Seattle and King County rank in the top three areas in the country in homelessness on a per-capita basis, with more than 22,000 households and nearly 4,500 public school students experiencing homelessness in 2018 alone. And, unfortunately, homelessness has only worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has also introduced new disparities into an already fragmented system. Many people experiencing homelessness in King County have split into two camps: one where resources are now relatively rich and one which pulls residents into more extreme circumstances. When the pandemic hit, entire shelters became inaccessible, and outreach programs were shuttered – except to residents already inside. With this context in mind, King County has put a renewed emphasis on reducing homelessness, utilizing a flood of new federal resources to initiate several programs to bring people indoors.
King County must operate a synchronized, regional, and culturally competent continuum of care to facilitate faster, more robust pathways out of homelessness. King County will partner with FUSE Corps for one year to support revamping the county’s services system into one that is responsive to the needs of all residents experiencing homelessness. The FUSE Executive Fellow will review the impacts of Covid-19 on the regions continuum of care, making recommendations and create a framework for a regionally coordinated continuum of care – especially for those experiencing homelessness that were excluded from care during the pandemic and who are facing increase mental health needs. The Executive Fellow will then develop a collaborative funding model that supports operationalization of this new ideal continuum of care. This work will support King County in creating long-term institutional alignment across systems serving people experiencing homelessness, ultimately driving the county towards ending homelessness in the region.