LOCAL NEWS

Seattle homeless crisis could be mostly fixed in a year, report says

Sep 8, 2016, 5:54 PM | Updated: 11:46 pm
seattle homeless crisis...
Experts told the city council that there is enough resources to address the Seattle homeless crisis if the city focused its efforts. (AP)
(AP)

Seattle already has the ability to house all unsheltered people in the city. The city is just not efficiently using its own tools to fix the Seattle homeless crisis.

That’s essentially the message from experts given to a Seattle City Council committee Thursday. Seattle has problems with its approach to homelessness — which is largely uncoordinated — that is preventing progress addressing the problem.

Focus Strategies and Barbara Poppe presented results from their individual assessments of the Seattle homeless crisis, current approaches, and what the city can do to solve it.

Less talk, more action: Homeless consultant critiques city council

Both came up with similar recommendations.

Solving the Seattle homeless crisis

Megan Kurteff Schatz with Focus Strategies said that if Seattle implemented their recommendations, every unsheltered person currently in the city could be sheltered by the end of 2017.

Both Kurteff Schatz and Poppe stressed that rapid rehousing needs to be emphasized for the Seattle homeless crisis. And further, the city needs to prioritize its approach to housing. For example, Poppe said that pregnant women and children under 1-years-old need to be put up front and not put on a waiting list; then prioritize children under age of four.

Currently, the city’s rate of placing people in permanent housing is well below national standards.

• 12 percent of adults find permanent housing through emergency shelters
• 31 percent of families find permanent housing through emergency shelters
• 60 percent of adults find permanent housing through transitional housing
• 73 percent of families find permanent housing through transitional housing

On a national level, moving from transitional housing into permanent housing is around 85 percent and above. As for the Seattle homeless crisis, Kurteff Schatz said that the low numbers speak to the fact shelters are not designed or staffed to help people get permanent housing.

Both experts also said that the city needs a person-based system where individuals are addressed, not a one-size fits all approach. That could translate to more outreach employees to handle cases. But outreach in Seattle is also not currently a coordinated effort between providers, Poppe noted.

Seattle’s shelters are not open 24/7, and that is also a significant problem. Those experiencing homelessness need to a stable shelter in order to move off of the streets, instead of moving in-and-out of a shelter each day. Those shelters also need to refocus their efforts. Many are helping those experiencing housing insecurity, which is a related problem but not directly related to the Seattle homeless crisis.

“You have a huge unsheltered population, yet much of your inventory is going to people who are unstably housed and seeking shelter services and other programs,” Kurteff Schatz said. “In order to see a reduction in unsheltered homelessness here you will need to focus all of your capacity on people who are already homeless.”

To do all of this, Seattle will have to defund under-performing programs. The city needs to start collecting data more efficiently, and setting performance standards for shelters and services. One thing that was mentioned is that Seattle needs, at least, quarterly reports on the effort. Counting the homeless population once a year barely counts as accurate data collecting. Ideally, Seattle would have daily data and know if a bed is free for a homeless person 24/7.

Affordable housing

Another key point that was repeatedly brought up was the issue of Seattle’s housing in general, and how affordable it is. It’s well-known that housing is scarce in Seattle, and very little — if any — is affordable. That is adding to Seattle’s homeless population and acting as a barrier for people to leave homelessness.

“You’re in a high cost rental market. It’s really hard for people to find affordable housing,” Kurteff Schatz said. “We know there is a strong connection between the high cost of housing and homelessness.”

“But you are a community that has invested a lot in affordable housing … You’ve got available affordable housing that does have vacancies that turn over,” she said. “But right now there is no systematic way to access that.”

Local News

REI...
Bill Kaczaraba

REI to lay off 167 employees at headquarters in Kent

Outdoor retailer REI is laying off 167 employees - 8% of its workforce - at their headquarters located in Kent.
1 day ago
dog daycare...
Frank Sumrall

Dogs rescued after flames erupt from Seattle dog daycare facility

A fire, now reportedly under control, started at a Seattle dog daycare facility, with firefighters still working to rescue some of the dogs.
1 day ago
sex offenders...
Kathryn Stone

Plan to house sex offenders in Tenino on pause amid public outcry

A housing facility for convicted sex offenders in Thurston County was expected to open today, but is now delayed.
1 day ago
Boeing 747...
Briseida Holguin, KIRO 7 News

Final Boeing 747 takes off from Everett facility

Spectators and airplane enthusiasts braved the cold Wednesday morning to see the last 747 take off from the Boeing facility in Everett.
1 day ago
crisis care dave upthegrove...
L.B. Gilbert

$1.25 billion Crisis Care Center levy passes King County Council

King County voters will get the chance to vote on a new levy that would allow the county to fund a new network of crisis care centers.
1 day ago
safe streets...
Micki Gamez

Seattle awarded $25.6 million for Safe Streets Grant

This federal funding, in addition to the $5.1 million in city funds, advances Seattle's Vision Zero safe streets plan.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Seattle homeless crisis could be mostly fixed in a year, report says