For the second consecutive year, 824 homeless or unstably housed young people ages 12 to 25 were identified during Count Us In—All Home’s annual youth-specific point-in-time (PIT) count. This number includes 131 young people who were unsheltered at the time of the count on January 27, compared to 133 last year. The fact that the total number of homeless or unstably housed young people did not increase during the past year, a time of great challenges related to homelessness in our community, is notable.
“The stability of these numbers is a testament to the work our community has done to identify and support homeless youth, but our work is not done,” said All Home Director Mark Putnam. “Homelessness in King County is in a state of emergency and every homeless young person we help today is one less at risk of becoming a homeless adult. In the coming year, All Home and its partners will increase our prevention efforts and work with upstream systems to make youth homelessness more rare, pilot new housing and services to make youth homelessness brief, and improve education and employment opportunities to ensure that homelessness is a one-time occurrence.”
Count Us In occurs alongside the community’s One Night Count, an annual PIT count of people experiencing homelessness. Count Us In allows for a deeper dive into the scope of youth and young adult homelessness to inform planning and services to meet the needs of this unique population. The effort is regarded as one of the largest youth-specific PIT counts in the country, with survey data collected at more than 70 sites throughout Seattle-King County and supplemented by data from the regional Homeless Management Information System.
Mary Steele, Executive Director of New Horizons Ministries, one of the Count Us In partner sites, said “New Horizons worked with All Home and the United Way of King County to host a Community Resource Exchange on the day of Count Us In, so that youth being counted could also receive basic services like haircuts, dental care, and referrals to other programs. We were able to serve almost 100 young people who stay in our shelter and attend our drop in programs regularly, as well as young people who aren’t already involved in our programs. The line for haircuts lasted all day and many participants took advantage of a fresh look to meet with prospective employers and job training programs.”
In addition to defining the scope of youth homelessness in King County, Count Us In results paint a clear picture of who these young people are and where they come from. Homeless or unstably housed youth and young adults were identified in nearly every zip code in the county. They are disproportionately Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer (27 percent) and youth of color (53 percent)—two populations prioritized in All Home’s work on youth homelessness.
Similarly, the data shows opportunities for prevention and early intervention. Nearly a quarter (22 percent) of youth surveyed have been in foster care, 38 percent are enrolled in school, and roughly half (49 percent) have encountered the criminal justice system. Each of these touch-points will play an increasingly important role as All Home looks to complement crisis response services with a concerted effort to prevent young people from falling into crisis in the first place. In addition, King County’s Best Starts for Kids levy includes $19 million for a Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative, providing a new opportunity to prevent homelessness in this population.
Seattle-King County will strengthen its work to understand the needs of homeless young people in the coming months, having been selected as one of 22 partner communities in a new national study led by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. The study—dubbed Voices of Youth Count—will conduct an additional youth PIT count and surveys later this year at each of its study locations. The results will inform national best practices on youth homelessness data collection methods and enable a national estimate of youth homelessness.
“King County has been a leader in recognizing the importance of having reliable data to end youth homelessness,” said Bryan Samuels, Executive Director of Chapin Hall. “By participating in Voices of Youth Count – and using new ways to count and understand the experiences of homeless youth – King County both will contribute to and benefit from the Voices of Youth Count national learning community. Together we will progress toward an effective, coordinated national and regional response to end the cycle of youth homelessness.”
Detailed results of the count are available in the Count Us In 2016 report.
As part of the implementation of Coordinated Entry for All (CEA), regionally-based resource centers—regional access points (RAP)—will be created to serve as the primary front-door for our homeless housing system. The King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is seeking qualified agencies to submit proposals to implement RAPs in designated subregions of King County. Approximately $1M is available for up to five locations. Successful agencies will have access to additional funding to provide diversion and transportation services. RAP locations will serve homeless families, single adults, and young adults (including young adults at imminent risk of losing their housing). Applications are due April 7, and a bidders conference will be held on March 24. All details on this solicitation are available at the King County Procurement website.
Our community is facing a number of changes in how we do our work with individuals experiencing homelessness and we are embarking on two very essential shifts: changing our HMIS system, and launching a coordinated engagement process to access housing, called Coordinated Entry for All (CEA). Both of these changes offer an opportunity for us to improve our work together to better support people experiencing homelessness and to reach our collective goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and a one-time experience.
Many of you participate in the Homeless Management and Information System (HMIS) and are aware that we are changing both the HMIS system vendor (moving from Adsystech to Bit Focus) and the administrator (from City of Seattle to King County). The King County HMIS is scheduled to go live with BitFocus on April 1st. For more detailed information about the transition, commonly used forms, and required training dates and registration, please visit the King County HMIS Transition website.
Likewise, many of you have been involved in the planning and design of CEA. Here are the key updates including what will happen over the next several weeks during the HMIS transition:
- Overall CEA design: An overview of the updated timeline for CEA implementation can be found here.
