This evaluation report and accompanying research brief highlight results of the Pierce County 211 and Diversion Grant, a three-year Building Changes pilot project in Pierce County operating from January 1, 2018, to December 31, 2020. This project worked with South Sound 211 to integrate the use of Diversion into their existing phone-based service that people call to acquire health and human services information, service referrals, or other housing and behavioral health assistance.
The project served 323 households experiencing homelessness in Pierce County. The majority of households were Black or African American (43.7%) and white (25.4%), and 12.1% of households identified as Latinx or Hispanic. The evaluation of the project found that 43.2% of households exited the program to stable housing and the average time receiving services was 30.1 days. Just under two-thirds (69.5%) of households with successful exits received flex funds to assist their transition to housing stability. The flex fund utilization rate was lower than other county Diversion programs which staff proposed could be due to 211’s unique position in the community to identify and provide solutions that require little to no flexible funding.
Finally, the project also showed potential success providing Diversion over the phone, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Black or African American participants and domestic violence survivors (63.7%) were served at higher proportions than in other Diversion programs in the county. The 211 staff posited that telephone-based services may be more anonymous and accessible and potentially allowed some groups to feel safer accessing and utilizing them.