Reducing street level homelessness by 25% within the first year. That's the goal of a new program soon to be launched in Yakima that will help remove people from the streets of Yakima and help them change their lives. On average Yakima has about 700 homeless on city streets and Mike Johnson sees many of them on a daily basis. Johnson is the Executive Director of the Yakima Union Gospel Mission. Johnson is excited about a public private partnership now under development between the mission and the city and county. He's calling the program "Operation Creating Hope." He says the city of Yakima has agreed to provide two police officers dedicated to homelessness. The officers work would be funded by the county and the Mission would provide manpower through the Mission outreach program. The partnership is being formed, according to Johnson, to address the chronically homeless population. In other words people who police and the mission have worked with for years to try and get them help. The new partnership will be able to offer jail or help to those who are the most resistant to help. The city diversion program will be an option for many who will be offered a chance to turn lives around or jail time if they keep violating city laws. Johnson says they're also speaking with officials at the Yakima Greenway about how to help eliminate the homeless problems on the
Greenway pathway.
It's a model that Johnson says he hopes will be successful and used by other cities and counties around the state and country. He says he's confident that by having the city, county and the mission work together Yakima can reduce street level homelessness by 25% in the first year.
Johnson will talk with The Morning News at 7:15 Thursday morning on KIT. Don't miss our conversation.

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