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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Veterans and Human Services Levy report shows reductions in expensive criminal justice, emergency medical interventions

Summary

Providing housing and supportive services to the most vulnerable of King County’s homeless population is not only saving lives, it’s saving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, according to a new report transmitted today to the Metropolitan King County Council by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Story

Providing housing and supportive services to the most vulnerable of King County’s homeless population is not only saving lives, it’s saving hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, according to a new report transmitted today to the Metropolitan King County Council by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

“The taxpayers of King County are getting an excellent return on their investment, according to these new findings, and the credit goes to such effective programs as our innovative Client Care Coordination system, which gets the most complex clients off the street and into stable housing,” said Executive Constantine. “Ending chronic homelessness requires permanent housing combined with onsite supportive services, and the Veterans and Human Services Levy is helping us to provide both.”

The biannual report of the Veterans and Human Services Levy covering the first six months of 2011 shows significant reductions in the use of expensive criminal justice and emergency medical interventions, achieving one of the major goals of the voter-approved Levy. The report is focused on one of the Levy’s five overarching strategies: Ending Homeless through Outreach, Prevention, Permanent Supportive Housing and Employment.

Among the highlights is a summary of the High Utilizers Database Project, which developed a list of the homeless persons who were the highest users of the Dutch Shisler Sobering Support Center, jails, psychiatric hospitals, shelters and the emergency medical system. Using this list, the new, Levy-funded Client Care Coordination system prioritizes placement of these individuals into vacancies in permanent supportive housing projects.

Data was gathered on 117 vulnerable high utilizers for the six months prior to their placement into housing, and for the six months after being placed. The preliminary data findings show significant reductions:

  • Jail days declined by 65.6 percent, from 3,307 to 1,139 days.
  • Dutch Shisler Sobering Support Center days declined by 96.3 percent, from 1,471 to 55 days.  
  • Community psychiatric hospital days declined by 85.5 percent, from 242 to 35 days.  
  • Psychiatric emergency days declined by 77.8 percent, from 72 to 16 days.

An estimated $250,000 cost offset was achieved in reduced incarcerations and an additional $350,000 cost offset in hospitalizations and sobering center usage, for a combined total cost offset of approximately $600,000.

Other highlights of the report include:

  • A total of 18,473 clients were served by the Levy. The areas of highest need were South King County (41.3 percent), followed by Seattle (36.6 percent). The remaining clients served reside in East King County (12.2 percent), and North King County (8.1 percent).
  • Two programs that increase the availability of supportive services to formerly homeless people each achieved over a 92 percent success rate in keeping their clients in stable housing.
  • Over the past six years, 25 Levy-funded capital housing projects have been completed or are in progress, adding over 1,200 units of new permanent housing for low-income people.
The current Veterans and Human Services Levy expires on Dec. 31, 2011.

King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography