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Officials hope for solutions beyond Seattle from King County Regional Homelessness Authority

It has been a caveat on nearly every major Seattle effort to combat homelessness. The problem, many contend, is regional. Wednesday, the City of Seattle and King County rolled out the plan to try to address the crisis at a higher level.

County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan announced legislation Wednesday that will create a new regional authority overseeing “a unified response to homelessness.”

The new King County Regional Homelessness Authority will “administer and oversee regional homelessness efforts” including:

  • 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.

“Today marks the start of a new era in the fight against homelessness for our entire region,” Durkan said in an announcement of the new authority.

“The historic step we are taking today will help do more to prevent homelessness, to serve people experiencing homelessness, and to center race and social justice in everything we do. It will take all of us working together as we stand up this new entity and come together to truly unify our work to build a better future for our entire region,” Durkan said.

King County will dedicate about $55 million in service and administrative funding and $1.8 million to support start-up. Seattle is adding 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,” the announcement reads.

Funding amounts from King County and Seattle include more than $42 million of federally awarded Continuum of Care funds, according to the county.

The effort will be headed by an appointed governing board:

The 11-member Governing Board will be comprised of experts who provide guidance, management, and oversight to the PDA. All are confirmed by the Steering Committee. Three members must have lived experience of homelessness. The King County Executive, King County Council, Seattle Mayor, and Seattle City Council each appoint two members. The Steering Committee’s two members with lived experience will jointly appoint three Governing Board members. The Governing Board hires, fires, and reviews the performance of the Executive Director.

To create the authority, the Seattle City Council and the King County Council will take up legislation in coming weeks with a goal for approval by mid-December, according to the county’s announcement.

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1 year ago

I’m one of those people who have issues with Seattle’s homeless programs because we needed a regional approach (If we build it will they come … from Renton, Bellevue, Tacoma, etc.). Seattle’s generosity is making Seattle’s problems worse.

This is a great start to a regional process. Once we add Snohomish and Thurston counties we’ll really be on a path to a truly regional response, rather than just moving the issue from place to place.