Board members of All Home stand behind King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan during a May 3 press conference at the Salvation Army William Booth Center. Photo by Josh Kelety

Board members of All Home stand behind King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan during a May 3 press conference at the Salvation Army William Booth Center. Photo by Josh Kelety

King County and Seattle agree to restructure regional homelessness programs

The move comes after calls for change from advocates within the system.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed a “memorandum of understanding” today stating that they will develop a more centralized homelessness response system.

Specifically, the memorandum states that both Seattle and King County will develop recommendations on how to improve the governance structure of the current array of homeless services by Dec. 1, 2018. The development process will involve stakeholder input and assessment of various models of homeless services authorities in other cities—such as the Portland/Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services.

The action comes after advocates and service providers for the homeless raised concerns that the lack of a centralized authority over regional homelessness responses hindered their ability to make an impact. All Home, King County’s official stakeholder body tasked with developing and coordinating the regional homeless response, has been called ineffective by its own members for its lack of power over how county and city governments spend money on homeless services.

A May 1 report from the King County Auditor’s Office added to the chorus of criticism, concluding that All Home’s non-existent power over local governments undermined its ability to advance a unified plan to combat homelessness.

Beyond systematic restructuring, the newly-signed Seattle and King County agreement also outlines several short-term goals. Housing and human service agencies from both King County and the City of Seattle will begin using joint contract language when funding non-profit service providers, which critics have argued that this will streamline the process. Additionally, the agencies will review their data collection practices for potential improvements, and establish “shared budget priorities” for addressing the regional homeless population.

“We are scrutinizing our own systems and our own governance structure,” Constantine said at a May 3 press conference alongside Durkan and board members of All Home. “For all of its success, All Home has made clear that they do not hold the authority to make the needed funding decisions or to direct service priorities.”

“One of the things that is holding us back is our fractured response to homelessness,” said Durkan. “Until now, the oversight has existed between the Seattle Human Services Department, the Seattle Office of Housing, the county Department of Community Health and Services, dozens of municipal entities, [and] All Home. … All of [them have] been working together as best they can, but it still has not unified responsibility with resources, with authority.”

Running parallel to this added layer of process is One Table—a 75-member group of stakeholders convened by Durkan, Constantine, and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus back in December with the task of developing a regional homelessness response that addresses the “root causes of homelessness.” According to members of the task force, the group is not working on the governance issues that the memorandum intends to address.

One Table’s recommendations were slated to be rolled out in early May, but the date was pushed back by county officials who want to wait to see how the Seattle City Council’s proposed tax on big businesses, which could fund affordable housing, will play out.

At the press conference, Constantine said that One Table’s discussions are ongoing. “We are taking a few more weeks to refine our recommendations before we announce them next month.”

jkelety@soundpublishing.com

More in News

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo
Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Photo by Haley Ausbun. Opponent of the Energize Eastside project, Coalition of Eastside Neighborhoods for Sustainable Energy (CENSE) president Don Marsh presents to the Renton Hearing Examiner during a public hearing, Jan. 8, for the project.
Contention over Energize Eastside

PSE, the public and opponents discuss issues for 5 hours

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2020 State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Office of the Governor)
Gov. Inslee delivers State of the State Address

By Leona Vaughn, WNPA News Service OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee stood… Continue reading

REA board voted out

Union members use their power to remove leaders from office

Renton schools closed Tuesday for icy road conditions

Schools went from a two hour late start, to closed for Jan. 14

Most Read