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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


A King County initiative prevented more than 4,000 people from becoming homeless in its first year

Summary

The first initiative funded by Best Starts for Kids prevented more than 4,000 people – including 2,400 children and teenagers – from becoming homeless in its first year. Researchers at MIT and Notre Dame are now studying King County's approach as a potential model for effective homelessness prevention.

Story

Nineteen percent of households didn't need financial assistance to resolve their crisis.

Nineteen percent of households didn't need financial assistance to resolve their crisis.

Flexible funds provide individual solutions to young people and families facing homelessness.

Flexible funds provide individual solutions to young people and families facing homelessness.

Ninety-four percent of households stayed housed.

Ninety-four percent of households stayed housed.

The latest results of an initiative launched by Executive Dow Constantine show it prevented more than 4,000 people in King County from becoming homeless in its first year. It is the first initiative funded by the voter-approved Best Starts for Kids levy.

Unlike the traditional approach that exclusively offers rental and utility assistance to prevent evictions, King County provides case managers who can address the underlying causes of homelessness and offers them the flexibility to address a client’s unique needs. In nearly 20 percent of the cases, case managers were able to prevent a client from becoming homeless without having to provide financial assistance.

Researchers at MIT and Notre Dame are now studying King County’s initiative to determine if it could serve as a national model for homelessness prevention.

“The first Best Starts for Kids initiative is making a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, and families throughout King County,” said Executive Constantine. “Together with our partners, we have prevented thousands of our neighbors from experiencing homelessness – an approach less expensive than shelter and one that increases the number of children who reach adulthood ready to thrive."

The Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative helped 4,270 clients who were at imminent risk of becoming homeless in 2017. That included 2,431 clients who were younger than 18. The latest report shows that 94 percent of former clients still had housing.

The median cost per client was $1,300, far less than it typically costs to provide emergency shelter and help transitioning out of homelessness. Nineteen percent of clients ended up not needing financial assistance because case managers were able to help them in other ways, such as negotiating with a landlord to prevent an eviction or connecting them with other services.

The initial data also shows King County is achieving its goal of engaging young people and families of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the homelessness crisis.

Promoting healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities

This is the first initiative funded by Best Starts for Kids, a six-year levy that will generate nearly $400 million for effective prevention and early intervention initiatives that promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities.

For the first year of the homelessness prevention initiative, King County awarded $4.1 million to 25 nonprofit organizations to provide prevention services to residents between the ages of 12 and 24, and families who have children and are at imminent risk of homelessness. The county-funded case managers also receive extensive training. King County will invest a total of $19 million in the homelessness prevention initiative over the course of the Best Starts for Kids levy.

Executive Constantine launched several other initiatives funded by Best Starts for Kids in 2017, and brought other effective programs to scale:


Relevant links


Quotes

The first Best Starts for Kids initiative is making a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, and families throughout King County. Together with our partners, we have prevented thousands of our neighbors from experiencing homelessness – an approach less expensive than shelter and one that increases the number of children who reach adulthood ready to thrive.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography