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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive, Seattle Mayor declare emergencies, announce new investments to respond to homelessness

Summary

So far in 2015, more than 66 homeless people have died on the streets and in unpermitted encampments across King County. Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared emergencies and outlined new investments to respond to the growing crisis of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in King County and Seattle.

Story

Homeless Emergency_King County

Executive Constantine said homelessness is a human-made disaster and declared homelessness to be in a state of emergency in King County and Seattle.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared emergencies and outlined new investments to respond to the growing crisis of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in King County and Seattle. 

Executive Constantine signed a Local Proclamation of Emergency in response to the growing crisis in King County, and Mayor Murray signed a Proclamation of Civil Emergency for Seattle.

“Emergency declarations are associated with natural disasters, but the persistent and growing phenomenon of homelessnesshere and nationwideis a human-made crisis just as devastating to thousands as a flood or fire,” said Executive Constantine.

“We call on the federal and state governments to take action, including shouldering more responsibility for affordable housing, mental health treatment, and addiction services.” 

Added Mayor Murray: “Seattle is facing an emergency as a result of the growing crisis in homelessness. The City is prepared to do more as the number of people in crisis continues to rise, but our federal and state partners must also do more. Cities cannot do this alone. Addressing homelessness must be a national priority with a federal response.”

Executive Constantine proposed $2 million in investments, some of which are already pending before the King County Council, to address immediate human needs and the root causes of homelessness.

"Homelessness is an emergency," said King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who chairs the Council's Budget and Fiscal Management Committee and serves on the All Home board. "Our declaration is like that for other crisesa call to action for the County and City and our federal and state partners to come together with solutions." 

One Night Count finds more than 3,700 people homeless on the streets of Seattle

King County already invests $36 million a year to assist individuals and families at-risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Last winter’s One Night Count found more than 3,772 men, women, and children without shelter on the streets of Seattlea 21 percent increase over 2014. People are homeless, on average, about 100 days. So far in 2015, more than 66 homeless people have died on the streets and in unpermitted encampments across the county. The state now reports that 35,000 people in King County become newly homeless at some point during the year.

Mayor Murray and Seattle City Councilmembers outlined a $5.3 million package to respond to the growing demand for services. For more information, see details of the new City investments and Frequently Asked Questions. Seattle already invests more than $40 million annually to assist people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, including single adults, youth, families, domestic violence survivors, older adults, and veterans.

The Executive and Mayor cited the decades-long decline in both federal housing support and federal and state mental health and substance abuse treatment as significant contributors to the homelessness emergency. A recent study published in the Journal of Urban Affairs found that when rent increases by $100 per month, a correlating increase in homeless can be expected: 15 percent in urban areas, and 39 percent in rural and suburban areas. The study also correlated declines in safety net funding and population growth with increases in homelessness.

All Home working to make homelessness a brief, one-time occurance

In July 2015, King County, the cities of Seattle and Bellevue, Sound Cities Association, and United Way all endorsed a new 4-year homelessness strategic plan. The effort, renamed All Home, includes more than 500 stakeholderspeople experiencing homelessness, nonprofits, businesses, faith leaders, and residents. Their goals are to make homelessness in King County rare, to eliminate racial disparities, and, if one becomes homeless, to make it a brief and one-time occurrence only.  

“This act of leadership by County Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor Murray represents a significant step toward implementing the All Home Strategic Plan,” said Mark Putnam, Director of All Home. “Their joint requests of the State and Federal government are action steps toward our strategies for addressing the root causes of homelessness, and support our goal of making homelessness rare. Their commitments of local resources are action steps toward our strategies for addressing the immediate crisis of homelessness, and making it brief and only a one-time occurrence.”

Those interested in joining the effort to respond to the homelessness crisis should visit AllHome.org and review All Home’s strategic plan.


Relevant links


Quotes

Emergency declarations are associated with natural disasters, but the persistent and growing phenomenon of homelessness—here and nationwide—is a human-made crisis just as devastating to thousands as a flood or fire. We call on the federal and state governments to take action, including shouldering more responsibility for affordable housing, mental health treatment, and addiction services.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Seattle is facing an emergency as a result of the growing crisis in homelessness. The City is prepared to do more as the number of people in crisis continues to rise, but our federal and state partners must also do more. Cities cannot do this alone. Addressing homelessness must be a national priority with a federal response.

Ed Murray, Seattle Mayor

Homelessness is an emergency. Our declaration is like that for other crises—a call to action for the County and City and our federal and state partners to come together with solutions.

Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember

This act of leadership by County Executive Constantine and Seattle Mayor Murray represents a significant step toward implementing the All Home Strategic Plane. Their joint requests of the State and Federal government are action steps toward our strategies for addressing the root causes of homelessness, and support our goal of making homelessness rare. Their commitments of local resources are action steps toward our strategies for addressing the immediate crisis of homelessness, and making it brief and only a one-time occurrence.

Mark Putnum, Director, All Home

For more information, contact:

Frank Abe, 206-263-9609


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

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