Homelessness is Solvable

One of Campion Advocacy Fund’s goals is to eradicate homelessness, starting first at home in King County, then spreading across Washington state. We are dedicated to this mission and continue to use our voice and influence to support and fund programs to get unhoused people, including young people and families, into safe and affordable housing.

In greater Seattle (and in many cities across the country) there has been endless debate over who is “responsible” for the homelessness “problem.” The all-too-easy default is for folks to throw up their hands—fingers pointed anywhere but at themselves—and declare the whole thing “a mess.”

I’m tired of this. It’s simply not true.

Here in King County, we are at ground zero of one of the most innovative approaches to solving homelessness in the country. The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) brought together two major resources, King County and the City of Seattle, into one cohesive agency working toward to solve homelessness in our region. They support a Housing First model and so does Campion—because it works.

“Housing First” is a commonsense approach that pairs housing and services. In the Housing First approach, we move folks into supportive housing and then provide wraparound services depending on individual need. While Housing First has been around for many years, there are still many people that believe in and operate housing models that typically require folks be sober, have unwelcoming children or pet policies, adhere to certain religious doctrines, or have strict requirements difficult for traumatized people to manage.

When people are drowning, we first need to get them to safety and then figure out why they were sinking. The Housing First approach is working in Houston—they have housed 28,000 people by getting them into safe housing first and then making sure they have the services they need to be stable.

But there is hope.

In the Puget Sound region, KCRHA is successfully using state dollars from the Right of Way program to safely move people living in encampments by state freeways and roadways into safe housing. This partnership between the state and the KCRHA has helped 292 people move out of homelessness from encampments in the University District, Chinatown/International District, and Northgate.

This is the Housing First model in action—KCHRA is breaking the old systems and building anew. And they aren’t doing this alone. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and King County Executive Dow Constantine are committed to KCRHA and continued innovation. Their vocal leadership, along with our many public, private, and philanthropic partners, will help us create the healthy, integrated community we envision.

We know the eyes of the country are on us—and we are gazing right back with confidence.

It is going to take patience, compassion, awareness, and investment to bring homeless to a functional zero in King County. We must work to bring new partnerships to the table—ones that bridge people with lived experience of housing instability, business, government, service providers, and philanthropy. Everyone needs to own their part of the solution and bring others along; this is how we build a productive community where everyone has access to housing. To learn more and better understand the multifaceted policies being discussed, I encourage you to follow KCRHA communications.

We can do this. I trust our community.