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Technical Assistance Initiative - Welfare to Work Vouchers

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 -   Snohomish County and Everett County Housing Authorities
 -   Planning an Effective Implementation Strategy
 -   The Role of Partner Service Agencies
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Snohomish County and Everett County (WA) Housing Authorities: Building a Unique Partnership with Local Service Agencies

Snohomish County and Everett County have partnered together to design and implement a WtW voucher program. The authorities were awarded a total of 1,275 vouchers. This award represents almost a one-third increase in their total voucher program size. The region served by Snohomish and Everett is characterized by population growth (with a population of 500,000) and escalating rents.

Planning an Effective Implementation Strategy

Snohomish/Everett benefited from extensive planning that occurred well before its WtW voucher application was submitted to HUD. Its partner agencies were intimately involved from the earliest stages, and they greatly influenced the design of the program. Partner agencies include 10 non-profits, a state unemployment agency, the local TANF agency, and two community colleges.

Both PHAs have reorganized and hired new staff in order to manage the WtW program, including two housing coordinators, additional clerks, and a "troubleshooter" to coordinate efforts among the partner agencies and resolve any issues that arise during implementation.

The Role of Partner Service Agencies

Partner agencies play a substantial role in selection, intake, and case management. Families must apply through the partner agencies rather than through the housing authority. It is the responsibility of the partner agency to interview the family, determine whether the family meets the program's selection criteria, and assist the family in completing the housing application.

The partner agency also works with the family to develop an action plan and sign a contract of participation. The partner agency then forwards the application, contract, and action plan to the housing authority. Snohomish/Everett extensively trained its partners in Section 8 rules and requirements. Having well-trained partners lessened the workload of in-house staff and contributed significantly to the overall efficiency of the program.

The partner agencies feel strongly that the WtW program must serve families that are truly dedicated to achieving self-sufficiency. They stressed the need for clear guidelines for participation in the program and sanctions for families that failed to meet the program's requirements.

The partner agencies also believed that only through establishing family obligations would the program succeed in achieving its primary objectives of moving families from welfare to work. Because of this, Snohomish/Everett and its partners designed a contract of participation, using the family self-sufficiency (FSS) program model. The contract requires each family to work or take part in job training. It establishes a set number of hours that a family must work and increases over time. If there is no work activity, the family is terminated from the program.


Peter Grodt
Associate Executive Director
Snohomish County (WA) Housing Authority
(425) 290-8499
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