Seattle's 'Pathway Home' Initiative Seeks Housing First Strategy for Homeless

'Housing first' has become a policy buzzword of sorts to describe an approach to homeless services. A pair of new reports on the homelessness situation in Seattle finds consensus on the need for a housing first policy.

1 minute read

September 11, 2016, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Seattle Homeless

Wonderlane / Flickr

Bryan Cohen reports: "Amid the hundreds of pages of data heavy, jargon-laden new reports on Seattle’s homeless crisis, there is a consensus that the city needs to dramatically shift how it spends some $50 million in annual homeless prevention funding to a so-called 'housing first' strategy."

The reports grew out of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's Pathway Home initiative, which would "focus on housing people before providing additional services" and "[call] for the city to prioritize services towards those who have been homeless the longest, improve rapid re-housing programs to get recently homeless people into available market-rate housing, and require service providers to use a common database to better connect people to housing."

The first of the two reports, by consultant Barbra Popp, "recommends the city divest in certain transitional housing programs in favor of housing first programs while required service providers to take a more data driven, accountability-focused approach to moving people into housing." The second report, by California-based firm Focus Strategies, performed an audit of sorts on the city's current homeless services.

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