In 2020, the City of Edmonds Human Services Program was created, under Patrick Doherty, Director of Community Services. A program manager and program coordinator were hired. Mayor Nelson has included in his 2021 budget an additional $500,000 for this program.
There is no indication how the funds are to be spent, so in public comments to Council on November 17 and November 23, I asked how the half-million would be used. None of my questions have been answered.
Two of these questions are
- How will the Human Services Department identify Edmonds residents who are most at risk? What is your outreach plan?
- Given the pandemic, and limited in-person contact, how will identified residents be served?
In my 45 years, in three states, practicing as a social worker, I have learned the following: social services are usually underfunded; ambitious outreach programs often fail because of lack of teamwork within each agency; it is difficult to identify those at risk.
The Human Services Program will not be able to meet the need for social services in Edmonds. The likely scenario is the program will continue to refer to Snohomish County agencies that are better equipped to address needs.
If the City of Edmonds has an extra $500,000, why not use it for those at risk of going hungry? As the pandemic continues, Council could allocate funds towards non-profit agencies that focus on hunger, such as the Edmonds Food Bank, EastWest Food Rescue, and the Nourishing Network.
Throwing money at problems never works, especially when a poorly planned program is doing the throwing. Those in need should be served, but by County agencies that are better equipped, and will do a better job.
I implore Council, don’t waste $500,000 of taxpayer money by expanding the Human Services Program. Instead, feed the hungry.
Former Edmonds City Councilmember