News

Reflections by Cheryl Sesnon

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that this year’s one-night tally of people experiencing homelessness in King County is up from 2016. According to All Home, the greater Seattle area’s lead agency on homelessness, a total of 11,643 people were experiencing homelessness on January 27.

Of those counted, 53% of people were in transitional housing or emergency shelters and the remaining 5,485 were sleeping on the streets, in vehicles, or encampments.

“The new All Home model is a positive step, but there is an unintended consequence…”

Skyrocketing rents make homelessness a regional challenge. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle is now $2,004 (rentjungle.com), and the overall cost of living is about 24% more expensive than the typical U.S. city, according to the Council on Economic and Community Relations. Add the fact that an individual must now earn at least $22.07 (Seattle Jobs Initiative) to meet minimum standards of living, and we can understand why Seattle is a hub for income disparity—with no end in sight.

On the good news side, the All Home model, which aims to make homelessness in King County “rare, brief and one-time,” is focusing on getting people with a long history of homelessness, severe service needs, and disabilities into housing as rapidly as possible. This is a positive step, but there is an unintended consequence: Individuals who don’t fit these priority eligibility requirements are at the very bottom of the priority list under this new model, including a significant number of “working poor” women who used to qualify for subsidized housing but will now be forced to rent at market rate.

This gap in services is the catalyst for Jubilee’s refocused efforts on better preparing homeless women to be self-sufficient in our challenging market. We are expanding our employment track programming, adding opportunities to build financial security, and exploring new ways for low-income women to access permanent housing. Watch for more information on our long-term strategic plan at jwcenter.org/news and in future newsletters.