Special Edition – The Durkan Digest: A New Era in the Fight against Homelessness Starts Today

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Today marks the start of a new era in the fight against homelessness – not just for the City of Seattle, but for our entire region.  

For years, leaders in our region have talked about the need for one unified regional system that has governance, authority, and resources to address the crisis of homelessness.

So today – after months of really hard work and shared commitment – King County Executive Dow Constantine and I are both transmitting legislation to finally create that system our region needs – and that people deserve: the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

With this new step, we are taking years of talk and turning it into action.

This new entity we are creating won’t prevent everyone from falling into homelessness in the first place, and, it won’t help every person experiencing homelessness transition into a safer place.

But it’s a historic step. It will help us do more to prevent homelessness, to serve people experiencing homelessness, and to center race and social justice in everything we do.

Three-photo collage of Mayor Durkan, Colleen Echohawk and Mayor Nancy Backus speaking at Regional Governance event.

I’ve long said that truly addressing this challenge will take everyone at the table: government, business, service providers, people with lived experience, communities of faith, and so many more. We are coming together because we need to tackle this together.

In the last two years, we’ve seen more alignment in our region than ever before. 

Last year, working closely with King County, we increased our shelter capacity by 25% – the largest increase in shelter capacity in the history of Seattle. We’ve also expanded our Navigation Team to help us reach more people experiencing homelessness than ever before. And this May, the annual Point in Time count showed the first decline in homelessness in Seattle and King County since 2012.

We need to keep that progress going, and that’s why this next step to unify our regional response is so important.

True regional participation is critical to the success of this new homelessness authority. That’s why we’ve knocked down barriers that can otherwise limit participation: We have invited cities and housing authorities across King County to join us – either immediately, or at their own pace over time.

I know that sometimes people feel that government cannot come together to take new steps to tackle some of the biggest challenges – but today, we showed we can.

Three-photo collage of Mayor Durkan and Executive Constantine shaking hands, CM Sally Bagshaw and members of the lived experience coalition speaking

I will keep you updated as we continue the important work of unifying our region’s response to the crisis of homelessness and work together for a better future.

As always, please continue to write me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.

Sincerely,

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan's Signature

This blog post is an excerpt from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s weekly newsletter. If would like more content like this, and a weekly recap of the exciting things happening in the City of Seattle, you can subscribe here.