Office of Housing Accelerates Funding and Alternative Construction Methodto Support Long-term Solution to Homelessness, Which Disproportionally Impacts People of Color
Seattle (June 10, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced that the City of Seattle Office of Housing is taking bold action to create 500 new permanent supportive housing units through alternative construction, reducing significantly the costs and timeline. This initiative will leverage Seattle’s expertise in funding evidence-based housing for people experiencing homelessness while also requiring reduced cost limits and encouraging new approaches to bring homes online in record time, by fall of 2021. These new homes will be in addition to the 3,700 permanent supportive housing units currently in service and over 350 units under construction that have been awarded funding.
“The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the systemic inequities in our country and region, and over the last four months the City has prioritized funding and initiatives that help the most vulnerable in our community stay healthy. As we struggle with COVID-19 as a public health crisis, we also know that systemic racism has led to more Black, Indigenous and people of color who are experiencing chronic homelessness,” said Mayor Durkan. “With today’s announcement of 500 permanent supportive housing units, we are building on our commitment to help individuals on their path towards housing. We will bring more homes online quicker than ever before, providing a permanent housing solution for people experiencing long-term, chronic homelessness. Despite what we’ve been able to accomplish at the local level, it has never been more apparent that Seattle can’t do this alone – we need regional, state and federal investments. As the City innovates new construction, we need to build permanent supportive housing throughout King County to ensure permanent homes are provided in the communities where people become homeless and to drive down chronic homelessness throughout the region.”
The Office of Housing issued a Notice of Funding Availability inviting applications for housing serving individuals experiencing homelessness that must deliver strict cost and time savings. The funding pilot is unique in its large scale and narrow focus, and also in its express emphasis on new partnerships and approaches to project delivery, like partnerships with experienced builders, alternative construction methods or acquisition of existing market-rate buildings already under construction. The application and funding review timeline is condensed to ensure the new units will come on-line as quickly as possible. The City is committing funds from the Seattle Housing Levy to be leveraged with state and federal resources to build and operate the housing units.
“Especially during this public health emergency, we must take action to address homelessness through substantial investments in proven, long-term solutions. Through this special funding announcement, the Office of Housing will accelerate investment to deliver a record number of cost efficient apartments across the city, bringing people inside to safe, permanent supportive housing as quickly as possible.” said Emily Alvarado, Director of the Seattle Office of Housing.
“Housing is healthcare,” said Kevonya Eliza, a Registered Nurse at Neighborcare Health. “In order for us to breathe metaphorically and physically, our basic human needs must be met. As a nurse I have seen the transformative effect a safe, stable, permanent home can have on my patients who have experienced homelessness. It is even more urgent for us to ensure everyone in our community has access to permanent housing in the wake COVID-19 public health crisis.”
Historically, the City has utilized critical federal resources to support provider operations and maintenance of the buildings and supportive services for residents through Project Based Housing Choice Vouchers and the Continuum of Care Program of the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Act. The City of Seattle is joined by a coalition of philanthropic investors to recognize the importance of these federal resources to ensure these 500 homes come to fruition.