Regional homelessness authority approved by King County, Seattle

The authority will consolidate crisis response and services into one entity.

A regional homelessness authority was approved Monday, Dec. 16, after the Seattle City Council voted in favor of creating the agency. Once signed by executives from Seattle and King County and implemented, the new agency will consolidate homelessness crisis response services into a single entity.

The approval didn’t come without debate. Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González cast the single dissent in a 5-1 vote, citing concerns which were echoed by several speakers at the Dec. 16 meeting about the inter-local agreement (ILA).

“I still believe that there are significant flaws in this version of the ILA that have not been addressed,” she said.

The “flaws” included concerns that the agreement foreclosed new regional revenue sources, that it was too easy for politicians to overturn budget recommendations and that there was no requirement for agencies who could receive funding to follow evidence-based practices.

She asked for a letter from King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the county council reiterating their support for following the guiding principals of the agreement. The executives signed onto a letter, but county councilmembers had not, she said.

King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles said Monday afternoon that she hadn’t received a formal request for such a letter.

“I never saw a draft of a letter, it was news to me when she said that,” Kohl-Welles said.

The agreement as approved by both councils and will need to be signed by the mayor and executive. Following signatures, a governing board and implementation board will be selected. The 12-member governing board’s seats will be equally split between representatives of the county, Seattle, the Sound Cities Association and people with lived experience with homelessness.

Mary’s Place director Marty Hartman addressed the city council and supported the agreement.

“Change is hard, this plan is not perfect, but it’s a first step we hope that this regional authority will bring all resources together to improve effectiveness and efficiency,” Hartman said.

Other speakers, including Building Changes director D’Artagnan Caliman, said a previous version supported by the city would have allowed better power-sharing between elected officials, experts and people with lived experiences.

A previous version proposed by the city council would have required a minimum of eight members of the governing board to approve budgets, the CEO and other major actions. As passed, only a nine-member quorum is needed for meetings to take place, and only six members are needed to approve decisions.

The authority will be funded with $73 million from Seattle and $55 million from the county each year. However, Seattle can withhold funding if the city council believes the authority is not performing to its standards, said city councilmember Mike O’Brien.

Kohl-Welles said ultimately the county voted on a version which had a chance to be approved by the county council.

“That’s what we could get through, so it was really a matter of going ahead with the language that was supported by the council members and unanimously by the Regional Policy Committee the week before that, or nothing,” she said. “… That’s what we could get through.”

González said during Monday’s meeting that she was worried politics had already taken hold in what is supposed to be a non-political agency.

The agency will pool resources, staff and response from Seattle and the county into a single entity which will handle homelessness crisis response. It will incorporate existing county programs like All Home into the new agency. Fragmentation in response and services has been blamed as one of the contributors to a stuttered response to homelessness in the county.

More in News

Enumclaw mayor elected to Sound Cities Association board of directors

Jan Molinaro now represents the cities of Enumclaw, Black Diamond, Pacific, Algona, and Milton in the county-wide organization.

Enumclaw, White River pushing school levies

EHS wants to renew its tech levy, while WRHS’ levy is the same one that voters declined in the last general election.

Enumclaw, Black Diamond police blotter | Jan. 1 – 9

Unauthorized stickers removed, women threatened at a party, and a suspicious package delivery.

St. Elizabeth nurses sign new contract with CHI Franciscan

The new agreement helps ensure safe staffing levels and increases in pay.

Enumclaw’s stormwater rate increased

Other utility rates — garbage, water, natural gas — are holding steady.

In November 2019, Washington voters approved Initiative 976, which calls for $30 car tabs. Sound Publishing file photo
Republicans try to guarantee $30 car tabs amid court hangup

Lawmakers sponsor companion bills in the House and Senate.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Plenty of road projects on Enumclaw’s 2020 calendar

Many busy streets will have least a little work done on them, so start planning your alternate routes now.

Gov. Jay Inslee delivered his 2020 State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 14. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Office of the Governor)
Gov. Inslee delivers State of the State Address

By Leona Vaughn, WNPA News Service OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee stood… Continue reading

Most Read