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Nearly 60 young people with experience of homelessness from across Washington state gathered recently in SeaTac over three days to help evaluate hundreds of applications for funding through the Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) at the Washington Department of Commerce. More than $40 million in grants were announced Friday to increase support and direct services to ensure that no young person spends a single night without a safe, stable place to call home.And Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties are getting more than one and a half million dollars of that.

The Chelan/Douglas Community Action Council will be getting almost 219-thousand dollars for a “rapid re-housing” project, Hope Source will receive more than 200-thousand dollars for supportive services, and around 183-thousand for rapid re-housing. 527-thousand dollars is going to the Chelan County Juvenile Center. In Okanogan County, the Foundation for Youth Resiliency and Engagement will get 270-thousand dollars for a young adult housing program, and 190 thoussand for street outreach services.

It's the second year the state has consulted young experts on the grants. Other priorities considered in determining the awards included geographic distribution and equity in services for youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth.

The lived experts were included in decision-making in a way not seen before in state government. Young people spent nearly six months engaged in the process, taking a lead role in identifying funding priorities, developing scoring criteria, and analyzing $120 million in funding requests through the lens of their own experience struggling with housing instability and accessing services and programs for support. Their evaluations, alongside other criteria, determined which applicants received funding.

The grants come from $37.7 million in state funds and $5 million in federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.

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