WALLA WALLA — Grants to help house Walla Walla County’s homeless were approved Monday, but at least one group drew the short straw.
County commissioners approved recommendations for funding requests from agencies involved with aiding the homeless. However available funds far outstripped applications, so some had to be turned away or given less than requested.
One of those which had its funding cut was the Successful Transition and Reentry Project, which helps recently released felons transition back into society. Despite pleas by supporters, the agency received $28,200, a major cut in funding for its operations.
County commissioners said they supported the group’s work, but would not disregard the recommendations made by a six-member scoring committee that reviewed the requests. Those recommendations were, in turn, reviewed by the Human Services Advisory Board, which forwarded its choices to the commissioners.
Harvey Crowder, acting director of the county Human Services Department, said $291,644 was available for grants in 2013, but the 13 requests for funds totaled $607,000. The grant monies come from a mix of sources, such as the state Department of Commerce as well as a fee mandated by the Legislature on each document recorded at the county Auditor’s Office.
At Monday’s commission meeting, Chuck Hindman, board president of the Walla Walla STAR Project, said the 2013 grant will be a 59 percent reduction from the project’s 2012 funding. “I don’t know how we’re going to survive,” he said.
But Greg Tompkins, commission chairman, said commissioners have to allocate limited funds as best they can. However, he said “if there’s any extra dollars to spare” this year, they would try to help support the project.
Along with the STAR Project, other agencies receiving grants were the Blue Mountain Action Council, the Human Services Department’s supportive and traditional housing operations and maintenance programs, Helpline and the YWCA.