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2018 Homeless Exits to Permanent Housing Up 30%

The City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) released the final performance results of its homeless services programs for 2018.

City-funded programs both saw an increase of households who were served (25,420 in 2018 vs. 23,768 in 2017) and in the number of exits to permanent housing (5,627) or households who maintained their housing (1,801) through permanent supportive housing programs. There were 5,627 household exits to permanent housing alone — an increase of 30% (1,321) over the same time in 2017, and there were a total 7,428 household exits from homeless programs to permanent housing and who maintained their permanent supportive housing.

“HSD began 2018 with clear goals – invest in programs that work, connect people to housing from all points in the homeless services system, and address racial disparities, particularly for Native American/Alaskan Native and Black/African American households,” said HSD Interim Director Jason Johnson. “I am pleased that we are seeing significant progress in all three areas compared to 2017, and that HSD is managing the public’s money for improved results for people experiencing homelessness.”

Through HSD’s 2017 Homeless Investments Request for Proposals (RFP), providers estimated that they could exit 7,400 households to or maintain them in permanent supportive housing in 2018.

Highlights from 2018:

  • Enhanced shelters alone showed a 78% increase (1,520) in exits to permanent housing over 2017 (854), which aligns with the City’s shift towards enhanced shelters with housing-focused services. Enhanced shelters are safe spaces that prioritize services for permanent housing solutions and include amenities such as 24-hour support, housing navigation, showers, laundry, storage, and the availability of shelter for more than one night. The primary goal of enhanced shelter is to move people from homelessness to housing. 


  • Increased investments for supportive services in villages are exiting households to permanent housing at a rate that is 10% higher than 2017 (33% in 2018 vs 23% in 2017).
  • Investments showed an 87% increase in the number of Native American/Alaska Native households exiting homeless services programs over 2017 and a 27% increase in Black/African American households exiting homeless services programs over 2017.

Housing Programs are Moving More People to Permanent Housing In 2018

All housing programs increased the rate at which they are moving households into housing or helping them maintain housing over 2017. For a list of terms, see here.

  • Diversion: Diversion primarily helps people avoid the emergency shelter system by offering one-time financial assistance and case management. HSD saw a 5% increase in the rate of moving households out of the homeless system over 2017. (72% in 2018 vs. 67% in 2017). More than 300 service providers are being trained in offering diversion services in 2019 to consistently help prevent more people from entering the homeless system.
  • Rapid Rehousing: This is a national best-practice which combines temporary rental assistance and case management to help people eventually assume their own housing costs. RRH investments have consistently met performance standards for rate of exit to permanent housing, showing 30% more exits to permanent housing than 2017 (618 in 2018, over 476 in 2017). HSD increased investment in Rapid Rehousing programs from $4.2 million in 2017 to $7.5 million in 2018.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH): The most effective housing program for high-needs people experiencing homelessness, PSH offers ongoing housing and support services for people who need long-term assistance. Nationally, the number of people who are able to maintain their housing through PSH is counted in the “exits to permanent housing” category. PSH has a success rate of 93% in helping people maintain their housing or leave supportive housing to move to other kinds of permanent housing. HSD increased investment in permanent supportive housing from $9.3 million to $12.7 million in 2018.

More Native American/Alaska Native and Black/African American Households Connect to Housing in 2018

Native American/Alaska Native (NA/AN) and Black/African American (B/AA) households experience homelessness disproportionately to their representation in the population of King County. These households are seven times and five times more likely to experience homelessness, respectively.

In 2018, a total of 431 Native American/Alaska Native households exited homeless services programs, an increase of 87% over 2017 (230 household exits), and 2,979 Black/African American households exited homeless services programs, an increase of 27% over 2017 (2,343 household exits).

“During the 2018 funding process, HSD made addressing racial disparities a priority because Black/African American and Native American/Alaska Native communities are disproportionately likely to experience homelessness in our region. We invested in partners who could help these communities and are really pleased with this first year of results. We look forward to building on this in 2019,” said Jason Johnson.

Enhanced Supportive Services Help Drive Improved Housing Results

Following Mayor Durkan’s announcement to increase the City of Seattle’s bridge housing and shelter units by 25 percent by creating 500 safer spaces, the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department has worked with partners to bring resources online and available to people experiencing homelessness. With Seattle’s shelters operating at or near capacity on a nightly basis, new shelter meets a critical need to create more safe spaces for people sleeping unsheltered throughout the city.

The City opened a total of 516 safer spaces in 2018, including shelter spaces and tiny house villages, serving approximately 540 people experiencing homelessness through this initiative. This increase in capacity is the largest expansion of City-funded shelter and village resources in Seattle’s history.

In 2018, enhanced shelters supported nearly twice as many household exits to permanent housing (1,520 in 2018, up from 854 in 2017) as in 2017, and increased the rate of exit to permanent housing from 13% up to 21%. HSD supported 749 enhanced shelter beds in 2017 and ended 2018 with 1411 enhanced shelter beds, and in 2017 supported 964 basic shelter beds, which are just overnight mats-on-floors with minimal connection to housing, and 668 at the end of 2018.

“City-funded homeless services programs are serving about 1,600 more households in 2018 than last year, and we are consistently seeing that shelters with enhanced services are able to move households into permanent housing at a rate that is five times higher than basic shelters,” said Johnson. “The support really makes a difference helping people leave the shelter system, which also opens up space for others to come inside.”

HSD increased investment in tiny house villages in 2018 by over $2.5M, which both brought on new village locations and increased supportive services and case management at existing villages. City-permitted villages demonstrated an increase in both the rate at which households exit the program to housing (33% in 2018 vs. 23% in 2017) and the number of household exits (135 in 2018 vs. 102 in 2017).

City Implements New Accountability and Performance Measures

In 2018, HSD implemented Pay-for-Performance (PFP) on 46 programs funded through HSD’s 2017 Homeless Investments Request for Proposals (RFP) process in the areas of Enhanced Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Rapid Rehousing and Permanent Supportive Housing. Basic Shelters, Day/Hygiene Centers, Outreach and Villages do not include pay-for-performance. Performance pay in City-funded homelessness contracts is a tool the department uses to help monitor and drive improvements at the individual provider level by analyzing data and working with those providers on how to improve services.

Programs are eligible to receive performance pay if they either meet the performance standard set in the 2017 RFP or finalized a performance improvement plan (PIP) agreement they reached with the department. If a program has not completed a PIP and does not meet the performance standard, they do not receive performance pay.

Methodology for Reporting:

When HSD competitively bid the City’s homeless services dollars for 2018, the Department made a commitment to invest in programs that are focused on connecting clients to permanent housing. To track program accountability – to ensure that City-funded programs are improving in their ability to connect clients to housing – HSD reports on the number of exits to permanent housing from City-funded programs.

HSD tracks City-funded programs to actively work toward increasing the percentage of their clients that enter permanent housing. The homeless system, which is comprised of homeless services programs funded by the City, County, and other sources, is designed for individual households (regardless of number of people) to engage with one or more programs while they are on their pathway to housing. For example, one client may stay in a shelter and work with a rapid rehousing program before leaving both programs to enter permanent housing. Each of those program exits count as an exit to permanent housing, specifically because they are two different strategies that work together to achieve permanent housing. This is the metric that we base performance pay on. This is same methodology that we’ve used to measure the effectiveness of City-funded programs for the past two years.

All Home currently reports system-wide effectiveness which includes reporting the number of unduplicated households that move to permanent housing from all programs in the homeless services system, as well as the number of exits by homeless program type (shelter, rapid rehousing, etc.). All Home looks at the results from all programs within the homeless services system, not only those funded by the City of Seattle.