Chelan County is changing the way it provides access to services for homeless people. 

The county has contracted the service to other agencies in the past but will now bring the process in-house. 

Chelan County Housing Program Coordinator Amber Hallberg says the change will make it easier for homeless clients to identify where they need to go to access services. 

"It's, kind of, gone from agency to agency and hasn't been able to stay in one place," said Hallberg. "In order for us to make sure that we're serving clients to the best of our ability for Chelan and Douglas counties, we need to have consistency for those clients." 

The change will also bring Chelan County in line with most other counties across the state that have in-house operations to connect homeless people with services. 

Economic Services Director Ron Cridlebaugh says the county is more qualified to provide access than other organizations. 

"This is one time when I will tell you in reviewing the program, I think the government can do it better than having it contracted out," Cridlebaugh said. 

The County does not provide any direct housing services but instead refers homeless people to various service providers. Hallberg said bringing the process in-house ensures its done in an objective manner. 

Currently, Wenatchee Rescue Mission has the contract, but it was always meant to be temporary. 

County commissioners approved the in-house plan Monday after it was endorsed by the Chelan-Douglas Homeless Housing Task Force in late February. 

The program involves Coordinated Entry (CE), which is the access point for services for people experiencing homelessness. 

The County will hire three full-time staff members to be under the direct supervision of the Housing Program Coordinator - Hallberg.  

They will include a CE Lead Specialist, CE Specialist, and CE Outreach Specialist. 

The CE Lead position will work full-time and serve as the point of contact for the Housing Program Coordinator.  The position will manage day-to-day operations at the Coordinated Entry location and work on the backend to make sure referrals are properly made. 

The CE Specialist will work full-time at the Coordinated Entry location with their primary role to be administering assessments, answering phone calls, and contacting clients.  

The CE Outreach Specialist will work full-time but have established office hours at agencies such as Wenatchee Rescue Mission, St. Francis House, and Lighthouse Christian Ministries to start, and add additional agencies as the system progresses.  

It's estimated the start-up cost for the program will be $24,153 from May 1st through June 30th. 

County staff will then come back to county commissioners by May with a proposed budget for the next year beginning July 1.  

Staff plans to use a new funding stream from the State called the Emergency Housing Fund which provides enough money to finance the program. 

County staff is recommending the hiring process get started as soon as possible. 

Coordinated Entry (CE) for homeless people is a State and Federal requirement for certain permanent housing programs.

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Gallery Credit: Billy Jenkins

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