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Seattle is boasting success in housing homeless between 2017 and 2018

Tiny houses on display May 30, 2018 as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced an increased effort to address homelessness with the homes. (Matt Pitman, KIRO Radio)

The City of Seattle is reporting a considerable increase in the number of people it has moved off the street and under a roof in one year. But not all the numbers are an improvement.

“We’re encouraged by the increases in placing people in housing and in the investments to enhance shelters with more services,” said Human Services Department Interim Director Jason Johnson.

RELATED: King County homeless population continues to increase

The city is boasting new numbers comparing the first quarter of 2017 with the first quarter of 2018. A total of 3,030 households moved into permanent housing or maintained their housing in the first quarter of 2018. This is much higher than in 2017 — an increase of 1,241 households.

The city also increased the rate at which it places people into permanent housing between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018.

  • Seattle’s diversion program (primarily helps people avoid emergency shelters) placed 19 percent more people into permanent housing in early 2018 than in 2017.
  • The rapid rehousing program got 10 percent more people into permanent housing; it also had a success rate of 83 percent. Funding for this program went from $4.3 million in 2017 to $7.2 million in 2018.
  • Permanent supportive housing is mostly for chronically homeless people. It has had a success rate of 99 percent, helping people maintain housing or leave supportive housing. In the first quarter of 2017, it was 98 percent. Funding for this program went from $9.3 million in 2017 to $13.2 million in 2018.
  • Seattle also found out that enhanced shelters helped five times more people move into permanent housing than basic shelters. Enhanced shelters have extended hours with case management from social workers. Basic shelters placed people into housing at a rate of 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Enhanced shelters had a success rate of 20.5 percent during that same time. These enhanced shelters increased their rate of placement into permanent housing by 3.7 percent between 2017 and 2018.

Other Seattle homeless numbers

Data from the first quarter of 2018 wasn’t all good news. Seattle’s seven tiny house villages provide spaces for more than 300 people every night. They are at capacity. The city was able to place 17 percent of households into permanent housing through the villages in the first quarter of 2018. This is a 1 percent decrease from the same quarter in 2017. Officials expect this rate to be on the rise with new investments in case management at the villages.

RELATED: Inside the tiny home solution to homelessness

Prevention programs also saw a decrease in exits to permanent housing. That rate went from 94 percent in the first quarter of 2017 to 89 percent in 2018. The city notes that this program takes 90 days to offer support services, so some data may be missing from the first quarter numbers.

Seattle is slated to spend $71 million toward homelessness in 2018. That money will go toward 155 contracts across 39 agencies to provide services to people experiencing homelessness.

“We are working with agencies every day to oversee the city’s public investments to help people experiencing homelessness,” Johnson said. “We compile quarterly data to help us understand how our investments are performing as part of a system of support for people.”


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