Dozens of governments, philanthropies, nonprofits and business entities are at work everyday through King County to address homelessness. but their efforts are often disconnected from one another.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan conceived of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority as a single place where all stakeholders could come together and determine how best to contribute to success.
Now it’s up to the King County Council and Seattle City Council to make it real by voting yes, hopefully by mid-December, on an interlocal agreement and a charter to authorize the creation of the new public development authority to administer and oversee regional homelessness efforts.
“We are determined to create a service system that seeks solutions to the disproportionality of homelessness among communities of color and listens to the voices of those with lived experience of homelessness as some of our most insightful consultants. Our vision is a homeless response system that is fair and just for all,” Constantine said.
“Over the last 22 months, we’ve seen more alignment in our region than ever before, and we’ve also seen the first decline in homelessness in Seattle and King County since 2012. We need to keep that progress going, and that’s why the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority is so important,” Durkan said.
People with lived experience of homelessness played a key role in the development of the ILA and charter, and the new governance structure ensures that they hold leadership roles moving forward. Another key focus is the issue of disproportionality of homelessness among communities of color and ensuring that the new authority improves and strengthens equity and social justice efforts throughout the service systems.
“I believe every city in King County shares the goal of a coordinated, seamless system that successfully transitions every individual and family experiencing homelessness into secure housing,” said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus. “I strongly support the Authority’s prioritization is sub-regional planning – allowing community-driven plans and responses that will recognize that Auburn is not Seattle, Seattle is not Kirkland, and so on. I look forward to continuing conversations with Executive Constantine, Mayor Durkan and the councils as this legislation is finalized.”
The King County Regional Homelessness Authority will focus on unifying and coordinating the homeless response system for Seattle and King County. Following a thorough review of the programs and services provided by both the city and county, the scope of the Authority will include coordination of all outreach, diversion, shelter, rapid re-housing, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing services and most of the region’s prevention efforts.
The Authority will assume oversight of shelters currently contracted with the city of Seattle and King County. Capital housing efforts will not be included, nor will the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team.
The new Office of the Ombuds under the Authority will help people receiving housing services resolve issues with conditions and programming. As patterns emerge, the Ombuds will suggest changes to policies and contracts to improve the system.
King County will dedicate about $55 million in service and administrative funding (based on 2019 annualized program amounts) and $1.8 million to support start-up. The city of Seattle will dedicate approximately $73 million for services and administrative funding, and up to $2 million for start-up costs. Actual funding will be subject to appropriations through the normal budget process of the respective councils and through a pending decision of the All Home Coordinating Board.
Funding amounts from King County and Seattle include more than $42 million of federally awarded Continuum of Care funds.