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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
May 6, 2011

King County collaboration to end homelessness named one of Top 25 “Innovations in American Government” by Kennedy School of Government

Funders Group of Committee to End Homelessness cited for multi-jurisdictional streamlining of funding and coordination of housing and supportive services

A unique collaboration of key funders of homelessness housing and supportive services that sets regional priorities and coordinates support has been named one of the Top 25 "Innovations in American Government" by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's prestigious Kennedy School of Government.

"For three years we've brought together the leading funders of housing and homeless services in this region to set our collective priorities, pool our resources, and achieve greater efficiencies in our shared work," said King County Executive Dow Constantine, co-chair of the Governing Board of the Committee to End Homelessness. "Recognition by the Kennedy School of Government affirms that we are on the right track in the ongoing effort to prevent and end homelessness in King County."

The Funders Group of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County was chosen for recognition from a pool of more than 500 applicants.

Prior to creation of the Funders Group, support for housing and homeless services was fragmented, with complicated and extensive application requirements and processes. Thanks to the collaboration of multiple funders in one joint process, housing developers and nonprofits can apply for capital, operational and services funding at one time through one application. The Funders Group also establishes system-wide priorities and work plans as well as evaluation and reporting mechanisms, for greater impact.

"United Way of King County is all about making the smartest possible investment to achieve the greatest effect," said Jon Fine, President and CEO of United Way of King County. "It is that thinking that led us to support a Combined Funders Group, and we are pleased with the progress being made in housing the most vulnerable people in our community."

The Funders Group was created in 2008 and its members include the department directors and executive directors from King County, the City of Seattle, United Way of King County, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, King County Housing Authority, Seattle Housing Authority, Building Changes and representation from the suburban cities.

The group is chaired by Jackie MacLean, director of the King County Department of Community and Human Services. As a group, members identify and establish funding priorities for each year and collaborate on an annual joint Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for housing and supportive service awards. The 2010 Combined NOFA totaled $55 million from seven funders and 22 different fund sources. NOFA funding awards are typically announced in December.

"Only when the partners unite can you truly have systems change," said Bill Block, Project Director for the Committee to End Homelessness. "The Funders Group is unique in that the key partners have come together voluntarily to provide the leadership and collaboration to set shared goals and shared priorities that make system change across the region possible."

The "Innovations in American Government Awards" was created by the Ford Foundation in 1985 and has since recognized more than 400 government programs. The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard works to advance excellence and innovation in governance and public policy. The Top 25 Innovations represent the best in creative problem solving of local, state, and federal municipalities around the country.

The Ash Center will select five finalists and one winner of the Innovations in American Government Award to announce in the fall.

For more information about the Funders Group, the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, or the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, please contact Bill Block, Project Director, at 206-263-9001.