CCO joins homeless task force to improve housing

01/02/2020

By Sue Cody

December 20, 2019

Homelessness task force

Homelessness in Clatsop County is almost six times higher than the average for Oregon. The county has 17 homeless per 1,000 residents, while the state average is 3 per 1,000.

In 2017 Astoria created the Homelessness Solutions Task Force (HOST) to determine a vision for homelessness and educate the public and city council.

Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization is now joining HOST because housing is one of the priorities of its Regional Health Improvement Plan, says Columbia Pacific’s Outreach Coordinator Brooke Stanley. She joins other representatives from city and county government, Columbia Memorial Hospital, housing programs, Clatsop Community Action, Clatsop Behavioral Healthcare, other health services, businesses, food banks, police and the school district on the task force.

“Columbia Pacific is developing strategies on how to improve housing for our members, with the understanding that unstable housing is a huge health risk,” says Stanley. The organization coordinates health care for people on Medicaid in Clatsop, Tillamook and Columbia counties.

Work of the task force

The task force has been working for two years to coordinate efforts to solve problems of homelessness. And it has been looking into solutions that are working in other places.

A subcommittee has been working on a proposal for a countywide homeless liaison to work with different agencies and coordinate care for the homeless.

Jarrod Karnofski, Vice President, Ancillary & Support at Columbia Memorial Hospital gave a PowerPoint presentation on the homeless liaison position, as crafted by the subcommittee.

Originally the liaison position was for one person working with the homeless on the ground serving the whole county. There are other programs, such as CBH’s Recovery Allies (RaRa’s), who reach out to people on the streets. The task force does not want to duplicate services but integrate and coordinate them.

At the December meeting, the discussion revealed the need and support for more than one person. The initial liaison position will coordinate efforts between different agencies and look for grant funding.

Part of the mission for the liaison is to collect data, track unmet needs, attract individuals to become more strategic and attract more funding and staff.

Discussion will continue on how the position will be funded and where it will be housed.

Members also mentioned CBH has added two social workers and has a mobile crisis unit.

Columbia Pacific is eager to partner with other task force members and the community to improve housing in the area it serves, Stanley says.

HOST meets semi-monthly at Clatsop Community College. For information, contact Astoria Chief of Police Geoff Spalding at gspalding@astoria.or.us. The meetings are open to the public.