May 16, 2012, Vol: 19, No: 20
The city of Seattle will no longer fund homeless services; it will invest in them.
And investors expect returns.
In exchange for receiving funding, social service agencies must comply with a new set of principles for combating homelessness created by officials at the Human Services Department.
Beginning this summer, agencies will be required to meet the new standards in order to be eligible for most of the $35 million the Human Services Department disperses. Hygiene services and day centers will have to compete for an $8 million piece of that funding.
The new program, called Communities Supporting Safe & Stable Housing, will require agencies under contract with the city to collect data for the Safe Harbors Homeless Management Information System (hmis) and work with neighboring businesses and residents to resolve concerns.
Announcing the initiative, Human Services Director Dannette Smith said she wants to better coordinate the efforts of many service providers into a single, streamlined system.
The effort also signals a shift from providing emergency services to preventative services. Smith has said she wants to prevent children in particular from becoming homeless. “When children experience homeless early in their lives, it becomes an option for life,” Smith said.
Mayor Mike McGinn said he supports the shift. At the May 11 announcement, he said the city and service providers have to change how they operate.
“This is not a time for everyone to stand back and say this will work itself out if we just get more money,” McGinn said.
Funding levels will remain unchanged until 2015.
“We are willing to keep everybody whole during this change, as long as they are able to commit to these principles,” said Catherine Lester, deputy director of the Human Services Department.
However, in 2015 the city will shift 2 percent of its funding for the homeless from intervention to prevention and stabilization.
Some of that funding would create a 24-hour shelter. Human Services is planning a comprehensive shelter that provides housing, case management and other services, but there are no details yet.
Many shelter providers met the news with dismay. share/wheel and the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness want more emergency shelter for the 2,500 people who are living on the streets now.
William Price and Lew Reeves, who live at share shelters, said the city is pushing the organization to provide wrap-around services including case management and foreign language support<< Back to Article Details