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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


A new King County initiative prevented more than 3,000 people from becoming homeless in 2017

Summary

The first Best Starts for Kids initiative launched by Executive Constantine has prevented more than 3,000 people in 1,024 households from becoming homeless in its first year.

Story

Twenty-four percent of households didn't need financial assistance to resolve their crisis.

Twenty-four percent of households didn't need financial assistance to resolve their crisis.

Flexible funds provide individual solutions to young people and families facing homelessness.

Flexible funds provide individual solutions to young people and families facing homelessness.

Ninety-six percent of households stayed housed.

Ninety-six percent of households stayed housed.

A new initiative launched a year ago by Executive Dow Constantine has prevented more than 3,000 people in King County from becoming homeless.

Results from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30 – the latest data available – show that 96 percent of the 1,024 client households still had a place to live, which prevented the need for additional shelter beds. It also decreased the number of children who suffer the trauma that homelessness can cause, which can affect brain development.

Researchers at MIT and Notre Dame selected King County’s initiative for an academic study on the effectiveness of homelessness prevention.

“Thousands of people who faced homelessness this winter are instead living in the safety of their own homes because of the prevention initiative we launched one year ago,” said Executive Constantine. “Together with our partners, we are delivering on the promise I made to the people of King County to invest in what works, and deliver better outcomes for children, youth, and families."

Unlike the traditional approach to homelessness prevention that offers limited options for assistance, King County’s approach provides case managers with the flexibility to meet the specific needs of someone who is on the verge of homelessness. Examples include transportation or utility assistance, help finding a higher-paying job, or help understanding their legal rights as a renter.

Twenty-four percent of clients ended up not needing financial assistance because case managers were able to help them in other ways, such as negotiating with a landlord to prevent an eviction or connecting them with other services. 

The initial data also shows that King County is achieving its goal of engaging young people and families of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the homelessness crisis.

Promoting healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities

This is the first initiative funded by the voter-approved Best Starts for Kids levy, which will generate nearly $400 million for effective prevention and early intervention strategies that promote healthier, more resilient children, youth, families, and communities.

King County awarded $4.1 million to 25 community-based nonprofits – along with extensive training and rigorous evaluation – to provide prevention services during first year of the initiative. Young people between the ages of 12 and 24, and families who have children and are at imminent risk of homelessness are eligible to receive prevention services delivered by case managers. The county will invest a total of $19 million in the initiative over the course of the six-year Best Starts for Kids levy.

Executive Constantine launched several other initiatives funded by Best Starts for Kids in 2017, and brought other effective programs to scale:

King County’s Youth and Family Homelessness Prevention Initiative

King County awarded a total of $4.1 million to 25 community-based nonprofits to provide client-centered case management and flexible funds to youth ages 12 to 24 as well as families with children who are at imminent risk of homelessness in 2017. The county will invest a total of $19 million in the Youth and Family Homelessness Initiative over the course of the six-year Best Starts for Kids levy.

The following agencies successfully competed for the prevention funding.

Africatown International

Seattle

All Seattle Kids Home

Seattle

API Chaya

Seattle

Atlantic Street Center

South King County

Friends of Youth

North/East King County

Interim Community Development Association

Seattle

Iraqi Community Center of Washington

South King County

Kent Youth and Family Services

South King County

Lifewire

North/East King County

Mother Africa

South King County

Mother Nation

Seattle

Multi-Service Center - RAP in Federal Way

South King County

Nexus Youth and Families

South King County

Open Doors for Multicultural Families

South King County

Partner in Employment

South King County

POCAAN

Seattle/South King County

Refugee Women's Alliance

South King County

Riverton Park United Methodist Church

South King County

Seattle Indian Health Board

Seattle

The Arc of King County – Seattle, Kent, Auburn, Renton

Seattle/South King County

Therapeutic Health Services - CYFS

Seattle/South King County

United Indians of all Tribes Foundation

Seattle

Wellspring Family Services

Seattle/South King County

Youth Eastside Services

East King County

YouthCare

Seattle

Relevant links


Quotes

Thousands of people who faced homelessness this winter are instead living in the safety of their own homes because of the prevention initiative we launched one year ago. Together with our partners, we are delivering on the promise I made to the people of King County to invest in what works, and deliver better outcomes for children, youth, and families.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

I am quite pleased that the Youth and Family Homeless Prevention Initiative has begun to help families avoid the trauma and devastation of homelessness. While working on the Best Starts for Kids Implementation Plan with my colleagues, it was extremely important to me that the services provided be implemented with the significant racial disparities of those children, youth and families facing homelessness in mind. While we still have a great deal of work to do, it is heartening that roughly 1,000 households still have a place to call home, particularly as we enter this holiday season. No family should feel uncertain about having a home during this, or any time of year.

Larry Gossett, King County Council

For over thirty years Friends of Youth has supported youth and families experiencing homelessness. The Best Starts for Kids funding is a game changer. It gives us the opportunity to work with families and youth to maintain their housing, rather than after they have faced the devastation of homelessness. Because families and youth tell us exactly what support they need to stay housed, we can respond quickly and respectfully, reinforcing their self-efficacy and natural resilience.

Terry Pottmeyer, President & CEO, Friends of Youth

The Best Starts for Kids Youth & Family Homeless Prevention Initiative has allowed THS to add effective homeless prevention to the portfolio of services we create for vulnerable youth and their families.

Patricia Edmond-Quinn, Chief Clinical Officer, Therapeutic Health Services

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography