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City’s Homeless Response Investments Are Housing More People

Human Services Department Releases 2018 First Quarter Results from Investments

Today, the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) released the results of its homelessness funding for the first quarter (Q1) of 2018. There were 3,030 households who moved into permanent housing or maintained their housing through city investments in homeless services system in Q1 2018. This is an increase of 1,241 households over Q1 2017. In 2018, the department has a budget of $71 million to oversee more than 155 contracts with 39 agencies throughout the city who provide services for people experiencing homelessness.


“We are working with agencies every day to oversee the city’s public investments to help people experiencing homelessness. We compile quarterly data to help us understand how our investments are performing as part of a system of support for people.” said HSD Interim Director Jason Johnson. “We’re encouraged by the increases in placing people in housing and in the investments to enhance shelters with more services.”


Moving people into housing (exits to housing) and/or keeping them from becoming homeless is the primary measure of success for programs that received funding through HSD’s 2018 funding process.


Highlights of Q1 2018 Results


  • 3,030 households were housed through city investments;
  • Housing programs are moving people to permanent housing at an increased rate over 2017; and
  • Both enhanced shelters and housing programs that include supportive services such as case management help more people move into housing.


 The Homeless Services System

 Seattle invests in three primary categories for homeless services: prevention (keeping people housed), emergency (shelters and connection to housing), and housing (permanent housing that may or may not include subsidy and support services). Together, these create the homeless services system. (click here to view homeless services system definitions).


Housing Programs are Moving People to Permanent Housing at Increased Rates Over 2017

All housing programs increased the rate at which they are moving households into housing or helping them maintain housing over Q1 2017. (click here for descriptions of these programs).

  • Diversion: The Diversion housing program, which primarily helps people avoid the emergency shelter system, moved 19% more people into housing over Q1 2017 and had a success rate of 80.5%. In 2018, HSD increased funding for Diversion programs to $2 million from $1 million in 2017.


  • Rapid Rehousing: This national best-practice of short-term rental assistance until people can assume their own housing costs, moved 10% more people to permanent housing over Q1 2017, and had a success rate of 83% in Q1 2018. In 2018, HSD increased funding for this program to $7.2 million from $4.3 million in 2017.


  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH): The most effective housing program for chronically homeless people, PSH offers ongoing housing subsidy and support services. Because these units are so heavily subsidized, there is has a success rate of 99% in helping people maintain their housing or leave supportive housing to move to other kinds of permanent housing. The success rate in Q1 2017 was 98%. HSD increased investment in permanent supportive housing from $9.3 million to $13.2 million in 2018 in order to help people who need ongoing assistance from falling into homelessness.


Enhanced Shelters Help Five Times More People Move to Permanent Housing


Enhanced shelters, which provide such services as extended hours and case management with social workers, connect people with permanent housing at five times the rate of basic mat shelters.


Enhanced Shelters have increased their rate of moving people into permanent housing by 3.7 % over the first quarter of 2017. Basic shelters have an exit rate of 3.8% to permanent housing in Q1 2018, while enhanced shelters have a success rate of 20.5%.


In 2018, HSD supports 1773 shelter beds, 67% of which provide enhanced services.


City-permitted Villages provide tiny house structures and amenities for unsheltered people. Seattle supports seven villages, which provide spaces for more than 300 people per night. The City’s Villages are at capacity every night and have supported 17% of households in finding housing in the first quarter, a slight decrease of 1% over Q1 2017. However, HSD has been the investing in the management of these Villages to include enhanced services like case management in 2018 and should see this number increase in the year ahead.


“More and more people are experiencing housing instability in our rapidly growing region and their needs outpace the City’s homelessness prevention, emergency and housing services capacity. Continued focus on improving access to supportive services in shelters, villages and housing programs, while also focusing regionally on creating more housing is key to helping people exit the homeless services system permanently,” said Johnson.


HSD will continue to monitor the homeless response agencies it funds and drive towards results. Specifically, HSD is interested in improving the rate of exits to permanent housing for prevention projects, which decreased from a 94% rate of keeping people housed in 2017 to an 89% in Q1 2018. “HSD is working with several new programs that were ramping up in the first part of 2018, so we are looking for that area to improve,” said Johnson. Additionally, programs have 90 days to offer support through prevention programs, so clients who were successful at the end of the first quarter won’t be captured in the data until the second quarter.




NOTE: The City-funded agencies’ first quarter results will be combined with King County’s and made available on the All Home King County website by June 11th, 2018.