Councilmember Clark left office on April 14, 2015.
This website is for archival purposes only, and is no longer updated.

 

Good news and bad news from the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness update



Last Friday we (the lucky councilmembers on the Council’s Housing, Human Services & Health Committee) received a briefing from Bill Block, the executive director of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, on how we’re doing after two years of working to end homelessness. Not surprisingly, we need to pick up the pace a little if we’re going to get the job done. We created 963 housing placements in new or existing units over the past two years.

That’s awesome, but Bill estimates that we need to double that pace in order to make the dent we’re trying to make in the number of people who are homeless. The big difference with the 10-Year Plan is the emphasis on “housing first” instead of shelter, then transitional housing, then, hopefully, a permanent home. The big costs are in acquisition of new units and in the combination of housing and social services necessary for many mentally ill and chemically addicted homeless people. Ideally, the front end investment we make in that tight integration of housing WITH support services saves us money later by cutting down the number of people who wash out of housing and up in emergency rooms and jails.

Two items on the bright side:

  1. In 2006, 540 homeless people were placed into jobs that paid and average of $11 an hour. Hopefully, that job is providing the steady income needed to make housing possible, not to mention simply making the new employee feel worthwhile, like he or she is going somewhere.
  2. King County is considering raising the sales tax by a tenth of a percent with the revenue dedicated to mental health services. Normally, I’d be more circumspect about a sales tax hike (it’s a regressive tax), but I’m open to anything that bolsters mental health services in our area. Too many people sleep in doorways and wander our streets because their untreated mental illness makes it impossible for them to cope. The system we have has never been adequate, especially since the “remaking” (read: federal government pull-out) of the mental health system in the 1980’s. The King County Council is expected to take action this fall.