As Seattle is moving ahead with a plan to boost its emergency spending to fight homelessness in the city to $7.6 million, there have been calls for more to be done at the state and federal level. King County has responded.
Earlier this week, County Executive Dow Constantine announced $17 million plan in spending and the creation of an additional 237 units of affordable housing. The initiative will provide rental assistance to those who used to be homeless, military veterans, immigrants and refugees, and families fleeing domestic violence, the announcement reads.
“We continue to take action to help those who are homeless today, and prevent children and families from falling into homelessness tomorrow,” Constantine said. “This humanitarian crisis requires a comprehensive, prevention-oriented approach that crosses all levels of government working with community partners. We’re delivering results at the local level — now we need our Legislature and Congress to join us.”
The county is touting more than $17 million in spending to address the crisis:
- $280,000 in emergency funding to expand shelter capacity and access in South and East King County and create a day center in South King County.
- $7 million for capital projects that will create an additional 237 units of affordable housing, including units reserved for military veterans and formerly homeless residents.
- $10 million in rental assistance, funds to operate affordable housing so that it is a positive asset in the community, and funds for support services to help families and individuals remain stably housed through case management, help finding employment, education, and other services.
With Seattle’s issues around encampments and the continuing to grow number of people living unsheltered in the city, critics of programs to address the issue have criticized City Hall for being too soft on homeless people and welcoming all comers to “Freeattle.” But the numbers of homeless outside the city appear to be growing just as quickly — if not faster. The 2016 One Night Count found 4,505 people living unsheltered in the streets of King County overnight. That’s a 19% increase over last year’s survey. In Seattle, the count found 2,942 outside, up from 2,813 in 2015, a 4.5% jump.