Since 2007, Compass Health has provided short-term assistance to individuals and families experiencing homelessness through its Emergency Motel Voucher Program (EMVP). The goal of the EMVP is to break the cycle of homelessness by intervening in a time of crisis with motel-based housing that offers stability, safety, and the peace of mind required to make a positive change.
“So often, people who have been displaced from their home just need a stable steppingstone to help them get back on track,” said Leslie Hodson, Housing Program Manager at Compass Health. “The Emergency Motel Voucher Program allows people to heal, recover and rest, and begin to secure more permanent housing solutions. Sometimes, this program is the difference between building a home and continuing life on the street.
In 2020, Compass Health served 138 community members through the EMVP, but demand continues to rise and referrals to the program have increased 300 percent due to the pandemic and other challenges, often out of individuals’ control. Despite this increase in need, the program is only available as funding allows in Snohomish and Skagit County. Like many services such as these, there is far greater need than resources.
As a community behavioral health agency, Compass Health recognizes the link between housing and health: individuals struggling with unsafe or unstable housing experience worse outcomes and higher healthcare costs. Spending time in a motel is a valuable option that supports housing stability and eliminates housing-related stressors, which can lead to improved overall health.
Emergency motel vouchers provide immediate housing for those who would otherwise have to wait for shelter in their greatest time of need. Clients who receive vouchers are given up to 14 days of emergency housing; however, stays can be longer if there are extenuating circumstances, or they need additional days for their housing to become available.
The EMVP receives 20 to 25 weekly referrals for homeless individuals and families from dozens of community partners who aim to assist the growing homeless populations. It allows Compass Health to work collaboratively with clients and other nonprofit providers in the community who are facing the same challenges for their own clients.
“I’ve seen the positive impact that the Emergency Motel Voucher Program continues to have on our community,” said Hodson. “Right now, there are more people who need these services than there is available funding to provide services, which is why we need all the support we can get.”
Community support of this program is critical. You can support Compass Health’s Emergency Motel Voucher Program by donating today at www.compasshealth.org/donate.