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The Seattle Times: Washington’s COVID-19 recovery hinges on addressing chronic homelessness

June 13, 2021

It will be no surprise to learn that chronic homelessness is surging, growing 27% statewide each year. King County has experienced an astonishing 42% increase, the second-fastest growth in the nation, despite a 21% annual increase in funding dedicated to homelessness. Clearly, we have not seen the outcomes we need. While progress has been made toward combating youth and family homelessness, existing policies and initiatives have failed to successfully address chronic homelessness. As a result, thousands of Washingtonians remain trapped in a cycle without access to key services and housing.

Meanwhile, other cities and counties have succeeded. By implementing data-backed solutions, Bakersfield, California, has achieved its functional zero goal for chronic homelessness. San Diego, a county of 1.1 million more people than King County, successfully brought its growth down to only 2%. These examples show that stopping the growth of chronic homelessness is possible through a coordinated, focused, accountable structure.