The Homeless Network of Yakima County began in December 2003 when representatives from United Way of Yakima County and the City of Yakima Neighborhood Development Office met to discuss their concerns about the lack of leadership and direction of the local Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Committee.
The discussion expanded on January 7, 2004, to include members of the Continuum and local agencies involved in serving the homeless. The meeting was designed to review the structure of the Continuum and determine whether there was a desire to expand its purpose and leadership role in Yakima County's homeless prevention efforts.
The assembled group also discussed the development of a 10-year plan to end homelessness Yakima County. Developing a plan would be one of the first tasks of an expanded Continuum of Care. Those in attendance unanimously agreed to expand the purpose of the Continuum.
The newly expanded Continuum began meeting biweekly to develop an organizational plan. At a meeting on February 25, 2004, the Continuum adopted newly created membership guidelines, elected new co-chairs, created several committees, and officially changed its name to the Homeless Network of Yakima County.
The group identified four major goals for the Network:
1. Increased collaboration
2. Increased public education on issues of homelessness
3. Increased community involvement in long-term planning to meet the needs of people who are homeless
4. Increased energy for legislative advocacy
One month after the Network's creation, the new Continuum of Care organizational plan was presented at a public meeting that was attended by over 20 different organizations. Those in attendance approved the plan and signed membership agreements to become the first members of the Homeless Network of Yakima County.
By the end of December 2004, the Network had expanded its membership to over 40organizations and had created the County's first 10-year plan to end homelessness. Once the plan had been completed, the Network and the National Interagency on Homelessness shared it with the Board of Yakima County Commissioners at a public meeting. The Board adopted the plan and appointed the Network to provide oversight for its implementation.
In 2007, the Network worked collaboratively with partner initiatives to create 27 long term housing units, 31 transitional units, 87 housing vouchers, 10 low barrier units, 2 homeless youth transitional beds, 2 seasonal overnight shelters, and a one-stop resource center. The Network updated its 10-Year Plan, continued remodeling its homeless youth drop-in center, and raised awareness of the positive economic effects of ending homelessness.
In 2009, Network conducted the first annual Project Homeless Connect to run concurrent with the annual Point-in-Time Count.