Housing & Homelessness

Washington State Department of Commerce


Homeless Service Provider Stipends and Trauma & Workforce Studies

Project Details

Between 2021 and 2023, BDS Planning completed three efforts for the Washington State Department of Commerce, funded in part by the America Rescue Plan Act, supporting frontline Washington Homeless Service Providers experiencing issues of economic stability, primary and secondary trauma, and other workforce challenges like job retention.

The Stipend Limited Program included a partnership with FORWARD and August Creative to lead outreach and marketing for a short-term and limited financial payment program for homeless service providers with an immediate economic need in Washington state following acute COVID-19 economic impacts. Key outcomes of the effort included:

1. Awareness Building: Over 16,000 homeless service providers were reached through multiple targeted campaigns.

2. Application Drive: Our dedicated program website, accessible in more than 65 languages, generated 132,000 website hits and 486,000 total webpage views in less than nine months.

3. Equitable Outreach: We employed a multifaceted approach, with a particular focus on historically marginalized populations and those in remote areas of the state.

4. Community Engagement: We enlisted community messengers to amplify the program's importance, fostering on-the-ground awareness among homeless service providers.

5. Impactful Results: More than 24,000 applications were received and more than $39 million in funds was distributed, serving more than 13,000 individuals.

The Homeless Service Provider Trauma Study was supported by Jackie St. Louis of D-Fine Concepts and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA). The report was designed to support efforts to identify and develop effective interventions and responses to trauma experienced by workers while performing workplace duties. BDS Planning led primary research and facilitation of surveys, focus groups, and an Advisory Committee composed of 11 members representing agencies, nonprofit organizations, and municipalities across Washington state with varying levels of lived experience and professional experience and a mix of frontline workers and managers. The final report elevated worker voices and summarized these findings in a way that agency staff and lawmakers could then use as a baseline from which to generate and implement solutions moving forward.

The Homeless Service Provider Workforce Study provided recommendations on how to improve the working conditions, safety, retention, and turnover, and ultimately improve outcomes for the client population of the workforce. The partnership included 501 Commons, ECONorthwest, D-Fine Concepts, Kinetic West, Pyramid Communications, WLIHA, David Rolf LLC, and Kaleb Germinaro. Additionally, BDS Planning reconvened the trauma study advisory committee as lived experience and subject matter experts contributing to the research assignment. The final report summarized extant literature and data, examined wages and benefits data, investigated worker satisfaction, retention, and turnover, and provided a set of nuanced policy recommendations in support of the creation of a more organized, standardized, and predictable sector supported by a better compensated, more consistently trained, and happier workforce.

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