Our vision is that homelessness is rare in King County, racial disparities are eliminated, and if one becomes homeless, it is brief and only a one-time occurrence. Our four-year community developed Strategic Plan is a re-commitment to our vision of ending homelessness, and to the steps needed to make this vision a reality.
Leading with Race
All Home leads with race, with the recognition that groups of people are still marginalized based on gender, sexual orientation, ability, age, and many others. To have maximum impact, focus and specificity are necessary. Strategies to achieve racial equity differ from those to achieve equity in other areas but a racial equity framework that is clear about the differences between individual, institutional and structural racism, as well as the history and current reality of inequities, has applications for other marginalized groups.
Race can be an issue that keeps other marginalized communities from effectively coming together. An approach that recognizes the inter-connected ways in which marginalization takes place will help us to achieve greater unity across communities. As the Continuum of Care deepens its ability to address racial inequity, it will be better equipped to transform systems and institutions impacting other marginalized groups.
Reducing Racial Disparities
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 and Native American and Alaska Native individuals are seven times more likely to experience homelessness.
Homelessness is inextricably linked to racism. In fact, homelessness can be seen as a symptom of structural racism. The homeless response system can either perpetuate this racism or disrupt it with intentional and targeted funding, policies and service delivery.
A Commitment to Results for the American Indian/Alaska Native Population
The All Home Coordinating Board has made a formal commitment to improving outcomes for the American Indian/Alaska Native Population experiencing homelessness in King County. For the Continuum of Care, this commitment is realized through a Targeted Universalism approach that transforms our current homeless system response of universal strategies to strategies targeted to the American Indian/Alaska Native population. These targeted strategies will move us to our universal goals of making homelessness rare, brief and one-time, while also ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our community are not further marginalized.
Making Homelessness Rare
Making homelessness in King County rare is an ambitious goal, but an achievable one. Over the last 10 years, All Home has learned that making homelessness rare will require addressing the causes of homelessness, which are myriad and institutional. A 2013 national study found that community rates of homelessness are driven by rent increases in the housing market, the availability of a strong safety net, economy, demographics, and influx of people moving to a region. Working together with community advocates, providers and partners we will align our efforts towards prevention, increasing affordable housing and supporting the expansion of pre-adjudication programs and sentencing alternatives to make homelessness RARE in King County.
A New Focus on Prevention
The smartest approach is to stop homelessness before it starts. Some populations, such as youth exiting foster care, immigrants and refugees, and individuals exiting treatment programs, experience homelessness at a much higher rate than the general population. We’ve learned that assisting these individuals before a crisis occurs prevents them from spiraling into homelessness. Over the next four years, All Home will work closely with community initiatives to target investments towards communities where the need and opportunity are the greatest. To live up to our shared commitment to racial and social equity means we must make the shift from a costly, crisis-oriented response to health and social problems to one that focuses on prevention, embraces recovery, and eliminates disparities.
A Commitment to Creating More Affordable Housing
It’s simple but true: the more affordable and flexible housing options that exist, the easier it becomes to house people. All Home is committed to a community-wide effort to push for federal, state and local policies and funding that increases housing for very low-income households (those earning below 30% of Area Median Income). We must do more to help formerly homeless households find housing in King County’s highly competitive housing market. All Home has launched the innovative OneHome campaign, a ground-breaking alliance with landlords, who agree to open up units in their buildings to prospective tenants who might normally be passed over in the screening process in exchange for incentives to landlords and services to tenants that help tenants remain stably housed.
An Expansion of Pre-Adjudication and Sentencing Alternatives
Housing problems, including homelessness, are common among individuals leaving institutions such as jails, foster care, treatment programs and hospitals. One in five people who leave prison become homeless soon thereafter, if not immediately (Study: NAEH Re-Entry) and the presence of a criminal history creates barriers to housing through the channels that are open to other low-income people. All Home is working with local jurisdictions to support the enhancement and expansion of pre-adjudication programs and sentencing alternatives that help individuals avoid a criminal history while reducing criminal recidivism.
Making Homelessness Brief and One-Time
For too many people, a temporary crisis will result in homelessness. While we may not be able to prevent everyone from becoming homeless, shortening the length of time families and individuals are homeless reduces trauma and is also an important way to maximize the value of our limited resources. And working together as a community, we can prevent it from happening again.
A New Focus on Individualized Approaches
We have learned a great deal about how to tailor homeless housing and services to an individual’s needs (typology). We now need to take a system level approach to realign our resources to create the right mix to meet the needs of families and individuals, move them into permanent housing faster, and connect them to community supports to maintain housing stability. All Home, local housing organizations and funders will use the System Wide Analytics and Projection (SWAP) suite of tools to identify the appropriate array of homeless interventions that best match the needs of people experiencing homelessness. This will result in freeing up more intensive (and expensive) interventions for individuals that need them, while also allowing us to serve many times more people, more quickly.
A Commitment to Rapid Re-Housing
Rapid re-housing is an emerging best practice housing model for households experiencing homelessness. Communities across the country are using rapid re-housing approaches to shorten the time families spend homeless and serve more families by providing cost-effective short-term assistance. The model has shown impressive outcomes nationally, and our local pilot for families is designed to transition families experiencing homelessness into permanent housing quickly by offering:
- Housing Search and Stabilization Services
- Short-Term Rental and Move-In Assistance
- Individualized Employment Assistance
An interim evaluation report on first year results for the Rapid Re-housing For Families Pilot in King County highlights the model’s success. All Home is working with partners to take this approach to scale for all populations.
Every night in King County thousands of people are on the streets without a place to sleep. Some are individuals, some are families. Some are older, others are mere teenagers. They are our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our veterans and our youth. They deserve better. Homelessness isn’t somebody else’s problem. It is our problem. All of us have a part to play in meeting the challenge posed by the people in our community who are living on our streets. Only by coming together as a community can we achieve our goal of making homelessness in King County rare, brief and one-time. After 10 years of intensive effort, we’ve learned what works – and what doesn’t. We’ve learned that, yes, homelessness in our region is a large problem, but we’ve also learned that it won’t be solved by large organizations or new rules and regulations. It will be solved by individuals like you, individuals who come together in a community-wide partnership to create positive change. All Home has a renewed and focused vision for achieving our shared goal of making homelessness brief, rare and one-time in King County. But we know we cannot do it alone. If we are to succeed in ending homelessness it will take our entire community coming together in caring and compassionate engagement.
Uniting Neighbors in a Common Cause
All Home is embarking on an ambitious new four-year public campaign to activate our community around the issue of homelessness. Working together, we will focus efforts and resources around exciting new and accessible opportunities for compassionate action. There’s an opportunity – and a need – for every person in King County to step up and help make a difference. Whether it is volunteering at your local shelter or homeless service organization, making donations of goods or money or participating in community conversations and forums that build awareness and incubate new ideas, All Home is here to help you connect, in a way that is both meaningful and right for you, in this community effort to tackle homelessness. We need you and your neighbors and your friends and your family to join us in pushing for change through meaningful action.
Expanding the Circle of Engagement
All Home is also rethinking the way we best engage various sectors of our community to maximize our opportunity to make a difference. For example, we are reaching out to the business community to seek partnerships around issues like job creation and training for those currently or recently experiencing homelessness, housing access and advocating for needed state and local policy changes. Our newly formed business leaders task force will be advising us on the best goals and strategies for how the business community can best support our work. We’ve learned that effective collaboration is an ongoing process that never truly ends. Working together as an engaged, informed and compassionate community we have the power to make homelessness brief, rare and one-time in King County. Please join us as we embark upon this ambitious but achievable journey to end homelessness — we can’t do it without you.