Washington is still offering stipends to homeless-service workers

Human-services employees can apply through June 2 to receive $2,000.

Shelter coordinator Ibrahim Kamara

Shelter coordinator Ibrahim Kamara answers a resident’s question at DESC Mary Pilgrim Inn on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Last fall, Washington rolled out a $55 million program using federal pandemic relief grants to offer homeless-service workers two rounds of stipends up to $2,000 each. 

The money was a recognition of the workforce crisis the homeless-services sector is facing. A combination of low wages, challenging work and burnout have led to high turnover and lasting vacancies.

As of April 7, more than 10,000 workers across the state have received stipends. There is still funding available for homeless-service workers to apply for a first- or second-round stipend. Applications can be accessed at homelessworkerstipend.com and must be completed before June 2, 2023. 

To qualify, a worker must earn less than 80% of their area median income and currently be working for an organization that contracts with a Washington county or city or with the state to provide homeless services. To qualify for a second stipend, a worker must have been approved for their first stipend on or before Dec. 22, 2022.

The workforce crisis extends far beyond homeless services to nearly every part of the social safety net. Food banks, youth services, elder-care providers, behavioral health specialists, affordable-housing providers and more have reported a similar struggle with turnover and vacancy.

A recent study by University of Washington researchers found that nonprofit human-services workers are paid 37% less for comparable, or even higher-skilled, work than those in the for-profit sector. 

King County’s Crisis Cares Center Levy, which will be decided in the April 25 special election, would use some of the tax revenue to increase behavioral health worker wages and create workforce development programs.

Get more Crosscut in your inbox

Sign up for our Daily newsletter for the most important headlines of the day or sign up for our Weekly newsletter for the best stories of the week. Or, select both for more Crosscut.

By subscribing, you agree to receive occasional membership emails from Crosscut/Cascade Public Media. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the ‘update your preferences’ link at the bottom of every email.

Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors