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Candidate chosen to lead King County homelessness authority turns down job

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

In early February, the nascent King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) picked Atlanta consultant Regina Cannon as its CEO, seemingly putting an end to a lengthy selection process that was already months behind schedule. That timeline was thrown further into tumult Wednesday, with Cannon telling the authority’s governing body that she would be turning down the job.

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Cannon did not provide a reason for her decision, which now has the KCRHA staring down the latest in a series of delays it has faced since it was first conceived in 2017. The group’s governing board met for the first time in May 2020.

The KCRHA was designed to oversee countywide policy, funding, and services for people experiencing homelessness. It was originally crafted by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and was amended by members of their respective councils and committees. The organization’s funding is split between King County and Seattle, paying $56.8 million and $75 million, respectively, for things like start-up costs, administrative funding, and services.

The group’s implementation board had originally hoped to select a CEO by September 2020. That process was delayed by a combination of infighting and pandemic-related obstacles. Cannon was scheduled to assume the mantle in March as the KCRHA’s first official employee, and would have been tasked with filling out the rest of the organization’s staffing.

Seattle, County homeless response paralyzed by bureaucracy

The KCRHA does have another candidate that was named as a frontrunner in its initial CEO search in policy strategist Marc Dones, who currently serves as the executive director for the National Innovation Service.

It’s unclear whether its governing body will next pivot to Dones, or go back to the drawing board to begin a new search process.

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