MONMOUTH/INDEPENDENCE — At a joint work session on April 23, Monmouth and Independence city councils heard about a proposal to form a continuum of care with neighboring communities in Marion and Yamhill counties.

The counties are part of a Rural Oregon Continuum of Care, but that group includes 28 other counties.

“It’s an enormous continuum,” said Jimmy Jones, director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency’s Arches program.

Creating a CoC that only includes Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties will allow them to apply for federal dollars and have more local control to deter-mine needs.

“The main idea is to improve outcomes for people in our region who are homeless,” said Janet Carlson. “This will be accomplished through improved service coordination and the ability to set local priorities and address local needs.”

Carlson, a former Marion County Commissioner, is consulting on the project. She and Jones gave a presentation at the April 23 work session.

One of the purposes of a CoC is to “promote communitywide commitment with the goal of ending homelessness,” according to a summary by the Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative.

The Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative is a collaboration between Salem, Keizer and Marion and Polk counties.

Marion and Polk counties are part of a CoC administered by the Mid-Valley Community Action Agency, which in 2011 became part of the Rural Oregon Continuum of Care.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs, requires communities to form a Continuum of Care in order to receive federal funds under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

“It is a nationwide competition, and unless you have nearly perfectly functioning systems, you stand no chance whatsoever to get adequate levels of resources into your community,” Jones said.

The Mid-Willamette Homeless Initiative summary states “the numbers of homeless individuals and families continue to rise, along with a growing public awareness and expectations that governments act. Yet there is no designated entity that is viewed as having the lead responsibility to address the problem.”

 A CoC with just Marion and Polk, or Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties could begin in 2020, if the jurisdictions affirm the recommendation.

“We are in the process of gathering resolutions from the included jurisdictions,” Carlson said in an email after the meeting. “So far, we have positive responses from Marion and Polk counties, Salem, Keizer, and Independence. Yamhill will let us know in a couple weeks.”

“We are in the process of gathering resolutions from the included jurisdictions,” Carlson said in an email after the meeting. “So far, we have positive responses from Marion and Polk counties, Salem, Keizer, and Independence. Yamhill will let us know in a couple weeks.”

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