Simplified: The city is looking to hire a street outreach team to actively engage with unhoused people in the community and help connect them with services.

Why it matters

  • At one point last year there were more than 400 people who were considered homeless, per city analysis.
  • The idea for a street outreach team came from a recent homelessness task force spurred by Councilor Rich Merkouris to reduce the number of unhoused people in the city.
  • If it gets a green light from the City Council, the two-year pilot for the outreach team would be housed in the city health department. It'd be made up of professionals with specific experience in working with Native American culture – a disproportionate number of unhoused people in town are Native American, – and experience working with mental health and addiction challenges.
"It's about meeting people where they are," said Jenna Harris, policy advisor for Mayor Paul TenHaken.

What happens next?

Next week, the City Council will be asked to approve spending $250,000 on a two-year pilot program to test the effectiveness of a homeless outreach team.

  • If approved, the city will put out a request for proposals to find a contractor to provide these outreach services for the duration of the pilot program.