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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Seattle and King County create new unified regional homelessness authority: evidence-based, accountable, and equitable

Summary

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today signed a ground breaking Interlocal Agreement approved by the Metropolitan King County Council, Regional Policy Committee, and the Seattle City Council creating a new King County Regional Homelessness Authority to oversee a coordinated and unified response to homelessness.

Story

Originally crafted by Executive Constantine and Mayor Durkan, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority will oversee policy, funding, and services for people experiencing homelessness countywide. The legislation approved by both councils includes an Interlocal Agreement between the city and the county that signals unprecedented collaboration between the two governments and the members of King County’s other cities represented through the Sound Cities Association. 

“We have created a new regional authority that will repair the fractured system of governance that currently exists, improve the coordination of both services and funding countywide, center people with lived experience in our deliberations, and give us our first real opportunity to reduce the unacceptable disproportionality of homelessness among communities of color,” said Executive Constantine. “We seek not only efficiencies in collaboration, but also a homeless response system that is fair and just for all.”

“Today is a historic day. After many years of talk, today we act as a region to move forward together to provide comprehensive services using evidence-based practices and centering people with lived experience of homelessness, to bring more people inside. In 2020, we set forth on a new path to consolidate services that are too fractured and don’t serve individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Mayor Durkan. “After months of engagement and careful deliberation, we must act with urgency to address the complex challenges of forming a new agency. We know that homelessness is a regional crisis that knows no borders. Today we begin a new chapter to address our region’s most difficult challenges.”

The new authority is charged with improving and strengthening equity and social justice efforts throughout the service systems, centering its focus on the customers of homeless programs and services and persons disproportionately impacted by homelessness. People with lived experience of homelessness played a key role in the discussions around equity, and retain a significant role in the new governance structure going forward.

Services
The King County Regional Homelessness Authority will focus on unifying and coordinating the homeless response system for Seattle and King County. This will include coordination of all outreach, diversion, shelter, rapid re-housing, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing services and some of the region’s prevention efforts. Capital funding for housing construction will not be included, nor will the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team. A new Office of the Ombuds will be created to ensure customer voice is central to decision making. The new authority will be located in offices in the King County Yesler Building.

The Continuum of Care (CoC) Board mandated by the federal government is expected to join the Regional Homelessness Authority as an advisory committee. The “Coordinated Entry for All” coordinated assessment and referral to housing placements and the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) will also move to the new authority. 

Funding
King County will dedicate about $57 million in program funding and space in the Yesler Building for the new offices. The City of Seattle will invest about $75 million, which includes about $2 million in stand up funding. These totals include federal funding coordinated by the Continuum of Care. Actual funding will be subject to appropriations through the normal budget process of the respective councils.

Governance
The Interlocal Agreement will create an Implementation Board which will make recommendations as it relates to policy plans and budget. The CEO will report directly to the Implementation Board. The Governing Committee has oversight and accountability for the entity and can only make major amendments to plans and the budget with a supermajority (2/3) vote.
 
    • Implementation Board of 13 members: Three appointed individuals with lived experience and ten appointed experts from criminal justice, fiscal oversight, physical and behavioral health, affordable housing, research or evaluation, equity, business, homelessness services, labor unions/workforce, youth services, and child welfare services.
    • Governing Committee of 12 members: Executive and two King County Councilmembers including one representing a district including Seattle; Mayor and two Seattle City Councilmembers; 3 members representing the Sound Cities Association; and 3 members representing people with lived experience.
    • Chief Executive Officer, who reports to the Implementation Board and provides annual reports to City and County Councils.
    • Retains the opportunity for the Continuum of Care Board to serve as an advisory committee to the regional authority and in alignment with mandatory federal HUD requirements.

The Authority will be a unifying force, developing and adopting a new Five Year Plan to define objectives and strategies for shelter, housing, and other services that will both address homelessness today and reduce it in the future. With the strong support of the Sound Cities Association, the new organization will also develop sub-regional plans as part of the overall response plan.

With a central plan and unified vision, the Authority will be able to work with all partners –
governments, business, philanthropy, service providers, advocates and people with lived experience – to identify how best to use all contributions and resources to achieve the maximum benefit for the community.

Next Steps
Staff from both the city and the county are meeting now to plan for co-location of staff beginning in March 2020. The governing bodies will form and meet in early 2020 to begin the appointment process and the recruitment and hiring of key leadership positions for the new entity.

