Originally crafted by Executive Constantine and Mayor Durkan, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority will oversee policy, funding, and services for people experiencing homelessness countywide. The legislation approved by both councils includes an Interlocal Agreement between the city and the county that signals unprecedented collaboration between the two governments and the members of King County’s other cities represented through the Sound Cities Association. 

“We have created a new regional authority that will repair the fractured system of governance that currently exists, improve the coordination of both services and funding countywide, center people with lived experience in our deliberations, and give us our first real opportunity to reduce the unacceptable disproportionality of homelessness among communities of color,” said Executive Constantine. “We seek not only efficiencies in collaboration, but also a homeless response system that is fair and just for all.”

“Today is a historic day. After many years of talk, today we act as a region to move forward together to provide comprehensive services using evidence-based practices and centering people with lived experience of homelessness, to bring more people inside. In 2020, we set forth on a new path to consolidate services that are too fractured and don’t serve individuals experiencing homelessness,” said Mayor Durkan. “After months of engagement and careful deliberation, we must act with urgency to address the complex challenges of forming a new agency. We know that homelessness is a regional crisis that knows no borders. Today we begin a new chapter to address our region’s most difficult challenges.”

The new authority is charged with improving and strengthening equity and social justice efforts throughout the service systems, centering its focus on the customers of homeless programs and services and persons disproportionately impacted by homelessness. People with lived experience of homelessness played a key role in the discussions around equity, and retain a significant role in the new governance structure going forward.

Services
The King County Regional Homelessness Authority will focus on unifying and coordinating the homeless response system for Seattle and King County. This will include coordination of all outreach, diversion, shelter, rapid re-housing, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing services and some of the region’s prevention efforts. Capital funding for housing construction will not be included, nor will the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team. A new Office of the Ombuds will be created to ensure customer voice is central to decision making. The new authority will be located in offices in the King County Yesler Building.

The Continuum of Care (CoC) Board mandated by the federal government is expected to join the Regional Homelessness Authority as an advisory committee. The “Coordinated Entry for All” coordinated assessment and referral to housing placements and the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) will also move to the new authority. 

Funding
King County will dedicate about $57 million in program funding and space in the Yesler Building for the new offices. The City of Seattle will invest about $75 million, which includes about $2 million in stand up funding. These totals include federal funding coordinated by the Continuum of Care. Actual funding will be subject to appropriations through the normal budget process of the respective councils.

Governance
The Interlocal Agreement will create an Implementation Board which will make recommendations as it relates to policy plans and budget. The CEO will report directly to the Implementation Board. The Governing Committee has oversight and accountability for the entity and can only make major amendments to plans and the budget with a supermajority (2/3) vote.
 
    • Implementation Board of 13 members: Three appointed individuals with lived experience and ten appointed experts from criminal justice, fiscal oversight, physical and behavioral health, affordable housing, research or evaluation, equity, business, homelessness services, labor unions/workforce, youth services, and child welfare services.
    • Governing Committee of 12 members: Executive and two King County Councilmembers including one representing a district including Seattle; Mayor and two Seattle City Councilmembers; 3 members representing the Sound Cities Association; and 3 members representing people with lived experience.
    • Chief Executive Officer, who reports to the Implementation Board and provides annual reports to City and County Councils.
    • Retains the opportunity for the Continuum of Care Board to serve as an advisory committee to the regional authority and in alignment with mandatory federal HUD requirements.

The Authority will be a unifying force, developing and adopting a new Five Year Plan to define objectives and strategies for shelter, housing, and other services that will both address homelessness today and reduce it in the future. With the strong support of the Sound Cities Association, the new organization will also develop sub-regional plans as part of the overall response plan.

With a central plan and unified vision, the Authority will be able to work with all partners –
governments, business, philanthropy, service providers, advocates and people with lived experience – to identify how best to use all contributions and resources to achieve the maximum benefit for the community.

Next Steps
Staff from both the city and the county are meeting now to plan for co-location of staff beginning in March 2020. The governing bodies will form and meet in early 2020 to begin the appointment process and the recruitment and hiring of key leadership positions for the new entity.

Today is a historic day. After many years of talk, today we act as a region to move forward together to provide comprehensive services using evidence-based practices and centering people with lived experience of homelessness, to bring more people inside. In 2020, we set forth on a new path to consolidate services that are too fractured and don’t serve individuals experiencing homelessness. After months of engagement and careful deliberation, we must act with urgency to address the complex challenges of forming a new agency. We know that homelessness is a regional crisis that knows no borders. Today we begin a new chapter to address our region’s most difficult challenges.Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle Mayor


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