On Monday November 2, 2015, Seattle Mayor Murray and King County Executive Constantine issued declarations that homelessness is in a state of emergency in King County, and outlined local actions, including shelter, prevention and outreach. The State of Emergency also called on the state and federal government to build affordable housing, rebuild the safety net-particularly for behavioral health, and to expand homeless housing and services.
The State of emergency included new funding and realigned existing funding from Seattle and King County raising the total from $80 million to $90 million in funding for homelessness. Since November 2nd the following local actions have been taken:
- More Shelter and housing
- Seattle and King County added 100 shelter beds in downtown Seattle
- Seattle added motel vouchers for 15 families and 15 single adults
- Seattle adding 180 additional shelter beds
- King County has a Request for Proposals (RFP) for $325,000 in shelter outside of Seattle
- Expanded behavioral and physical health services
- King County and Seattle partnered to expand mobile medical van for use in Seattle to two days a week (will expand to full time in March/April when new van is ready)
- King County expanded mental health services at young adult housing programs
- King County expanded housing and mental health services with vouchers
- Enhanced outreach to encampments, vehicle residents
- Seattle is funding more service provider outreach to the unsheltered, and specific outreach to highly vulnerable people with mental health conditions
- Seattle adding 50 safe parking spots on city property, and providing safe parking zones until the 50 spots open
In addition to the items above, planning is underway for further local actions. Prevention services, funded by Seattle’s State of Emergency funds and King County’s Best Starts for Kids funds will be expanded. King County is also studying options for providing mental health, hygiene and case management services at faith based safe parking locations across the county.
With the start of the 2016 State legislative session, Seattle and King County have also requested significant funding increases from lawmakers to address youth homelessness. Additional asks during this short session include increases to the Housing Trust Fund, affordable housing tools, youth homelessness and passage of renter protection bills.
At the federal level, the alliance formed between the west coast mayors has produced a joint federal advocacy agenda. The issue of homelessness will be a main topic of the US Conference of Mayors this week in Washington, D.C.
The All Home Coordinating Board will discuss actions taken locally at our next meeting, Tuesday, February 2nd in Olympia. The Seattle City Council will discuss actions taken by Seattle at its meeting on February 10th.