Marc Dones, CEO for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) joined CEOtoCEO to discuss the homelessness crisis in Seattle/King County, and KCRHA's plans to help the homeless move towards stability and permanent housing.
Marc shared that the number of homeless in the region is higher than originally thought, "Significantly north of 20,000."
Marc addressed the public's perception that so much is spent on the homelessness problem and yet, we're not making traction. Marc said that historically the system has been so fragmented that it's been virtually impossible to expect results. No one has been in charge, "saying this is the direction we are moving and why". Additionally, spending has been out of proportion with what the actual problem is.
The KCRHA was created to bring all of the planning, resources, and decision making, under one roof. Marc candidly said that the KCRHA will tell the truth, the number of people who need to be served, what the budget is, and what can be done with the budget. They expect visual results where they put their focus.
The budget that the KCRHA is currently working with is $140m. It is expected to grow to nearly $200m next year with an influx of Federal Cares Act funds. The KCHRA has the entirety of the Crisis Response System in their purview including diversion, assisting with utility bills, permanent supportive housing and related services.
Marc said that we have to recognize that permanency, the solution to homelessness, is housing. Due to the housing market being so bad, it's very difficult to actually get people into housing. Marc said we need to address this and create vacancies for people to get into housing. Many people currently in encampments are waiting (outside) for space to open up.
Marc explains the make-up of the homeless population, their needs, where they are from, and how they arrived here in the region, siting federal government relocations after hurricanes such as Katrina, among other reasons.
The KCRHA recently released plans to initially work on a homelessness response in the City of Seattle's downtown core, an area where human suffering is advanced, with more people unsheltered than other areas in the region, by far.
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