The Community Action Center in Pullman is asking the public to help replenish its Community Relief Fund that provides temporary housing and transportation for the homeless.

The fund was established in 2013 by the Poverty Awareness Taskforce and has been administered by the CAC since then.

It has helped more than 150 people in that time, according to statistics provided by CAC, including as many as 50 people in 2015.

CAC Executive Director Jeff Guyett said the fund allows the nonprofit to help homeless individuals who may not be eligible for the CAC’s other social services programs. The money is used to put people in a motel for as long as two nights, or pay as much as $150 for transportation.

“Basically, it’s a last resort type of fund,” Guyett said.

When officers with the Pullman Police Department come across someone who is homeless, they can use vouchers paid for by the Community Relief Fund to place them in a motel, Guyett said.

The money in the fund has dropped in recent years. Yearly donations fell below $2,000 in 2018, 2020 and so far in 2021. The number of families helped by the fund have decreased in the past couple years as well, with only 10 people served in 2019 and six in 2020. Six people have used the fund so far this year.

According to Guyett, this means CAC staff have to be more selective about which situations are best suited to use of the funds in the case management process. Basically, the CAC tries not to use the fund unless it has to.

Guyett said he believes a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of awareness about the fund have led to the decrease in donations.

The CAC has set a goal of raising $10,000 for 2022 so it can serve at least 60 people struggling with homelessness.The Community Congregational Church of Christ in Pullman recently donated $1,000 to the fund.

The fund was created to address unmet needs related to homelessness in Pullman. Guyett said it allows the CAC to help people it otherwise could not.

“It’s pretty unique and pretty important in our community,” Guyett said.

People can donate to the fund at www.cacwhitman.org/donate/.

Kuipers can be reached at akuipers@dnews.com.

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