City of Olympia proposes using block grant money to expand Familiar Faces program

Steve Bloom/sbloom@theolympian.com
·2 min read

Olympia’s Familiar Faces program has been up and running in downtown Olympia for a year. Now, the program that provides workers to help those experiencing homelessness is ready to expand.

During Tuesday’s Olympia City Council meeting, opened a public comment period on a proposal to allocate unspent 2021 Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 funds to Familiar Faces. A total of $21,602 would create a four-month position to help those in need downtown.

Public comments are welcome until noon Friday, Aug. 19. More information can be found on the city’s website. The City Council is set to approve the allocation on Aug. 23.

Anastasia Everett, CDBG Program specialist, said the funds are a combination of previously unallocated funds and unspent money from the Evening Downtown Ambassadors program.

Everett said the Evening Downtown Ambassadors program was originally awarded $100,000 in CDBG COVID funds when it started a year ago. The pilot program ended in April before all funds were spent, leaving $14,917 up for grabs. That, combined with another $6,685 of unallocated funds make up the money for the program expansion.

The position would be funded for about four months and the person would focus on on-call needs downtown.

“The position would serve low-income individuals who are street dependent or are experiencing homelessness in downtown Olympia,” Everett said. “It’s designed to test the concept of expanding the Familiar Faces program to provide a dedicated resource for non-threatening but more time-consuming individuals in the downtown core.”

Everett said the city has received a total of $607,544 in CDBG COVID funds from the state Department of Commerce. Earlier this year, the City Council approved CDBG funds for 2022, including allocating $35,000 to the Downtown Ambassadors program, as well as $74,374 for CDBG program administration.