To provide economic relief to homeless service workers in an industry that is experiencing issues with staffing shortages and worker retention, the Washington State Department of Commerce is administering a federal Homeless Service Workers Stipend Program.
The program is funded by $51 million in federal grants, and will assist homeless service workers with immediate economic needs such as:
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Utilities and household bills
- Medical expenses and student loan payments
- Transportation related costs
- Child-care related costs
- Behavioral health-related costs
- Other basic necessities
“Homeless service workers often face the same economic insecurities as the homeless populations they’re assisting,” said Kelsey Martin, Senior Manager of Client Services at FORWARD. “This stipend will provide immediate assistance for costs associated with rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, medical expenses, student loan payments, transportation, childcare, behavior health-related costs and other basic necessities.”
FORWARD is a COVID-19 business recovery platform that connects local businesses to related resources, including homelessness assistance programs, and rental and utility assistance programs. So far, FORWARD has partnered with the City of Kirkland; Kitsapp County; Multnomah County; Pacific County; Skagit County; the City of Spokane; Thurston County; the Washington State Department of Commerce; the Washington Department of Social & Health Services; and Yakima County, among others.
Applications for the first stipend of up to $2,000 opened on September 29. The second stipend payment of up to $2,000 is available for individuals who are approved for the initial stipend payment no later than December 9, and who are still working for the same eligible organization six months later.
Applications for the second stipend payment must be approved no later than June 9, 2023. Those eligible to receive the stipends must:
Be a homeless service worker
- Work for an eligible organization
- Work in Washington
- Have an immediate economic need
- Income must be at or below 80% of the county’s Area Median Income (AMI)
“Homeless service workers play a crucial role in assisting the homeless population. These service workers are also facing harsh economic stressors and are in need of immediate relief,” said Martin. “FORWARD is proud to support the state of Washington’s innovative approaches to improve workforce retention and administer this relief.”
Click here for more information on the Homeless Service Workers Stipend Program.
The reporter reached out to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and received no response.