At the Tuesday Feb. 19 work session the City Council heard a report on Welcome Home new program for homeless people which started in January.

The program puts together two organizations that work on different aspects of homelessness into one comprehensive program designed to provide those experiencing homelessness with homes, good paying jobs and other needs.

It is collaborative effort between the Salvation Army which concentrates on housing and the city’s Workforce Development department which concentrates on jobs.  The first step was to identify ten homeless people who would be likely the benefit from the comprehensive program.

The goal is to provide housing within 90 days and at the same time provide services that may include mental health and substance abuse programs, job training, career counseling, subsidized jobs and other needs such as child care, medical care, and transportation.

After 60 to 90 days of job training and subsidized employment the goal is to place participants in “high wage/in-demand occupations that strengthen their independence and self-sufficiency.”

According to the presentation the pilot program selected ten homeless people and will provide them with housing and jobs and take care of other needs for up to two years.  The program may be a great success, but in the first month the drop out rate was 20 percent which seems high for a program where at no cost to themselves people who are homeless have their needs taken care of and are provided an opportunity to work at a job in their chosen field.

The City Council spent some time patting itself on the back and congratulating each other on the program, but not a single councilmember asked how much the program was going to cost. The answer is $260,000 for the pilot project for ten people.

Considering all the services provided it seems like $26,000 a person is a reasonable amount.  If the pilot program is successful then the plan is to expand it.  So at $26,000 a person handling 20 people would cost over $500,000 and to handle 40 people would be around $1 million.

There was some concern expressed about the two dropouts, but since the program is just getting underway, it reportedly won’t be a problem to replace them.