Coalition of businesses to put $10 million into addressing Seattle homelessness
Seattle and King County leaders announced a new initiative to address homelessness on Thursday, backed by $10 million in funding from companies like Amazon, Starbucks, and Microsoft.
The unveiling was billed as a “major homelessness announcement,” designed to “dramatically reduce unsheltered homelessness in downtown Seattle.” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Regional Homelessness Authority CEO Marc Dones, and a group of corporate philanthropists were all present.
The effort will be known as “Partnership for Zero,” and will use donated funds to stand up a new team of 30 outreach workers operating from within the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. That team will focus its attention on homeless campers between Belltown and the International District, essentially acting as their end-to-end guides through the process of getting them into a shelter space that fits their individual needs.
The goal is to have Partnership for Zero reduce the number of unhoused individuals in the downtown area to fewer than 30. The number of unhoused individuals is currently estimated to be somewhere between 800 and 1,000, signaling a heavy lift for the new initiative.
“Solving homelessness, especially chronic homelessness, is not an easy task; the problems we are trying to solve reached this level because of years of inattention and underfunding,” Dones said a press release. “It requires time and focus to do it right — peoples’ lives depend on it — and this partnership is designed to work in a different way than what has been done before.”
The initiative will roll out in five phases, beginning with a “ramp-up” period to establish “clean lines of decision-making authority over resources,” followed by compiling a “granular, real-time” list of unhoused individuals and their specific needs in order to facilitate a “move to stability.” The plan is to have that lead into case planning and “service matching,” culminating in shelter and housing placement.
The coalition says it could potentially reach the final “hold steady” phase for the downtown core in “as fast as 12 months.”
This work will occur in tandem with the addition of roughly 2,000 permanent supportive housing units spread out across King County, which are expected to begin taking in new residents within the next year.