Our community is committed to expanding housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness. Rapid access to permanent housing is the foundation to which recovery and stability can begin. In two recently released reports by Focus Strategies and Barbara Poppe and associates, diversion and rapid re-housing are identified as primary solutions to ending the crisis of homelessness our community currently faces. As the reports have emphasized, expanding rapid re-housing for all people experiencing homelessness requires resources in the form of rental assistance, supportive services and housing location. Particularly in the housing climate our region faces today, the search for affordable and creative housing solutions is particularly challenging. In addition to our region’s efforts to expand access to and build more affordable housing, we need strategies that will identify and expand affordable solutions for people experiencing homelessness now. We can’t wait to build new properties. We need action now!
In that vein, we are excited to announce two resources specifically to build local capacity in housing location and landlord engagement strategies, supporting our rapid re-housing efforts and expanding housing solutions for all people experiencing homelessness:
King County Landlord Liaison Project
King County Department of Community and Human Services has announced an RFP with approximately $465,000 of joint funds from King County, the City of Seattle and United Way of King County for landlord engagement strategies. The RFP builds on lessons learned by the YWCA Landlord Liaison Project and promising landlord engagement strategies from other communities. Details of this RFP can be found on King County’s procurement website.
Building Changes Washington Youth and Families Fund System Innovation Grant
Building Changes is committing an additional $400,000 to landlord liaison and housing locator activities in coordination with All Home, King County, the City of Seattle, and United Way of King County.
These resources come at a critical time. Local providers are expending tremendous effort to assist people experiencing homelessness find and keep housing options that are safe and affordable. And the numbers show this. In 2015, 1008 households were housed through RRH. We are making it work despite the housing crisis our community faces. That said, in order to expand housing solutions to even more people and to do so quickly in order to assist the people sleeping outside today, we need to expand our community’s efforts to build partnerships with landlords and other housing partners. These resources do that.
For questions, please reach out to Triina Van.
The King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is seeking proposals for a single entity to engage, recruit and establish partnerships with landlords and property management companies countywide to improve access to rental housing. Approximately $465,000 annually is available for staffing and other project costs to support this effort funded jointly by King County, United Way King County and the City of Seattle. The selected entity will employ expert staff to engage landlords large and small, negotiate reduced screening criteria, provide as needed education and assistance to landlords, and maintain a database of property partners. The initial two-year contract will begin January 1, 2017, with contract continuation contingent upon fund availability and performance. To review or download a copy of this RFP, visit: https://procurement.kingcounty.gov/procurement_ovr/default.aspx.
The homeless state of emergency in Seattle and King County demands urgent and bold action. Last week, the City of Seattle, King County, United Way of King County, and All Home released consultant reports which recommended changes to our homeless crisis response system. We are committed to significant data driven changes to our current approach. We will house people experiencing homelessness quickly, and help them stabilize and stay in housing.
While the reports suggest that unsheltered homelessness could be addressed with no additional funding if all recommended changes are made, they also make clear that new and expanded investments in best practices are necessary, including shelter diversion, rapid rehousing, affordable housing, and permanent supportive housing.
The magnitude of the crisis of 10,000 people in our community experiencing homelessness daily means changes will take time and resources. Our region is facing a housing affordability crisis, where rents in Seattle have risen 49% and 48% in King County over the last 5 years. Our ability to reduce homelessness, therefore, is heavily reliant on sustaining and growing state and federal investments in homeless assistance as well as affordable housing and supportive services, including:
- Homeless crisis response services to get people off the street and rapidly into housing.
- Permanent supportive housing to stabilize people with disabilities experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Affordable housing to help formerly homeless families and individuals achieve stability.
- Behavioral health services to provide adequate care for those in crisis and long-term stability for people with chronic disabilities.
We will soon communicate our priorities for the 2017 state legislative session. Our agendas are likely to include effective approaches already supported by the State:
- Significant investment in the Housing Trust Fund.
- Renewal and expansion of Document Recording Fees.
- Implementation of the Medicaid Supportive Housing benefit.
- Local affordable housing options.
- Robust investment in the behavioral health system.
Seattle and King County now have the most thorough and comprehensive understanding of our homeless crisis response system. We are committed to supporting those experiencing homelessness, and believe our new approach is an example of good local government that responds to requests made by the legislature and other public and philanthropic funders to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time.
For more information on the systems transformation, click here.
All Home, United Way, King County, and the City of Seattle, commissioned an in-depth review of our local, state, and federal homelessness investments, and a comparison with national best practices to help us plan and prioritize changes to bring about the greatest possible reduction to homelessness. The System Wide Analytics and Projections (SWAP) suite of tools was used to conduct this review and the report and recommendations were provided by outside consultant, Focus Strategies. The All Home Strategic Plan called for this analysis, and committed to making changes that will result in making homelessness rare, and if it occurs, brief and only one-time.
The results of the SWAP analysis were shared in a community meeting on September 8th. The PowerPoint presentation from the community meeting is available here. The full SWAP report can be found here.
More information on SWAP and our systems transformation is available here.
The All Home Funder Alignment Committee endorsed a set of standardized screening criteria for program eligibility for projects dedicated to serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The new standards align with the guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and best practices for creating a low barrier system rooted in housing first principles. With the adoption of these new standards, programs receiving homeless system funding (defined as dedicated homeless funding from sources such as the King County Housing and Community Development Program, City of Seattle Human Services Department and similar funders) will no longer be able to set screening criteria above and beyond funder requirements. Our Seattle/King County Continuum of Care will continue to works towards a system-wide housing first approach, including low-barrier policies in all housing interventions dedicated to serving homeless households regardless of the funding source.
For more information, click here.