Benton County Partners with Community in Prioritizing Housing Solutions, ROCKit Grant Program Maps the Way
Tuesday, November 8, 2022
Benton County, the City of Corvallis, Community Services Consortium, and key health and social service providers are partnering with the Community ROCKit (Resource Organizer for Communities Kit) program in the development of a coordinated entry system that connects community members to housing and services.
The collaboration comes during a critical time when COVID-19 and economic factors have only deepened an already existing housing crisis. The number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Benton County has increased dramatically (more than 95%) since 2015.
“Solutions to homelessness are a priority for our community, and Benton County is committed to addressing affordability and homelessness by engaging the whole community in assuring safe, healthy, and affordable housing for all community members,” said Benton County Commissioner, Nancy Wyse. “Tackling this project is an important step toward developing local solutions. Working with ROCKit gives us an opportunity to leverage our community’s resources and attributes.”
Benton County has one of the highest rates of income inequality in Oregon. Forty percent of all renters pay more than half of their income on rent; this number rises to 83% of extremely low-income individuals. For every 100 families in Benton County with extremely-low income, only 14 affordable rental units are available.
Benton County’s collaboration with ROCKit will build off the efforts of the Home, Opportunity, Planning, and Equity (HOPE) Board, a joint effort to facilitate a comprehensive, coordinated response to homelessness. The HOPE Board included coordinated entry in its recommendations to the City and County for addressing homelessness.
An effective coordinated entry process helps Benton County prioritize the most vulnerable people in our community ensuring that people who need assistance the most can receive it in a timely manner. Coordinated entry processes also provide information about service needs and gaps to help communities plan their assistance and identify needed resources.
“We don’t need data to see that homelessness is a problem in our community,” said Dina Eldridge, Housing Services Manager of Community Services Consortium. “We need data to help us solve it. That’s where ROCKit comes in, to help identify how we can implement coordinated entry in order to prioritize better connecting the most vulnerable individuals to housing opportunities,” Eldridge said.
The Community ROCKit model, which focuses on identifying existing assets and amplifying community engagement to solve local issues, will help the City and County in their next steps moving to a coordinated entry process for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
With assistance from ROCKit, the agencies will participate in a 90-day process to develop a roadmap for community resource and capacity inventorying, commitment to actionable items, asset mapping, ongoing process measurement, and hands-on help facilitating and implementing the process.
“ROCKit is all about catalyzing the people, capacities, and assets that communities already have and using them in new ways to address those local challenges,” said Christine Bechtel, co-creator of Community ROCKit. We’re honored to support Benton County in its goal to connect vulnerable individuals to housing opportunities by inspiring participation in an effective coordinated entry process.”
The grant-funded Community ROCKit program has previously partnered with Umatilla, Tillamook, Morrow, and Gilliam Counties to help these communities identify solutions to local challenges such as childcare affordability, access to mental health services, and emergency housing crisis.
Community ROCKit is available at no cost to selected communities. Additional free resources about Community ROCKit to help communities take the guesswork out of recovery planning are available at: www.communityrockit.org.
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