Seattle Homelessness: What We’re Doing Differently

By United Way of King County, on March 13, 2018 | In Fighting Homelessness

United Way focuses on income and housing to make the most impact on Seattle homelessness and our countywide crisis. We work side-by-side with the City of Seattle and King County to make the most of every dollar. And thanks to donor support, we’re on track or ahead of our goals for homelessness.

Income: The Jobs Connect program has grown tenfold since the pilot in spring 2016. It started with one outreach and job training provider connecting 163 people to jobs. We’re now working with 10 providers. Our goal is to employ 1,000 people this year. In the first half of the fiscal year, 546 people have found jobs.

Housing: Two years ago we introduced a pilot program, Streets to Home. It provides outreach workers with flexible funds to move people off the streets into stable housing. The pilot was successful and 584 people moved off the street.

This year, we’re reaching more people with Streets to Home. We also added services for people who require more than one-time support. In the first half of the year, we’ve already helped 821 people avoid the shelter system and move off the street.

Effectiveness in one area can improve effectiveness in another. For example, the learnings and wins from Jobs Connect and Streets to Home have informed some new aspects of our Community Resource Exchange event.

Chain Reaction: Results Lead to Event Expansion

We’re not letting those results stop there. More people caught in the Seattle homelessness crisis need these solutions. We’re always looking for proven ways to better reach and serve people experiencing homelessness.

This event is a huge gathering of volunteers (find your future homelessness volunteer role) and supports for people experiencing homelessness. These range from essentials like hygiene kits and hot meals to big-picture services like counseling, legal help and more.

Here’s what’s new, inspired by the results we’re seeing from Jobs Connect and Streets to Home:

  • Amazon and UPS will be hiring new employees during the event in the jobs area. This means if someone wants a job, they’ve just about got one right then. What a great partnership and response to such an urgent need for people experiencing homelessness!
  • Our Streets to Home partners will be connecting individuals and families to housing right then and there or getting them into the database to get housing ASAP.
  • More local partners are joining our family area to help parents. This includes help navigating the maze that is maximizing housing resources as well as signing up for day care programs, family and child counseling services, and more.

Donor dollars like yours create these opportunities for United Way. How exciting it is that we’re able to take what we learn about the Seattle homelessness crisis—what works, what doesn’t—and reach people who need help with the exact help they need.

What does United Way think of safe injection sites? Do we need more shelters? Check out this hot-topic homelessness FAQ.

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