Human Services Review Council on the ropes

January 6th, 2011 by Ken

In the early 1970’s, the federal government said that local governments had a better grasp on community issues, and could do a better job of spending the public’s money, and it created the Block Grant Program.

Cities were awarded money, based on a developed criteria, and were to spend it to satisfy community needs.

Initially, the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, along with Thurston County, spent the money as they saw fit.  One problem arose in regards to social service agencies.   Many of them began to lobby the cities for specific funds for their organization.  Often the cities would all fund the same agency and leave other agencies out in the cold.   Councilmembers felt there must be a better way and created the Human Services Review Council (HSRC).

Each city and the county would designated a specific portion of their block grant money to the new council.   Representative from the three cities and the county would review all agency requests and then divide up the money among the various agencies.   This relieved pressure on the cities and also on the agencies which had to make only one presentation.

When the block grant monies ran out in the late 1980’s, the three cities and the county agreed to continue funding the Human Services Review Council and set up a formula based on population and need.

This has continued to the current day.  This year 14 agencies were granted funds by the Human Services Review Council totaling $260,000.

But the City of Olympia has reduced its funding this year, and has put Tumwater, Lacey and Thurston County on notice that it will not fund the HSRC next year.   Instead Olympia plans to spend all of its allocated funds on homeless issues.

Some representatives from Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County think its commendable that Olympia wants to work on homeless, but question what that decision will do.  It may well spell the end of the HSRC and force social service agencies to once again beat the path to each city asking for funding.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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