Seattle—Community representatives from King, Pierce and Spokane County gathered together for the launch of a 100-Day Challenge—a growing national movement to prevent and end youth homelessness. A Way Home Washington, in partnership with Rapid Results Institute have rallied King, Pierce, and Spokane Counties to join other cities that have successfully undergone similar challenges such as Austin, Cleveland, and Los Angeles. The two-day huddle of community leaders, stakeholders, philanthropists, and young adults provided an opportunity for each county to work individually and collectively to identify innovative and accelerated ways each community can rapidly house young people in 100 days starting on April 20.
Catherine Lester, Director of the City of Seattle Human Services Department joined A Way Home Washington Executive Director Jim Theofelis during the launch to express how urgent and important this challenge will be to better serve the youth of Washington State.
“I want to recognize the young people who are depending on us to be focused, to be bold and urgent, and to be their partners in making sure that the experience of homelessness is rare, brief and one-time”, said Lester. “For me, this Challenge is about making sure that we do everything within our power to support every young person in reaching their full potential. And we know that having a safe and stable place to live is one of the most important and foundational parts of reaching one’s potential.”
Communities in the King County Region will focus on accelerating housing placements for young people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, especially among LGBTQ youth and youth of color. Focus will also be given to reducing the number of unsheltered young people across King County.
The Pierce County Region will focus on diverting young people from the criminal justice system and homelessness prevention to significantly reduce the number of young people experiencing homelessness.
Challenge participants in Spokane County aim to ensure that young people that have been involved with systems such as foster care, treatment facilities and juvenile justice are able to exit to safe places to live, instead of falling into homelessness.
In Washington state, more than 13,000 young people ages 12 to 24 years lack a safe and stable place to call home. Earlier this year, the City of Seattle surveyed 1,000 people living unsheltered. This Homeless Needs Assessment found that one-in-three persons surveyed were under the age of 30, and many of the respondents had had prior experience with the child welfare system. The 100 Day Challenge supports the Human Services Department’s commitment to meeting the emergency needs of youth and young adults, helping them exit street life, secure long-term stable housing, and develop academic and job skills that lead to self-sufficiency.
“The City of Seattle is doing some amazing things to address homelessness.” said Lester. “And by building on what we have accomplished, we can and must strive to do even more. “
100-Day Challenge Washington will receive financial support from the Raikes Foundation and Schultz Family Foundation—two philanthropic supporters of ending youth homelessness. Rapid Results Institute (RRI) will provide coaching support to all counties, and facilitate workshops at the beginning and end of the 100-day period.