Summitted by Thurston County
Thurston County, along with the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm finalized an agreement enabling local leaders to work together on providing solutions to the regional housing crisis.
The Regional Housing Council (RHC) replaces and expands on the work of the former Health and Human Services Council.
The RHC will leverage resources and partnerships through policies and projects promoting equitable access to safe and affordable housing. It will consider issues specifically related to funding a regional response to homelessness and affordable housing, and how to better coordinate existing funding programs. Work through the RHC will include assisting in monitoring and implementing the county’s five-year Homeless Crisis Response Plan (HCRP), by setting priorities and making funding decisions.
The RHC may also provide a forum for consideration of policy options related to homelessness and to encourage development of regional approaches to planning for, responding to, and funding homeless services and facilities and expand affordable housing.
“The commitment to working on housing regionally is inspiring,” said Olympia City Councilmember and Chair of the RHC, Jim Cooper. “This is the way, and I’m so glad we are doing it together. I look forward to a day when our approach to caring for our less fortunate neighbors is unified across the region. This means meeting them where they are and providing individualized services and supports.”
The RHC consists of one voting member and one alternate member from each of the jurisdictions comprising of more than 5% of the county population (Thurston County, Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater) and one jurisdiction representing South County (Yelm). A decision-making staff member from each jurisdiction will also participate but will not have voting capacity. Thurston County is providing a program manager, chair of a technical team, chair of a communications team, and staff to oversee administration activities.
Thurston County Commissioner and RHC Vice Chair, Carolina Mejia said, “Thurston County is committed to working together with the other jurisdictions to create short and long-term action plans to address this complex matter. The signing of this agreement brings me so much hope as to what we can achieve as the Regional Housing Council and how we can provide support to some of our most vulnerable community members.”
The RHC’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Making recommendations to regional elected and appointed leaders on funding decisions related to implementing the HCRP and expanding shelter and affordable housing.
- Establishing an annual RHC work plan along with an annual budget.
- Submitting an annual report to the governing body of each jurisdiction.
The RHC may also:
- Monitor the HCRP and support actions necessary to implement the plan.
- Identify and support projects, programs, and policies to increase shelter and affordable housing through the region.
- Identify and support projects, programs, and policies to further the objectives of the HCRP and reduce the number of unsheltered individuals living in the region.
- Identify and support construction and operation of supportive housing in the region.
- Serve as a regional forum for developing and implementing policies, programs, and projects related to homelessness and affordable housing.
- Develop communication protocols to assist local elected officials and the community in understanding the extent and nature of the homeless and housing crisis in the region.
Learn more about the RHC and read the full interlocal agreement at the Thurston County website.