Washington state lawmakers made a historic investment of $850 million in housing this session, taking aim at the growing homelessness crisis.
An effort in Seattle to get people housed could provide a good model for where to spend some of those dollars most effectively.
Chloe Gale, vice president of policy and strategy for the REACH program at Evergreen Treatment Services, said it is justifiable people are alarmed by the state’s rising rate of homelessness. She pointed to her organization’s program in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, where they connected with about 60 people.
“We spent several weeks getting to know each individual in that space and developing an individualized plan for every person there, and then we had established places for each person to go,” Gale explained. “The critical component is that we had resources that really matched the needs of the people who are living there.”
Gale noted the city of Seattle has been a critical partner in the effort, and they helped move people into tiny houses and hotel rooms with behavioral and medical staff. She said of the 60 people they met, 90% moved inside and 60% are in long-term permanent housing.
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Gale pointed out the population included a high number of people with substance abuse and mental-health issues.
“We had mental-health workers and substance-use support workers and medical providers on site who could immediately help solve and stabilize their health and their behavioral-health conditions,” Gale emphasized.
Gale indicated they have used a similar model in other communities with different needs, such as with people with mobility issues. She added communities across the state are facing similar challenges.
“If we have a formula that really has adequate spaces for people to move inside and strong relationships that identify the needs of the folks who are living there, and finally a timeline that lets us match the folks who are living there to the shelter and housing resources that we have, we know that we can move almost everybody inside,” Gale concluded.
Eric Tegethoff is a journalist covering the Northwest. Eric has worked as a reporter for KBOO, XRAY FM, and Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland, Oregon, as well as other print and digital news media. In 2012, Eric traveled to North Dakota to write about the Bakken region oil boom. He’s also worked at a movie theater, as a campaign canvasser, and quality assurance at a milk packaging factory. Eric is originally from Orlando, Florida. He graduated from the University of Florida in 2010.
The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.