Photo caption: Douglas County Homeless Engagement Assistance and Resource Team (HEART) began working in October of 2022 to help people experiencing homelessness in Douglas County find the resources they need.
Announced today, state funding will further Douglas County’s work help those in our community experiencing homelessness.
The Douglas County Homeless Initiative announced today it is the recipient of $1.6 million in state grant funding. The grant will support the ongoing work of Douglas County’s Homeless Engagement Assistance and Response Team (HEART), a co-response team that includes deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and resource navigators to connect those experiencing homelessness with resources.
“We know co-response is working,” said Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon, who chairs the Douglas County Homeless Initiative Executive Committee. “This grant would not have been possible without the hard work and resulting success of our HEART navigators. The reduction we’re seeing in homelessness is truly significant.”
Preliminary Point in Time data from January 2023 indicate the number of people living unsheltered in Douglas County is down 46%.
HEART Navigators are subject matter experts, often with experience in behavioral and mental health or case management. They proactively and directly interact with those experiencing homelessness in a compassionate way. They gather information on needs, assess vulnerability, provide complete case management, and make referrals to appropriate community services.
Partnered with law enforcement when safety is a concern, this community approach helps ensure people experiencing homelessness do not end up in emergency rooms or jail, but rather are directed to community services.
House Bill 22-1377 created the statewide grant program in 2022 to provide grant funding to local governments and nonprofits so they could respond to the needs of people experiencing homelessness in their community by providing services, recovery care or housing support.