RE: Homelessness

Homelessness is driven by a complex intersection of issues. We know, however, that the primary drivers contributing to the growth in the homeless population are housing instability, lack of access to services and support, and the response system’s failure to meet performance targets. On Council, I will be committed to improving housing stability, service access, and system outcomes to both prevent and reduce homelessness.

Photo by: Nick Bolton
West Seattle - Photo By Patrick Robinson

Improve Housing Stability

Improving housing stability relies on three essential components -- the presence and production of affordable housing, tenant protections, and services that prevent the loss of housing. To achieve the goals, we need a comprehensive approach that includes; housing subsidies and gap financing for lower income households, protection and production of middle-income housing and naturally occurring affordable housing, preservation of renters’ rights, high-quality of living standards for rented units, proactive tenant and landlord education programs, and instability prevention that works through community networks to achieve crisis resolution while centering the service recipients dignity, health, and safety.

Improve Service Access

Providing services means nothing if those who need them most lack access to, and a voice in, the system. By working to understand how service recipients and those in need define access, developing short-, medium-, and long term interventions, and addressing institution barriers, we can shape a system of support with the breadth and depth to truly meet people’s needs. The primary focuses of our systems of support should be; behavioral health support, housing assistance for lower-income renters and homeowners, weatherization assistance, and a system of emergency shelters, temporary housing, and permanent supportive housing that meets our City’s needs for supply, stability, and subsidy. For our shelter and housing systems, this means incentivizing and streamlining production, ensuring comprehensive, built-in services, and the expansion of grant, loan, and tax credit programs.

Phil Tavel Helping at the Mission
Homelessness - Photo By Patrick Robinson

Improve System Outcomes

In 2005, Seattle and King County launched their “10 year plan to end homelessness”. In 2015, homelessness had only worsened. This triggered a declaration that homelessness was in a state of emergency and, still, homelessness worsened. Now, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) claims, for the price of just $25.5 billion dollars, it can end homelessness in 5 years. Without looking within the system to identify deficiencies, we will look back and realize this plan for the next 5 years was not much different than that for the last 18. Without enforced standards under performance-based contracts and recurring comprehensive system analyses, we are setting ourselves up for failure. According to KCRHA’s own data, service providers are failing to meet performance targets and exits from the system are not keeping pace with entries. I am prepared to work alongside KCRHA, service providers, service recipients, and our City’s communities to develop a regional approach that does what is intended.

Tavel for Seattle 2023:

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