County seeks grant to prevent disabled from becoming homeless - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

County seeks grant to prevent disabled from becoming homeless

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- Yakima County got permission this morning to apply for a new grant to help the homeless.

The Housing and Essential Needs Grant is a housing voucher program for people with some level of disability who don't qualify for government disability benefits. They would be able to pick up the vouchers from a local representative and use them to pay for housing.

The county has an average of 633 people who are eligible for these vouchers.  Homeless people can't use it as a permanent solution, but the goal is to help those who qualify get back on their feet.

"The intent would be to hopefully get these clients into a more stabilized situation, or give them more time so that they can get qualified for the benefits that they need... So that they could be more self sustaining," says Manager Tim Sullivan of the Department of Human Services.

This grant would give Yakima County $770,000 this year to help the homeless and those at risk for becoming homeless. There would be another $1.2 million next year.

Homelessness in Yakima County is already down 35 percent from last year. The county's efforts line up with the state's goals of reducing homelessness by 50 percent by 2015.