A decade of innovation

Lessons learned from the Puget Sound Family Homelessness Initiative
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A Decade of Innovation

From 2008 to 2020, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the Puget Sound Family Homelessness System Initiative (“FHI”), a $100 million effort to reduce family homelessness in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties in Washington State. The initiative’s ultimate goal was to cut family homelessness in half by helping the homelessness crisis-response systems in those counties increase their capacity to move families into permanent housing. The initiative was led by Seattle-based non-profit Building Changes, which worked closely with local governments and non-profit service providers to test new practices and implement others that were proving successful in other parts of the country. National research firm Westat conducted a comprehensive longitudinal evaluation of the implementation and outcomes of the initiative, including a comparison between two cohorts of families, one that entered the system before the initiative started and one that entered several years after implementation had begun.

Westat’s evaluation reports are available separately. This white paper serves as a companion to those evaluations, drawing mainly upon interviews with those responsible for implementation to identify key lessons learned. It also includes an overview of Westat’s family impact evaluation findings and of county data compiled by Building Changes.

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Everyone should have access to the opportunities they need to design the future they want. That core belief drives the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s work around the world and in our home state of Washington, where we work at the local, regional, and state level.

Local Data and Outcomes Dashboards

Drawing on statewide data analyzed in Schoolhouse Washington’s Students Experiencing Homelessness report, the Local Data and Outcomes Dashboard enables users to view student homelessness data specific to individual school districts, legislative districts, and counties.