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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Council for Homeless gets $5M grant from Bezos Fund

Money to help families get into housing

By , Columbian staff reporter

Council for the Homeless received $5 million this week to end family homelessness in Clark County — the largest private grant in its history.

The Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, launched in 2018 and founded by American entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, awards grants to organizations and civic groups across the nation who are making strides toward ending family homelessness. Council for the Homeless was one of the two Washington entities that received a grant.

As of this month, there are 194 families in Clark County experiencing some form of homelessness.

“This is an opportunity to invest deeply in our community,” Sesany Fennie-Jones, executive director of Council for the Homeless, said in a press release Tuesday. “No family should be without a safe and regular place to call home. The Day 1 Families Fund is providing an essential tool that will help Council for the Homeless and partners make a significant difference in the lives of local families and in system coordination of service delivery.”

In the press release, Council for the Homeless stated the funding would be used to strengthen local solutions and reduce the number of families couch-surfing or living “doubled up.” Doubled up is a term used to describe children living in shared housing, such as with another family or friends, due to various crises.

It is not uncommon for parents to live outside while a child lives doubled up with another family member or friend.

“The work of the grant will help reunite these families,” Council for the Homeless said in the press release.

The funding will also support more collaborative efforts between the council and community partners. With the grant, the council aims to implement a family by-name list, which is a dataset that captures homelessness in real time with names. The council already has by-name lists for chronically homeless people and specific ones for veterans and youth.

The council also aims to strengthen collaboration with school districts and agencies that serve families of color.

“Our next step is to connect with partners and make plans to steward these funds for the greatest impact on family homelessness in Clark County,” Fennie-Jones said in the press release.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.