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With Seattle approval, King County Regional Homelessness Authority will take shape in 2020

The Seattle City Council, with strings attached, approved its part of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority Monday paving the way for the effort to launch next year.

CHS reported last week on an ordinance shaped by the council to enable the city to pull out portions of its planned $73 million in funding for the $132 million new county authority hoped to reorganize how homelessness services are planned and deployed across the county.

Lorena González, the only Seattle council member to vote against the agreement Monday, represented concerns that the county’s shaping of the new authority gives too much power to suburban city governments:

Gonzalez voiced her disappointment this afternoon that “politics has already taken hold,” given that one of her issues was that major policy decisions of the new agency were not sufficiently shielded from meddling by elected officials. Gonzalez said today that she saw it as “a signal of what’s to come.”

The new authority is hoped to better organize the various county and city services currently addressing homelessness in the area and, despite its footing the majority of the bill, the Seattle end of the equation has also been pitched as an opportunity for neighboring cities to help address the crisis.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has championed the plan, said Monday’s approval represented a “consolidated, equity-driven agreement where experts are empowered to lead recommendations.”

“In 2020, we set forth on a new path to consolidate services that are too fractured and don’t serve individuals experiencing homelessness,” she said.

The Seattle Times outlined the first steps for the new authority:

Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine are expected to sign the final agreement creating the authority, after which the new authority’s governing committee, a group of elected officials and people who have experienced homelessness, will need to meet within 90 days. A search will begin for the authority’s CEO. King County and Seattle staffers whose work falls under the new homelessness authority will be relocated to a new space.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, who has harshly criticized the Durkan administration’s approach to homelessness, was one of three council members not present for Monday’s vote.


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