Working to ensure that homelessness stops at one-time

By United Way of King County, on November 10, 2016 | In Fighting Homelessness

It’s uncommon for homelessness to result from just one setback. People who fall into homelessness are often struggling with multiple challenges. Having a roof overhead—while safer and more secure—doesn’t always alleviate all of the problems.

People who have lived on the streets for longer than a year are among the most vulnerable. Many suffer from severe mental and physical health issues as well as drug and alcohol addictions. In addition to housing, they need on-site support to help them stay healthy and safe.

United Way investments tackle this problem head on.

What’s working?

Housing First for people in 2,241 units. Housing First – providing people who are chronically homeless with apartments and vital on-site services – continues to be a national best practice. This approach is widely recognized as more humane, cost-effective and successful than allowing people to cycle in and out of the emergency room, sobering center or jail. United Way provides services for 2,241 units of permanent supportive housing so that people get the services they need, remain housed and don’t tax our emergency service system.

Support for 290 people with co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of substance abuse or addiction can mask symptoms of mental illness, and symptoms of mental illness can be confused with symptoms of addiction. For lots of people, untangling these disorders and treating them individually often leads to full recovery and many are able to move into stable housing on their own.

What needs work?

Too many people are returning to homelessness. In 2015, 7% of people who found permanent housing, slipped back into homelessness. The goal is 5%, so we’re close, but there are still improvements to be made. Because people who have been chronically homeless have multiple challenges. They can be tough to house. A commitment to the Housing First model is a must.

Full implementation of coordinated entry will also help lower this number. People will be most successful when they’re paired with the absolute best housing solution for their situation. We will insist that all funded agencies are compliant with coordinated entry.

Read on for overall approach to ending homelessness and how this prevention work helps make sure that homelessness is rare, brief and one-time.


All comments are approved before they are posted to the site.