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.
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.
Homelessness is inextricably linked to racism. In fact, homelessness can be seen as a symptom of structural racism. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty argues that “homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in the United States of America have a disparate racial impact, in violation of the United States’ obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.” In King County, nearly two thirds of people experiencing homelessness are people and families of color. African Americans are five times more likely to experience homelessness than their white counterparts in King County and Native American and Alaska Native individuals are seven times more likely to experience homelessness.
Our strategic plan to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time in King County also seeks to eliminate racial disparities. We know that addressing homelessness includes having difficult conversations about race. Truly ending homelessness will require bold action, from all of us, to create meaningful change in the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness in our community. All Home is committed to racial justice and in an effort to create a culture in which we can talk frankly about race, each week we will highlight articles, data, and stories that further the conversation on the intersection between race and homelessness. We invite you, our partners, to join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or by emailing us directly.
The King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is seeking qualified agencies to submit proposals to implement prevention services for youth and families at risk of homelessness. Best Starts for Kids is an initiative to improve the health and well-being of King County by investing in prevention and early intervention for children, youth, families, and communities, and recognizes the disproportionate representation of people of color who enter homelessness. Details regarding this funding opportunity are available here. The application will close on September 20, 2016.
Application Technical Assistance Support
King County has awarded the Non-Profit Assistance Center with a contract to provide Technical Assistance to agencies as they complete the Application. Technical support will include:
- Support to small agencies in evaluating whether they should apply for funding
- Individualized and regional support to agencies to draft RFP responses
2016 Application Bidder’s Workshops
|Monday, August 15th, 2016||9am-Noon||CCS, 100 23rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144|
|Tuesday, August 16th, 2016||1pm-3:30pm||Multi-Service Center, 1200 S. 336th St, Federal Way, WA 98003|
|Wednesday, August 17th, 2016||11:30am-2pm||YWCA, 1010 S. 2nd Street, Renton, WA 98057|
|Thursday, August 18th, 2016||1pm-3:30pm||First Congregational Church in Bellevue, 11061 NE 2nd St, Bellevue, WA 98004|
|Friday, August 19th, 2016||10am-12:30pm||North Seattle Opportunity Center, 9600 College Way N., Seattle, WA 98103|
King County is one of 22 national regions selected to participate in Voices of Youth Count, an innovative research effort linking evidence and action to end youth homelessness. The project includes a point-in-time count on June 30. Partners are encouraged to invited unstably housed and homeless youth ages 13-25 to participate in a short survey and youth will receive a $5 gift card for their time. Drop-in “Come and Be Counted” locations for the survey are here, and youth will also be counted by street outreach teams, at shelters, and at transitional housing programs. The Voices of Youth Count is a two-year project that includes local policy and fiscal scans, youth focus groups, data review, the point-in-time count and more. Initial findings of the project will be available in late 2016.