LOCAL NEWS

Report: Chronic homelessness reaches crisis levels in King County

May 19, 2021, 4:57 AM
homelessness, ballot initiative, ACLU lawsuit...
Homeless tent in Seattle. (J. Warne)
(J. Warne)

Chronic homelessness rose 42% annually in King County and 27% statewide, according to a new report from Challenge Seattle.

State lawmaker touts ‘common sense’ pilot program to fight homeless crisis in Grays Harbor

“Our state is at a crossroad,” said Challenge Seattle CEO and former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. “A global pandemic has deepened economic inequities and exposed the gaps in our health care systems, making the exit out of chronic homelessness even more challenging. This is a pivotal moment for the region. We cannot recover from COVID-19 without addressing the economic, healthcare, and inequity crisis that is chronic homelessness.”

The report states that King County has the second-highest rate of chronic homelessness growth in the United States. Homelessness also ranks as the top issue for county residents, with 42% saying it’s a leading priority and 91% saying that lawmakers need to redesign mental health and substance abuse treatment systems to truly reduce homelessness.

According to Challenge Seattle, around 4,000 mental health crisis calls are attributable to the chronically homeless population each year, but the system is designed to support only up to 2,000 through behavioral health crisis diversion. The report also says that individuals experiencing homelessness are booked into King County Jail at 45 times the rate of the general population.

While the Boston Consulting Group, which conducted the research, found that good progress has been made in addressing youth and family homelessness, existing policies and initiatives have not successfully addressed chronic homelessness.

But, there’s proof that it can be done. Other jurisdictions have slowed the growth of their chronically homeless population, including in San Diego County, which has more people than King County and has brought its growth rate down to 2%, the lowest among large West Coast counties.

“The data are clear: we must fundamentally change the way Washington state and the King County region address chronic homelessness, taking a more centralized, data-driven, and individualized approach that addresses people’s needs in real time with both housing and services,” Gregoire said. “The chronic homelessness crisis is a healthcare crisis, it is an economic crisis, and it is an equity crisis. Every day that we allow our neighbors to continue to live unsheltered, without the timely and necessary services, we are losing lives that could have been saved.”

Seattle’s two new hotel homeless shelters are now officially open

The report from Challenge Seattle also recommends six steps to make changes, including the creation of emergency housing, providing on-demand services, and establishing a command center with a focus on equity. Additionally, the report suggests employing qualified case workers and those with lived experience.

King County’s Health Through Housing program is consistent with these recommendations.

Local News

(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
2 days ago
Seattle Sun...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Sunny skies, warm temperatures forecast for western Washington this weekend

Sunny skies and warm temperatures are forecast for much of western Washington, with some areas expected to reach temps in the 70s.
2 days ago
Student STEM...
Nicole Jennings

From athletes to mathletes: STEM Signing Day shines light on WA scholars

STEM Signing Day gives stellar science, technology, engineering, and math scholars a chance to shine in the same way as high school athletes.
2 days ago
Prison 900x506...
MyNorthwest Staff

Governor Inslee cancels parole determination for triple murderer

Governor Inslee has cancelled an order that granted parole to Timothy Pauley, who had been incarcerated for three counts of first degree murder in 1981.
2 days ago
revive I-5...
MyNorthwest Staff

Revive I-5, Montlake Bridge closure will cause traffic issues this weekend

The sunny forecast will put Seattleites in a great mood this weekend, but the traffic won't thanks to repairs to I-5 and the Montlake Bridge.
2 days ago
Police follow protesters as they move through the city during racial justice protests on November 3...
Hanna Scott

Report on 2020 protests recommends new training for SPD, debunks “mob psychology”

SPD’s approach to the 2020 protests underutilized de-escalation through dialogue and relied on indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Report: Chronic homelessness reaches crisis levels in King County