- King County Housing and Community Development (HCD) is preparing to be the system administrator for CEA and will soon be releasing an RFP to identify four Regional Access Points (or HUBs) throughout King County. The Regional Access Points are part of establishing a decentralized assessment approach and are estimated to launch in June 2016 to serve all populations.
- In addition to these locations, CEA will incorporate mobile and community based housing assessors. Details on how and where the additional assessments will take place are still being determined.
- The VI-SPDAT has been chosen as the CEA Triage Tool for common assessment with tailored versions for single adults, young adults, and families. Veterans have been using the VI-SPDAT since 2015. Family Housing Connection (FHC) and Youth Housing Connection (YHC) will begin using the new assessments in March 2016 in alignment with the new HMIS launching on April 1st. Families and Young Adults currently on the FHC and YHC placement rosters will need to be reassessed using the new tool. King County is providing added capacity to FHC and YHC during this transition and more detailed information, training, and messaging will be provided to the programs participating in FHC and YHC and to the families and young adults seeking housing supports.
- The inclusion of single adults in CEA will take a phased approach beginning in June 2016 with the adoption of the new assessment tool and a focus on referrals to Permanent Supportive Housing resources.
We appreciate all of the support and input you have provided on CEA thus far. Throughout implementation, the CEA design will continue to reflect our shared priorities for effective CEA including transparency, a person-centered approach, reduction of barriers, flexible resources, and increased housing options. The planning is also informed by the principles which guide the All Home Strategic Plan including:
- Involving the whole community,
- Including those experiencing homelessness,
- Prioritizing those whose health and safety are most vulnerable,
- Moving people into housing first and employment fast, by progressive engagement in services, and
- Utilizing data-driven assessment of needs and outcomes to drive policy and investments.
For more information on CEA and updates, please visit the Coordinated Entry page.
Mark Putnam and Kira Zylstra, All Home
All Home has released a statement on SB 6647. The Bring Washington Home Act, introduced by Senator Sharon Nelson, targets investments to address the crisis of homelessness across Washington State. This bill represents a critical step towards making homelessness rare, brief, and a one-time experience.
All Home supports this bill and its innovative, flexible, and outcome-oriented approach. We also thank Senator Nelson for her leadership on this issue.
This morning, under the guidance of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, over 1,000 volunteers spread out all over King County to witness and count the number of individuals living unsheltered for the annual One Night Count. All Home contracts with the Coalition to conduct this count. Volunteers estimate that 4,505 of our neighbors in King County were without shelter last night, a 19% increase over 2015.
From King County Executive Dow Constantine: “The One Night Count reveals the scope of the human tragedy of homelessness in our region. The results confirm the state of emergency and underscore the urgent need to work together – at every level of government and with our community partners – to create the housing, treatment, employment and other services that thousands of adults, children and families in King County need right now. We continue to call on our legislature and Congress to act. “
“We are committed to finding solutions to the crisis of homelessness. Though the need is great, homelessness is solvable, and by coming together as a community we can ensure that all people have a home” said Mark Putnam, Director of All Home.
The One Night Count is an important measure of need, and an opportunity to raise awareness and engagement among community members. This information is reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a requirement of our application for more than $30 million in federal funds for homeless housing and services each year.
“This is surely what an emergency looks like,” said Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness. “We’re grateful for the significant attention and increased resources Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine have put toward addressing recent rapid increases in homelessness. It is clear that this crisis affects our whole region and demands an unprecedented response.”
In the coming months, building on what we learned this morning about individuals living unsheltered, we will also estimate the number of veterans, chronically homeless individuals and people living in shelter and transitional housing to form a more comprehensive picture of homelessness in King County.
“It was important to me to participate in the Seattle/King County One Night Count this morning alongside many dedicated community members,” said Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. “Because of their efforts, we will have more information about the challenges Seattle/King County faces in its work to prevent and end homelessness. We look forward to working together to ensure that everyone in King County, and across the country, has a safe, stable place to call home.”
For a detailed summary of the One Night Count, please visit the Coalition’s website.
To learn more, see “Homeless in King County: Who, Why and What Can I Do?” To find out more about our plan to make homelessness rare, brief and one time in King County and to see how you can get involved, please visit our website, sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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.
All Home staff, in partnership with the Housing Alliance, Mockingbird Society, and YouthCare, sponsored a Housing and Homelessness Policy Briefing on Thursday the 14th in Olympia to engage with lawmakers on issues critical to addressing homelessness in our community. More than 50 lawmakers and their staff participated in the briefing which included 30 minutes of staff briefing and 30 minutes of a press briefing. Some of the priority issues covered at the briefing included the Housing Trust Fund, the Consolidated Homeless Grant shortfall, Housing and Essential Needs, Source of Income Discrimination, HOPE beds for homeless youth, and the Homeless Student Stability Act. Thanks to Representatives Fey, Robinson, Kagi, Senn and Senator Frokt for speaking at the event.
The All Home 2016 Legislative Priorities are available here.
The PowerPoint used in the briefing is available here.