City considers $20,000 human services campus agreement

May 19, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

City officials will consider spending up to $20,000 next month to partner with a Redmond social services center in order to establish a human services campus in Issaquah.Members of the Council Services & Operations Committee are scheduled to discuss the proposed agreement June 18.

The proposed agreement between the city and the nonprofit Family Resource Center would enable the Redmond center to contract with consultants to further the Issaquah effort.

Pam Mauk, executive director of the Family Resource Center, addressed council members April 16 at the most recent Services & Operations Committee meeting. She said the agreement would enable her organization to help Issaquah locate a suitable site for a campus, engage in business planning and provide legal assistance.

Mauk said her organization aimed to help Issaquah establish a human services campus.

Councilwoman Eileen Barber, a Services & Operations Committee member, said a need for the campus exists, but she suggested strengthening the agreement to include more oversight by city officials. She voted against advancing the agreement.

The other members of the committee, Councilman John Rittenhouse and Councilman Joshua Schaer, voted in favor of the agreement.

Officials said the first step toward establishing an Issaquah human services campus was to determine the level of need. Now, officials are working to outline how a facility would operate.

A group of nonprofit, business and government leaders was formed in 2006 to research the creation of a human services campus. Officials envision the campus as a central point from which to aid people in need of food, healthcare and employment.

Money from the developer of the Talus community would be used to pay the $20,000 fee, per an agreement between the developer and the city.

Organizers created the Family Resource Center in Redmond 18 years ago. The facility includes offices for a broad range of resources, including affordable housing assistance, and medical and dental services.

Elizabeth Maupin, coordinator of the Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition, encouraged council members to approve the agreement.

“A human services campus would bring together services for the vulnerable under one roof,” she said during the public comment portion of the May 4 City Council meeting. “It would eliminate a lot of wandering around and trying to find help. In a time when the resources are getting more and more scarce, this would be a tremendous benefit to the people who are looking for the services.”

The full City Council was set to consider the agreement May 4, but the measure was pulled from the agenda and sent back to the Services & Operations Committee for further discussion. Barber, Rittenhouse and Schaer will discuss the proposal again next month.

Maupin said a human services campus in Issaquah could foster cooperation between agencies operating in the city.

“It has several other benefits that I see,” she added. “One is by being in the same area, agencies can share resources, share information more efficiently. What I’ve seen is that since the economic downturn, a lot of agencies are not fighting with each other over the small pool of funds that remain, but actually beginning to try to work much more collaboratively. A human services campus would help that.”

Maupin said a centralized location would help aid workers direct people to assistance. A campus setting could also make it easier for people to find the appropriate resources. And she said the campus could also help make the aid process fairer.

“Occasionally, there are some people who try to manipulate the system to get more than their share,” Maupin said. “You could flag that.”

She urged officials to allocate the money necessary to open the center.

“I really hope that you will take the funds designated for that and use them soon to create the human services campus,” she said.

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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