The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) put forward goals on homelessness so ambitious they left several councilmembers skeptical of their chances of success.
HSD — the department responsible for investments meant to move homeless folks into housing — proposed spending almost $17 million to reduce unsheltered homelessness and increase the number of people exiting from the homelessness system into housing in 2018. Officials aim to cut the number of days spent in emergency shelter by more than half and get 40 percent of people served into permanent housing in 2018. They estimate 10 percent will return to homelessness.
Those targets are well above past performance. According to a central staff memo, the percentage of exits to permanent housing increased roughly 4 percentage points between 2014 and 2016 to a high of 13.6 percent. Because the number of people in the homeless system has increased since 2016, HSD hopes to get a larger percentage of a larger number into permanent housing in a single year.
Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Kshama Sawant expressed skepticism with the rosy numbers.
All Home King County, which coordinates the regional response to homelessness, aims for a 10 percent improvement year on year, Herbold said.
“We’ve been successful at doing so since 2014,” Herbold said. “That’s a little different than 40 percent exits to permanent housing when the bottleneck is the lack of accessible permanent housing.”
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Twitter @AshleyA_RC
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