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
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
Associate Executive Director
Snohomish County (WA) Housing Authority