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New competitive process leaves some homeless programs without proper funding

New competitive process has some homeless programs worried about money.

YAKIMA, Wash. - Some homeless programs around Yakima county are barely holding on after the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments (YVCOG) introduced a new competitive process for funding.

Everyone is looking for the best deal when it comes to spending money. YVCOG is no different and they applied that mindset when it came to distributing money for homeless programs.

Executive Director Larry Mattson said this is the first time YVCOG has put together a panel of local people and members of their homeless planning and policy council to score programs that applied for funding.

"Some of the long-time service agencies in the Valley, like Yakima Neighborhood health and Triumph treatment services did not score as well as well as the other agencies and their funding was reduced or not funded at all," Mattson said.

Yakima Neighborhood Health took one of the biggest hits after their funding was reduced from $1.4 million to a little more than half a million dollars.

Rhonda Hauff, their deputy CEO, put out a statement that says they had to evict 26 formerly homeless people because of the changes.

She also says they were being evicted because leadership at the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments developed a new funding process that took funds away from longstanding homeless service providers in Yakima County.

Hauff then quotes the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance that said there were other problems related to possible conflict of interest by specific members of the scoring committee.

Some of the programs that were cut are: a family shelter in downtown Yakima, transitional housing for families recovering from addiction and Wapato’s emergency shelter Noah’s ark.

After serving the lower valley for over 10 years, David Hacker with Noah’s Ark thought their chances for funding were good, but saw some flaws in the process to get it.

"We scored fairly reasonably compared to the other ones, but we also know there were some people that scored things zero and there was no way to get a zero on this if you followed the guidelines and requirements," Hacker said.

Camp Hope in Yakima is run by Transform Yakima Together and they received a little more than $400,000. Since they are one of the newer homeless shelters executive director Andy Ferguson says it crucial for them to get this funding.

"Were able to keep the camp open, which is the barracks style camps. We feed meals, we feed three meals a day and provide transportation for the residents to town and back so they can get to the services that they need," Ferguson said.

While some groups are upset with the new changes, Mattson assures them this new process is the best way for a long-term solution.

"The cog and the service providers have to work really well together to ensure that means are met and needs are identified and we are addressing needs all throughout the valley," Mattson said.

The competitive process will take place again during the spring of 2018 and all the programs will get their chance to get funding again.

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