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About homelessness and its impact in King County

We estimate that over 40,000 people experience homelessness in King County. Thousands more likely remain outside these estimates because they avoid, or cannot access the shelter system, or stayed doubled up with friends and family to avoid the streets.

The impact of homelessness on an individual or family experiencing it is profound. While each person’s story is unique, the themes are similar – fear, stress, & a desire to still be treated with human dignity.

The impact on our broader community is also significant. The King County region has dealt with homelessness on a crisis level for nearly a decade. The human and financial costs remain staggering.

Here’s what we know – the root causes of homelessness are at the societal level and include a lack of affordable housing. Institutional racism is interconnected. As is a lack of affordable health care.

The longer people experience homelessness and have inconsistent access to medical and behavioral health care, the more their health and well-being will deteriorate. The harder it is to find restrooms, hygiene services, and clean water, the harder it is to prevent diseases.

All sectors of government and all community members have important roles in reducing the impact homelessness has on each of us. The stories of individual people overcoming homelessness and the organizations that support them give us continual optimism.

Learn more about homelessness and health:

Overview of the Health Care for the Homeless Network (HCHN)

HCHN contracts with over 15 community-based agencies to provide high-quality, low-barrier medical, dental, and behavioral health care to over 21,000 individuals and families experiencing homelessness throughout King County each year.

Our flexible model allows providers to meet people wherever they feel most comfortable and safe. Sites include encampments, shelters, day centers, transitional housing programs, permanent supportive housing programs, meal programs, and clinics. Many services are also provided on the streets by outreach teams. HCHN providers conduct over 110,000 visits at over 250 locations each year.

Our services also align with Public Health – Seattle and King County goals by promoting health among a particularly vulnerable population and by helping prevent the spread of disease. In addition to direct patient care, HCHN provides training and consultation services for homeless services agencies on a range of issues, including response to Public Health emergencies.

HCHN is part of the national Health Care for the Homeless movement that started in the 1980s through a 19-city demonstration funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trust. HCHN was part of the original 19-city cohort. In 1987, federal grant support was established for HCHN through the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. Today, we are one of over 200 Health Care for the Homeless projects nationwide.

Our governing body: The Health Care for the Homeless Governance Council

The Health Care for the Homeless Governance Council provides strategic direction and community guidance to Public Health — Seattle & King County in effectively addressing the health needs of people experiencing homelessness. The Governance Council membership allows for continuous input from a broad range of experts, including people who are currently or have previously experienced homelessness, housing and medical providers, funders, and representatives of government agencies providing services to the homeless.

Meetings of the HCHN Governance Council take place on the third Mondays of each month, 4:15-6:15pm. Meetings will take place virtually or at the King County Chinook building (401 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104). Reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities available upon advance request. Questions? Call 206-263-6975 or email Rekha Ravindran at

All meetings are open to the public and are subject to change. If you would like to be on the Council's Interested Parties Mailing List to receive an email prior to each meeting with the documents related to that meeting, or have any other questions, please email Rekha Ravindran at

Our values

Adopted by the Seattle-King County HCHN Planning Council:

  • Access to high quality care for people experiencing homelessness
  • Holistic approaches to care that integrate physical and dental health, mental health, substance use disorder services, supportive housing, and social supports
  • Improved health status and the prevention of disease among homeless people
  • Flexible, respectful service models that are tailored to the needs of people experiencing homelessness and work to link them to appropriate services and housing
  • Diversity and the effort to eliminate racial and ethnic bias in our work and in access to health care:
  • Effective relationships with organizations and systems with whom we partner
  • A community-based governance structure for HCHN that is ethical and open
  • Program staff who are committed to leadership development, customer service, and quality assurance
  • Putting ourselves out of business by advocating for the social justice that will eliminate the need for our program

Download report:

Community partner agencies and services

Health Care for the Homeless Network (HCHN) programs and services are provided through contracts with the following community organizations. Staff work in interagency, multidisciplinary teams to serve people experiencing homelessness.

  • Catholic Community Services
    • Federal Way Day Center, Kent Family Center, shelters, day centers, street outreach and transitional and permanent supportive housing sites in South King County.
    • Behavioral health services for families in shelters

  • Country Doctor Community Health Centers
    • Shelter and Tiny House village-based services for families in central Seattle (YWCA Downtown, East Cherry, and South Myrtle locations)

  • Downtown Emergency Service Center
    • Behavioral health services provided for Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Street Medicine Team.

  • Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS) – REACH Program
    • Outreach, case management, and behavioral health services provided on the streets and at over 50 sites in Seattle and South King County including The Markham Building, Ballard Homeless clinic and the ETS Methadone clinic.

  • Federal Way Black Collective
    • Connections to resources and services that provide stable and culturally reflective care to individuals and families experiencing homelessness in South King County.

  • Friends of Youth
    • Redmond Youth Services Center, shelters, day centers, transitional and permanent supportive housing sites and street outreach in East King County and other areas.

  • Harborview Medical Center

    • Pioneer Square Clinic:
      • Medical and behavioral health services for single adults in shelters and permanent supportive housing buildings
      • Street and mobile-based palliative care
      • Field-based behavioral health outreach
      • Robert Clewis Center Clinic (co-located with Needle Exchange)
      • Medical Respite Program - for people too sick to be on the streets, but not sick enough to need hospitalization, beds at Edward Thomas House
      • Third Avenue Clinic at YWCA Opportunity Place

    • University of Washington Youth Clinic

  • HealthPoint Community Health Centers
    • Shelter-based services outside Seattle including Avondale Park, Burien Hospitality House, Domestic Abuse Women's Network, Lifewire, Hopelink-Kenmore, Hopelink Place, Katherine's House (Catholic Community Services), Kent Hope Day Center, Reach Center of Hope, The Sophia Way, The Landing (Valley Cities Counseling & Consultation), Titusville Station, The Landing (Friends of Youth)

  • Lifelong
    • Outreach and case management services to strengthen the continuum of care and support clients in achieving and/or maintaining sustainable housing.

  • Neighborcare Health
    • 45th Street Youth Clinic
    • Housing Health Outreach Team – Medical and behavioral health services in permanent supportive housing buildings
    • Ballard Homeless Clinic

  • Peer Washington
    • Outreach and case management services to help people move towards stable housing and improved health. Peer Washington providers peer recovery services at several King County libraries.

    • Senior Mobile Medical Outreach services at Senior Hubs and Senior Centers designed to provide culturally relevant medical and case management services.

  • Ryther
    • Outreach and behavioral health services to youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

  • Wellspring Family Services
    • Behavioral health services and supports for children experiencing homelessness and housing instability in Wellspring’s Early Learning Center.

  • Y Social Impact Services
    • Case management services at the Arcadia Drop-in and Shelter programs in south King County for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

  • YWCA of Seattle/King/Snohomish Counties
    • Health Care Access Project - Advocates work with families experiencing homelessness to help them access health care insurance and many other services. Services provided at Hammond House, Elizabeth Gregory Home, Jubilee Women’s Center, Mary’s Place Downtown and North, Hope Place (UGM), YWCA Downtown and Willow sites.

HCHN receives support from the following organizations:

  • City of Seattle
  • King County
  • Private foundations and individual donors
  • U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

HCHN Governance Council Meeting agendas and materials

For older meeting materials, please contact us.

June 2024 meeting minutes (174 KB)

May 2024 meeting minutes (258 KB)

April 2024 meeting minutes (256 KB)