Homeless services funders announce system transformation

SEATTLE (Sept. 7, 2016) – With the current State of Emergency on homelessness, the City of Seattle, King County, United Way of King County and All Home announced a new level of cooperation and integration across the continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness.

The four entities have signed a funding memorandum of understanding that makes significant reforms to how homeless services contracts are administered and funded, to create an improved crisis response system with a renewed focus on exiting people from homelessness.

The changes come after two reports commissioned with national experts recommended steps to better align the region’s service delivery with national best practices to generate the most effective outcomes.  The recommendations include shifting investments to support the most effective interventions and high-performing programs by instituting performance-based contracting.

“The City of Seattle has created an action plan called Pathways Home to implement the recommendations,” said Catherine Lester, director of the City’s Human Services Department.

Pathways Home is our way toward a long-term solution to homelessness, not simply managing the problem through short-term emergency measures,” said Lester. “Developing a ‘by-name’ waiting list will allow us to actively problem-solve for people who are long-term shelter stayers or who are living outside. By reducing barriers to our shelters and providing more 24-hour shelter options, such as the City’s new navigation center, we can bring more people in off the street, properly identify their individual needs and shift them on to a stable housing situation. These steps alone will allow us to unclog our shelter system and allows us to respond to the 500 families with children known to be living outdoors tonight and move them indoors within a year’s time.”

“These reports provide us with our most thorough understanding of our regional response to homelessness,” said Mark Putnam, Director of All Home. “Together, funders and providers have created our current homeless response system, and together we can make the critical improvements necessary to get more people housed.”

“King County is already working to embrace system change, by moving to score our current homeless shelter funding applications based on program performance and client outcomes, and by championing an enhanced shelter model that combines safe shelter with access to the services that create meaningful pathways out of homelessness,” said Adrienne Quinn, Director, King County Department of Community and Human Services. “System reform guides us to greater accountability and I am confident that, working together, funders and providers can make the changes needed to serve more people and serve them more effectively.”

“When people donate to United Way, they are entrusting their hard earned dollars to get results, and to build a community where people have homes,” said Sara Levin, Vice President of Community Services at United Way of King County.  “We are excited to be to moving to a funder-driven system in a coordinated way with the City of Seattle and King County.  The performance-based metrics we have identified together were informed by this research that tells us how to quickly reduce the unsheltered population if together, we are willing to make the tough decisions required.”

The reports include a System Wide Analytics and Projection (SWAP) report commissioned jointly by the four entities and conducted by Focus Strategies, a Sacramento-based homeless system performance management firm, and a report commissioned by the City of Seattle conducted by Barbara Poppe, former executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

The full SWAP report, the signed memorandum of understanding, and additional information is available on the All Home website.

The full report by Barbara Poppe and Associates is available and the Pathways Home action plan document can be found at seattle.gov/homelessness.