February 2021 Newsletter: Preventing family homelessness

For over a decade, our Family Homelessness Initiative has been working to reduce and prevent homelessness among families with children in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, by improving the data, coordination, flexibility and effectiveness of the county crisis response systems.

Earlier this month, we marked the accomplishments of our partners with a virtual convening for service providers, funders, elected officials and policy-makers from across the state and nation, wrapping up “A Decade of Innovation: Lessons from the Puget Sound Family Homelessness Initiative.”

We found that county crisis response systems are significantly improved — real time data is now available for decision-making, and families that become homeless are spending less time in the system and are less likely to reenter it once housed. But, we also found that the number of people becoming homeless is increasing due to larger societal issues — like the lack of affordable housing — that our initiative was not designed to address.

Two of the most important lessons to come out of the initiative are the impact of race and racism on access to housing and services, and the fundamental need to change housing market conditions — including multi-family zoning — so that young families can make rent. A new book on the subject, Homelessness is a Housing Problem, is due out early next year from University of Washington Professor Gregg Colburn.

To catch up on key takeaways from the convening, check out hashtag #FHI2021 on Twitter, follow us on Twitter @GatesWA, and flip through our short report on lessons learned.

Thank you for your partnership,
Your Gates Washington State team

Follow us on Twitter: @GatesWA.

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