- What is All Home?
All Home (formerly the Committee to End Homelessness) is a community-wide partnership to align public and private efforts to make homelessness in King County rare, brief and one-time. We develop and implement data-driven strategies to respond to the crisis of homelessness and to address its root causes. Homelessness is solvable, and by acting together as a community, all people can have a home.
Local governments, religious institutions, non-profits, philanthropic organizations, shelter and housing providers, the private sector and engaged citizens all have a role to play in tackling homelessness, and all are actively involved in the All Home coalition.
- Why did All Home change its name from the Committee to End Homelessness?
In the fall of 2015, our coalition began implementing a new four-year strategic plan with an ambitious but achievable goal: making the experience of homelessness in King County rare, brief and one-time. With a new plan and a new goal, we realized we needed a new name as well, one that captured the intent and scope of our efforts.
All Home is a name intended to evoke one perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned over ten years of work: that it takes a community-wide effort – all of us acting together and doing our part – to tackle the problem of homelessness. And further, our name exemplifies our absolute commitment to the proposition that homelessness is solvable, and that if we unify behind the proven strategies outlined in All Home’s four-year strategic plan, all people can have a home.
- How serious a problem is homelessness?
Nationally, more than one million persons are served in emergency, transitional and permanent housing programs each year and HUD estimates that the total number of persons experiencing homelessness in this country may be twice as high. Locally, while we’ve made much progress over the last 10 years of effort, homelessness in King County continues to be a crisis. In 2015, on any given night, 10,000 people are experiencing homelessness in King County. Half of them are newly homeless.
Contrary to popular belief, homelessness is a problem not just in Seattle, but all across King County. And homelessness affects people off all ages and backgrounds, not just men with substance use issues. Families, veterans, young people – all sorts of people experience homelessness. As just one example: one in 34 students in the state experience homelessness during the school year. Rising rents, growing economic inequality and long-term unemployment intensify the problem. Homeless is a national and regional crisis and requires national and regional, forward thinking solutions.
On average people in King County who currently experience homelessness are homeless for over 100 days. Racial disparities are stark, with Native Americans seven times more likely to experience homelessness than Whites. African Americans are five times more likely to experience homelessness.
- Why should I care?
Most of us know someone who has struggled with paying rent, or maybe someone who has been homeless for a period of time. A recent national study showed that every $100 a month increase in average rents increases the homeless population by 15 percent. Homelessness isn’t someone else’s problem – it is our community’s problem. We each have a role to play in meeting this challenge.
The experience of homelessness is traumatic. It damages lives and intensifies other issues – like mental illness or substance abuse – that some people experience. At our core we are a compassionate, active community and we believe in helping those in need. Providing housing for those temporarily or chronically experiencing homelessness is the compassionate thing to do. It’s also cost-effective: providing housing costs less than paying all of the public costs associated with someone living on the streets. It’s been proven here in Seattle, and across the nation. We save money and have a stronger community when all people have a place to call home.
- Homelessness seems like such a big, difficult problem. Is it even solvable?
Yes, with a broad commitment and the right strategies, we can make homelessness rare in King County. All Home and our coalition partners have learned a lot over the last decade about how to solve this problem. We are committed to working together to implement the strategies that we know will work, but we also know we can’t do it alone. Only by coming together as a community can we truly make real progress in meeting this challenge; it takes the engagement and collective action of every single person in the community doing whatever they can – no matter how large or small – to address this crisis.
- What happened with the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness?
In 2005, our community formed All Home (originally known as the Committee to End Homelessness), and adopted a 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. The plan set an aspirational goal for the community, to effectively end homelessness in the county by 2015. Then, as now, our community would not and will not accept that people are living outside unsheltered in a place of such beauty and prosperity.
The efforts of All Home and its partners resulted in nearly 40,000 people exiting homelessness for stable housing. Over the last decade, 6,300 units of homeless housing were added, bringing Seattle/King County up to third-best in the country for amount of housing units dedicated for the homeless.
Those are significant achievements, yet homelessness continues to be a crisis in King County. Rising housing costs, persistent, long-term unemployment and growing income inequality meant that last year alone 5,000 new people in King County fell into homelessness. What we’re experiencing is part of a growing national problem: people are becoming homeless in King County at a rate consistent with urban areas in other high cost areas, such as Los Angeles, Honolulu, Portland, and San Francisco..
It’s clear that we’ve still got a long way to go. Drawing from lessons and best practices learned over the previous ten years, All Home is embarking upon the next four years of work with a new strategic plan that lays out guiding principles, achievable and realistic goals, measurable progress markers and innovative strategies to recommit our community to solving the challenge of homelessness.
- What is different about All Home’s new four-year strategic plan?
We’ve set a new, ambitious, yet achievable goal of making homelessness rare, brief and one time in King County. And we are deploying a set of proven approaches to make that goal a reality, approaches that are based on best practices, lessons learned over the previous decade of effort and on successful strategies developed here and elsewhere.
Over the last ten years we found that by increasing and targeting our investments to focus on diversion, rapid re-housing, and permanent supportive housing, we can house more people—often with equal or better longer-term outcomes than our current system. In our new efforts we are also focusing much more on prevention and on providing an individualized approach to services rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, so that each homeless person gets help that fits their personal circumstances.
Given the huge racial disparities in our homeless population, we’re also emphasizing equity and social justice in funding decisions and program designs, while adopting cutting edge technologies to produce and analyze data so that we can better determine what is working and what isn’t across King County. We can then use that information to adjust our efforts when necessary so that we achieve our goals.
This new plan was created by the community, for the community, and we know that the success of this plan is dependent on the development of an engaged community and a belief that we are better off working together.
- What do you mean by prevention and an individualized approach to solving homelessness?
It sounds simple but is actually a new and rather radical idea: if we ask people what it would take to end their homelessness and then find ways to provide that, we can ensure greater success in our efforts. This sort of individually tailored approach recognizes that every person and every situation is unique and the most effective way to help is based on what works for that individual or family.
We also know that the smartest, most cost effective approach is to stop homelessness before it starts. Assisting those most at-risk for entering homelessness before the crisis occurs makes a huge difference in keeping people from spiraling into the kind of situation that leads to homelessness. Over the next four years we will focus on using resources more efficiently and will target investments into those communities where the need and opportunity are the greatest.
Homelessness is solvable. Working together in a thoughtful coordinated way, we can do it.
- What can I do to solve the problem of homelessness?
You can make a difference in helping to solve the problem of homelessness in King County. We know that in order to solve homelessness it will take all of us coming together in caring and compassionate action.
All Home is committed to activating our community around the issue of homelessness. There’s an opportunity – and a need – for every person in King County to step up in big and small ways to help make a difference. Whether it is volunteering your time, donating goods or money, participating in community conversations and forums, or by simply making a personal commitment to say hello and offer a smile to someone in need, All Home is here to help you connect in a way that is both meaningful and right for you.
Please visit the Get Involved page to sign up and receive more information about what you can do today. Working together, we can make homelessness in King County rare, brief, and one-time.