Costantine_Durkan_Bill_Signing-1-2


Quotes

We have created a new regional authority that will repair the fractured system of governance that currently exists, improve the coordination of both services and funding countywide, center people with lived experience in our deliberations, and give us our first real opportunity to reduce the unacceptable disproportionality of homelessness among communities of color. We seek not only efficiencies in collaboration, but also a homeless response system that is fair and just for all.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Today is a historic day. After many years of talk, today we act as a region to move forward together to provide comprehensive services using evidence-based practices and centering people with lived experience of homelessness, to bring more people inside. In 2020, we set forth on a new path to consolidate services that are too fractured and don’t serve individuals experiencing homelessness. After months of engagement and careful deliberation, we must act with urgency to address the complex challenges of forming a new agency. We know that homelessness is a regional crisis that knows no borders. Today we begin a new chapter to address our region’s most difficult challenges.

Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle Mayor

I’m very heartened and gratified that we now will have the capacity to build a solid and regional alliance, informed by experts -- particularly those with lived experiences of homelessness, to finally reverse the effects of this bleak chapter in our region’s history. The signing of this legislation marks a new chapter in how we as a region respond to the crisis of homelessness by replacing our fractured systems with a consolidated regional authority that will provide cost efficiencies and effectiveness. I thank Executive Constantine and Mayor Durkan on their vision and leadership as well as my Council colleagues, Council staff, the Regional Policy Committee, the Seattle City Council, especially Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, and others who stepped up to the challenge.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Councilmember, King County Council

We are very excited to see King County and the City of Seattle come together to address the homelessness crisis in our region. This effort has been a long time coming and we look forward to seeing the experts come together to begin to address this issue collaboratively. I want to say thank you very much to King County Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Wells and Rod Dembowski who worked tirelessly to see this entity come to fruition.

Sally Bagshaw , Councilmember, Seattle City Council

I am pleased that evidence-based solutions and accountability underpin the formal Guiding Principles of this ground-breaking agreement to address the regional homelessness crisis. There is much work to be done, and with this coordinated structure, we hope to do it with increased efficiency while centering the voices of those with lived experience of homelessness.

Alex Pedersen, Councilmember, City of Seattle

I am proud that we have taken the bold step to collaborate regionally on homelessness. I applaud the leaders in Seattle and King County for being committed to sub regional planning because we will need multiple approaches in our communities.

Ed Prince, Councilmember, Renton City Council, SCA Public Issues Committee Chair

This is a new day for King County and its 39 cities in our shared responsibility to have a strong positive effort to resolve the homeless crises. While the largest homeless population is in Seattle, there is a growing and sizable number of homeless people in cities throughout the county, and resolving the challenges in Seattle and the other cities will take a collaborative effort from all of us. The new structure engages service providers and people with lived experience as partners but places responsibility where it should be — with elected officials who can and must be held accountable for the new organization’s performance. Working together, including the business and philanthropic communities, we can and will make a substantial difference in the lives of those who are experiencing homelessness. The Sound Cities Association is committed to working with Seattle and the County to make this happen.

John Stokes, Councilmember, City of Bellevue

I am pleased that by working collaboratively, King County, The City of Seattle, and Sound Cities Association have reached a historic agreement to better reduce our population of people experiencing homelessness.  Through this new entity we can focus on the individual clients and reduce the current challenges many of them face in getting the much needed services.

Angela Birney, Council President, City of Redmond

This legislation to create the new regional homelessness authority is without a doubt a momentous step forward in tackling this public, moral, and health crises in King County; however, we must be vigilant in sharing power with communities most impacted by homelessness in the design of solutions, decision making, and implementation to reduce the current inequities and truly transform the system.

Jonathan Hemphill, member, Lived Experience Coalition and Youth Action Board

We applaud the bold leadership of King County, the City of Seattle and the suburban cities for adopting a unified plan to address our region’s homelessness crisis.  The Regional Homelessness Authority creates the opportunity for consistency, efficiency and effectiveness of services for people experiencing homelessness while providing accountability back to the community.

Jane Broom Davidson, Senior Director, Microsoft Philanthropies

Chief Seattle Club is excited about the creation of the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority.  As we are well aware, American Indian and Alaskan Native residents of King County are up to 10 times more likely to experience homelessness.  We need bold and collective action if we are going to end homelessness for Chief Seattle Club’s clients and all people living homeless in our community.

Colleen Echohawk, Executive Director, Chief Seattle Club

A Regional Homelessness Authority will mean greater consistency and more coordinated responses for people experiencing homelessness.  This is an important step towards addressing the crisis so many are facing across King County.

Rachel Krinksky, Executive Director, Lifewire and co-chair of King County Alliance for Human Services

There are solutions to homelessness, and everyone needs to be working together on a single, comprehensive plan.  The creation of the new KCRHA is an important step in that process, by aligning policies and current resources of King County and Seattle more effectively, and providing a framework for the additional strategies and resources that will be needed to eliminate the suffering we see on the streets today.

Daniel Malone, Executive Director, DESC

For more information, contact:

Alex Fryer, Executive Office, 206-477-7966


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography