King County, Seattle finally unveil next steps for unified homeless effort

Sep 4, 2019, 12:59 PM

Homelessness, homeless, Dow Constantine, Jenny Durkan, homeless response, King County homeless auth...

Seattle and King County leaders announcing legislation back in September for a new unified authority to tackle homelessness. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

(Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

Seattle and King County officials have been touting an organized collaborative effort to tackle homelessness for almost a year and a half. Now, it appears as though some actionable progress has finally been made toward implementation.

Three years later, Seattle’s homeless emergency persists

“Over the last 18 months, there has been an enormous amount of work,” said Mark Prentice, the Director of Communications for Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office. “The focus has been on agreeing on an Interlocal Agreement and Charter – that includes staffing, governance, oversight, authority/scope, funding, and a lot more.”

“This is a major effort and necessitated a lot of work,” noted Executive Dow Constantine’s communications director, Alex Fryer.

A Wednesday morning announcement detailed efforts to draft legislation creating a single, unified body to tackle the region’s homeless crisis. This new entity — called the King County Regional Homelessness Authority — will consolidate funding and policy-making for homelessness between King County and the City of Seattle.

Understanding Seattle’s homeless issues

The new collaborative entity will be responsible for the following:

  • Unifying preventative and emergency funding and services for shelters, outreach programs, and diversion
  • Coordinating housing solutions at every level, including permanent supportive, transitional, and rapid rehousing
  • Overseeing policy, contract management, performance management, and technical assistance
  • Establishing metrics and milestones to better measure success and promote accountability
  • Funding for “Continuum of Care” treatment that tracks patients over time

Funding will be split between King County and Seattle, paying $56.8 million and $75 million respectively for things like start-up costs, administrative funding, services, and more.

The new authority will be run by an 11-person governing board. Each of Constantine, Durkan, King County Council, and Seattle City Council will appoint two members to the board. The remaining three members will be appointed by what’s been labeled as a “Steering Committee.”

The Steering Committee will be comprised of Constantine, a King County Council member, Durkan, a Seattle City Council member, as many as two Sound Cities Association members, and “two people with lived experience of homelessness.”

The original plan for this “One Table” regional approach was first unveiled in Dec. 2017. Almost a year later, officials announced their intent to “create a set of recommendations and action steps.” Now eight months after that, legislation will next go before Seattle City Council and King County Council.

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King County, Seattle finally unveil next steps for unified homeless effort