We all have a role to play in solving homelessness. Everybody wants a safe place to call home, but when housing is unavailable or unaffordable, and the cost of living puts basic needs out of reach, then more people fall into homelessness. The problem is solvable, and state support can accelerate progress. The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) supports investments in Housing First and other data-driven and evidence-based policies and practices that create more affordable housing, bring more people inside now, and prevent homelessness for the long-term.
Here are some priorities that KCRHA supports:
State Right of Way Safety (Encampment Resolution) Initiative
KCRHA supports Gov. Inslee’s request for $100 million to the Department of Commerce for encampment resolutions on state highways. Teams have already resolved 10 encampments on State Right of Ways, moving 335 people inside with an 89% success rate for acceptance of housing and shelter, with thanks to our partners at PDA, REACH, Lifelong, Urban League, the City of Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation, and the Washington State Patrol. Another encampment resolution is in progress and will be completed soon. With state resources for outreach, housing, non-congregate shelter, and ongoing operations of supportive services, we will be able to clean up our state highways by resolving encampments safely and sustainably, and put more people on a path to stability so they can rejoin society and rebuild their lives.
The scale of solutions must be resourced to match the scale of the problem, with investments that improve immediate response and prevent homelessness in the future. KCRHA supports increasing investments in the Housing Trust Fund, Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition Fund, and the Apple Health and Homes Fund. KCRHA also supports backfilling the lost Document Recording Fees to fund programs like rental assistance, permanent supportive housing, and project-based housing vouchers.
Workforce Stability and Fair Pay
Delivery of homelessness response services depends on our frontline workers, but these hardworking people have historically been underpaid. As a result, positions are vacant or hard to fill, safe staff-to-client ratios are more difficult to achieve, the ability to deliver services is restricted, and workers are struggling to make ends meet. A Wage Equity study by researchers at the UW School of Social Work found that workers in human services and caregiving professions are paid less than other workers, and recent King County survey found that chronic underinvestment in the nonprofit workforce is a driver for turnover. We expect a legislatively directed report on this topic from the Department of Commerce, and hope that this data will encourage the Legislature to increase investments in our frontline workers.
Thank you to our state partners
KCRHA appreciates the State’s leadership on homelessness and housing, and the historic investments made in 2023. We encourage our state partners to build on that progress with continued support for increasing affordable housing stock, a Housing First approach with supportive services attached, fair pay for workers, and other data-driven and evidence-based policies that will bring us closer to solving homelessness together so that all of our Washington communities can thrive.