News

Federal Continuum of Care Grants Announced

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced over $1.9 billion in total grants nationwide for homelessness in what HUD called “the most competitive ever” year. In all, over $35 million in federal homeless assistance funds was awarded jointly to the City of Seattle and King County, including over $4.3 million in new funding to create housing for more than 350 households across the region. In addition, this announcement will allow our community to renew critical funding for new and existing homeless housing and services countywide for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“We know how to end homelessness and these grants support local programs that are proven to prevent and end homelessness as we’ve come to know it,” said HUD Secretary Julian Castro in announcing the funding grants.

New projects funded by HUD will create 243 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless single adults in four projects, three located in Seattle and one with scattered sites countywide. New funding will also provide 49 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless families. The federal grant also supports rapid re-housing to help 95 homeless households quickly transition from homelessness to permanent housing. Seventy of those units will target youth and young adults who are either in shelter or on the streets.

“This funding is essential for people experiencing homelessness,” said Mark Putnam, director of All Home. “Over the last three grant awards, we have shifted the focus towards the goals of our plan, to permanent housing solutions. We have also been successful in competing for bonus funds. Yet we still need more from Congress this session to help with housing, mental health and the opiate crisis.”

Seattle and King County jointly apply for the federal Continuum of Care grants each year. In a very competitive process, the region received its largest award ever from HUD.

The full list of organizations receiving funds can be viewed here.

Affordable Housing Week

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The Housing Development Consortium (HDC) is kicking off King County’s first-ever Affordable Housing Week, alongside partners from across the County, to highlight the current need and potential policy solutions for preserving and creating affordable housing in cities all throughout King County. Affordable Housing Week is a new annual tradition to show why affordable housing is so important in all of our communities, and to demonstrate support for the movement to ensure that all people have the chance to live in safe, healthy, affordable homes within communities of opportunity.

Today, the Metropolitan King County Council, proclaimed May 16-22 “Affordable Housing Week.” In addition, 20 cities across King County have also signed on to Affordable Housing Week!

As part of Affordable Housing Week, HDC is holding an Elected Official Reception on Thursday, May 19 4:30 – 6:30 pm at El Centro de la Raza (2524 16th Avenue South Seattle, WA 98144). This event is open to HDC members, housing advocates, supporters, elected officials, community members and friends, and will be a great opportunity to show elected officials our strength in number and passion for safe, equitable, and affordable homes. Please register to attend this event here.

More information on Affordable Housing Week can be found here.

Homeless Rights Advocacy Project Identifies Laws that Target the Visibly Poor

Seattle University School of Law’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP) has released six new reports that continue the group’s influential, groundbreaking research into laws that target the visibly poor. The new reports examine the impacts of increasingly popular laws and policies that criminalize homelessness, such as prohibitions on living in vehicles, sweeps of tent encampments, pet ownership standards, and barriers to access at emergency shelters.

“Our research in 2015 started an important conversation, both locally and nationally, about treating people with compassion and fairness under the law,” said Professor Sara Rankin, HRAP’s faculty director. “These new reports take that conversation to the next level.”

HRAP students conducted extensive legal research and analysis to complete the briefs, conducting interviews with a wide range of experts (including people experiencing homelessness); surveying municipal, state, and federal laws; and reviewing legal standards set by previous court decisions.

“We found that common homelessness myths are refuted by statistics, experience, case law, and common sense,” said Justin Olson, a third-year law student. “These are the issues that people experiencing homelessness struggle with every day.”

The new reports identify specific common problems and offer effective, legally sound alternatives.

The full reports are available here.

#40toNoneDay

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This year’s Count Us In report found 824 youth and young adults ages 12-25 throughout our region who were sleeping on the street, in shelters, or in temporary housing. Approximately 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), yet LGBT young people make up less than 7% of the general youth population. While identity-based family rejection is the most commonly cited reason, there are many factors that contribute to LGBT youth homelessness. The True Colors Fund launched #40toNoneDay with the goal of reducing the disproportionate percentage from 40% to none. #40toNoneDay is a national day to raise public awareness about LGBT youth homelessness, and to provide supporters with simple ways to make a difference.

The King County Council released a proclamation marking April 27, 2016 “40 to None Day” and encouraging all county residents to support this effort.

What can community members do to support LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness?

One strategy that has been successful in responding to the needs of LGBTQ young people experiencing homelessness in other communities is host homes. Host homes allow community members to provide a room in their home for young people without another place to stay. All Home has been working with several partners to implement host homes in King County, and the Accelerator YMCA is now launching a brand new host homes program. If you are interested in opening your home to a young person in need and/or learning more about the Accelerator YMCA’s Host Home Program, please contact Nicole Guiberteaux, at (206) 462-9327 or acceleratorhosthome@seattleymca.org .

Count Us In 2016 shows youth homelessness steady in King County

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.

RFP for Coordinated Entry Regional Access Points Released

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.