Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney on Tuesday signed a partnership agreement covering the deployment of Snohomish County Human Services social workers as they help address homelessness, behavioral health and public safety concerns with both the Snohomish County Outreach Team (SCOUT) and Office of Neighborhoods (OON) programs.
According to a county news release, the Office of Neighborhoods is a program within the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office that partners with Snohomish County’s Human Services social workers. The program was paused in June 2022 due to law enforcement staffing shortages and in response, human services developed a new program, called Snohomish County Outreach Team — with the goal of ensuring their social workers were able to continue to serve people in need.
The Office of Neighborhoods was relaunched in January 2023, and the partnership agreement between these agencies will allow for both of these programs — OON and SCOUT — to work simultaneously. .This will provide additional opportunities to help some of the most vulnerable people in the community and improve public safety, the county news release said.
“Public safety remains Snohomish County’s top priority, and as a compassionate community, we want to use all of the tools available to us to address homelessness, behavioral health needs and accompanying challenges to public safety,” Somers said. “With these innovative programs and this partnership agreement, we can more efficiently deploy resources and ensure we are reaching people in need across the county. I appreciate the collaboration with the sheriff’s office and our other law enforcement partners.”
Added Fortney: “We know that a well-trained social worker when partnering with a deputy can help a broader cross section of people and ensure they get any needed assistance. The Office of Neighborhoods has been a proven success at moving people from one of the worst possible situations, living on the streets, to something more sustainable, improving lives and reducing street crime in the process. I appreciate the fact that the Office of Neighborhoods is helping us save lives, improve safety, and reduce suffering.”
The 2022 Point-in-Time (PIT) count identified 1,184 people in 953 households residing in shelter or transitional housing or living without shelter in Snohomish County the night of Feb. 21, 2022, the highest number since 2012. The PIT count for 2023 will be released later this year.
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