A new vision for All Home King County, the county-wide body that advises on homelessness issues, would reduce the voice of people and agencies that deal directly with people experiencing homelessness.
The concept is spelled out in a series of reports completed for Seattle by Barbara Poppe and Associates and for the county and United Way of King County by Focus Strategies. Overall, they recommend a “funder-driven” approach that requires a restructuring of All Home’s 10-member executive committee and removing anyone that does not represent a funder.
Of those 10 members, only four are “funders.” The other six represent service agencies that serve people experiencing homelessness.
The new plan to combat homelessness, Pathway Home, envisions a different role for All Home, namely one active in determining policy implementation.
All Home has not decided what that means, although some options will be brought to the executive committee in October, Executive Director Mark Putnam said.
Those could include paring down the existing suite of 11 committees, a process that got started but never completed, or collapsing the coordinating board, executive committee and funders group into a single body, Putnam said.
The call to excise service providers comes in response to real concerns about conflicts of interest that could arise with All Home’s new role. Some executive committee members who would see their roles reduced, however, think that to remove service providers completely would weaken the organization.
“We are stronger when we bring a varied set of voices to the work,” said Daniel Malone, executive director of Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC). “It would be a shame to throw that away.”
Conflicts of interest can be mitigated, but removing experienced providers from those conversations means cutting off sources of innovation, he said.
Paul Lambros, executive director of Plymouth Housing, also hoped that the executive committee would stay intact and even expanded to include the Seattle Housing Authority.
“The executive committee could hold together as it is with key providers and key funders,” Lambros said. “We can add more funders to it, but that’s the committee that brings things forward. We have talent in the provider community that could be helpful.”
Several non-funder members are providers, but one brings the clients’ view.
Roger Franz is a formerly homeless man who used to live in Tent City 3 and currently sits on the All Home Executive Committee.
While he agrees with many of the recommendations that pertain to getting people indoors, he is concerned about the proposed new direction for the committee.
All Home needs a variety of opinions. To remove those voices from the executive committee seems like a mistake, he said.
“I’m inclined to disagree that the recommendation will be productive or useful in the long term,” Franz said.