While reaffirming the commitment to creating the housing and supportive services that will make it possible to end homelessness in King County, the governing bard of the Committee to End Homelessness on Wednesday charged a regional task force to identify emergency housing options that would provide relief to those currently unsheltered.
"Our strategy remains to end homelessness through creation of long-term affordable housing while working as a community to meet the needs of those who need shelter right now," said King County Executive and board co-chair Dow Constantine.
"The recession has hurt so many in our community, the need for shelter is great and the winter weather coming gives this issue more urgency," said Dan Brettler, Chief Executive Officer of Car Toys and board co-chair. "The task force will help us identify the interim steps we can take to get people off the streets as quickly as possible."
The 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness called for 9,500 new units of housing. By the end of 2011, a total of 5,046 new housing units had been created. In addition, more than 5,000 people were helped in homeless prevention programs during 2011. Across the region are a total of 1,800 shelter beds each night, and additional beds are provided in winter shelters around the county. It is estimated, however, that more than 2,000 people each night have nowhere to sleep.
As part of a comprehensive review of the original goals and priorities of the 10-Year Plan approved in 2005, the governing board convened a task force in 2011 specifically to look at the issue of single adult shelter. The task force is chaired by human service planners from Kent, Bellevue and Seattle. Wednesday's action expands the original charge to identify immediate shelter needs among homeless single adults, strategies to respond to these needs, costs, policy options and opportunities to get people off the street as quickly as possible.
In addition to Wednesday's action, the CEH earlier this year commissioned a study of alternative models of low-income and homeless housing for developing more cost-effective housing units. Common Ground, a local nonprofit housing developer, is in the final stages of preparing that report, which will help inform decision on housing for homeless single adults.
At Wednesday's meeting, governing board members voiced support for finding solutions to emergency shelter needs as well as ensuring that creating long-term housing and supportive services remain the ultimate goal.
"Our efforts to create shelter and housing must ensure services and tools to create a path to dignity and self-sufficiency," said Renton councilman and governing board member Gregory Taylor.
-from a press release