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Massive Health Through Housing Measure Approved by King County Council

Summary

The King County Council has passed an implementation plan for King County’s Health through Housing program, which aims to house up to 1,600 people experiencing chronic homelessness.

Story

The King County Council has passed an implementation plan for King County’s Health through Housing program, which aims to house up to 1,600 people experiencing chronic homelessness.

Health through Housing is a regional approach to homelessness that will purchase facilities with single-occupancy units (such as hotels and nursing homes) and turn them into emergency supportive housing and permanent supportive housing. It is funded with a 0.1% sales tax that the King County Council passed in 2020.

In 2021, Health through Housing expenditures went to purchase nine properties in Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Auburn, and Federal Way. King County anticipates acquiring three additional locations. The implementation plan passed on Tuesday will govern expenditures of Health through Housing dollars from 2022 to 2028.

 The paramount goal of the implementation plan is the creation and ongoing operation of 1,600 units of affordable housing with related services for households in King County that are experiencing chronic homelessness or are at risk of experiencing chronic homelessness. In addition, it will reduce racial and ethnic disproportionality among people experiencing chronic homelessness in King County and it will create and operate a mobile behavioral health intervention.

The plan anticipates expending $333.7 million for capital financing and site improvements, $309.5 million for emergency and permanent supportive housing operations, $67.2 million for behavioral health services outside of Health through Housing sites, $3.7 million to build capacity of agencies who represent communities disproportionately experiencing chronic homelessness, and $5.5 million for evaluation and performance measurement.

It establishes the Health through Housing Advisory Committee, which will advise the Executive and Council on Health through Housing related matters, advise DCHS on Health through Housing implementation, review performance data, and report annually on the expenditures, accomplishments, and effectiveness of Health through Housing. The Advisory Committee will also collaborate with program staff and providers to establish performance measures, which will be shared publicly through an online dashboard.

The Council passed the measure unanimously.

Quotes

“Health Through Housing is a game changer and an investment in making major progress toward combating our county’s homelessness crisis,” said King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “Not only does this program show our communities we are taking thoughtful and cost-effective action, but goes beyond that by providing actual housing with dignity. A kitchen, a bathroom, a quiet and safe living space—along with supportive services—are all essential to promoting safety and support for houseless individuals as they exit out of the brutal cycle of poverty.”

 

“Health through Housing gives our region new tools to address homelessness and the economic, racial, institutional, and historic inequities that accompany it,” said King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott. “While I am proud that today’s action carries forward King County’s commitment to addressing the systemic barriers that create vast disparities in our community and a regional response to this crisis, what matters the most is that this investment will help bring 1,600 people living unsheltered today inside to a safe, warm, and secure home.”

 

“With the passage of this plan, we take another step towards implementing a real, proven strategy that will bring hundreds of our neighbors off the streets and into safe, stable housing,” said King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci. “I appreciate the regional partnerships that will make it possible for us to provide infrastructure throughout King County. Health through Housing will change lives and make our communities better.”


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