Building Changes is supporting four new grant projects designed to improve services for families experiencing homelessness—and enhance their prospects for becoming housed. The projects fall under our decade-long Family Homelessness Initiative, which leverages private dollars behind efforts to strengthen the homeless systems in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
Giving all families a chance to become housed through Diversion
Diversion is a strategy to help families identify safe and immediate housing options based on their own available resources, not those of the homeless system. Our two-year project aims to help King County take Diversion to scale as the initial strategy all families explore before being referred to deeper and costlier housing interventions. Our past work in Diversion demonstrates that the strategy is effective in helping some families resolve their homelessness quickly, simply, safely and inexpensively. The project will pay for Diversion training for the approximately 300 staff throughout the county who initially meet with families seeking homeless services. It also establishes a financial assistance fund that providers can access to help ease a family’s transition out of homelessness, such as to offset the one-time costs of initial rent or a security deposit.
Grant recipient: King County Department of Community and Human Services
Grant amount: $395,250
Staying in touch with families seeking homeless services
The homeless system sometimes has a hard time tracking down families after they initially have sought homeless services. Our two-year project creates a mobile “family navigation team” of three full-time staff tasked with staying in contact with the families that are scheduled to receive housing services within 60 days of their initial contact with the system. These are the families the system deems to have the greatest need for housing services, including those living in vehicles, tents or on the streets. King County estimates that about 30 percent of these families have no link to the homeless system beyond the initial contact that was made. Without an ongoing connection, the system can lose touch with families if their situations or contact information change. As a result, some of King County’s most vulnerable families are missing out on obtaining the housing they desperately need—and are entitled to receive—simply because they cannot be found. The goal of our project is to have these families ready to move into housing as soon as it becomes available.
Grant recipient: Catholic Community Services
Grant amount: $460,000
Improving housing services to keep families safely together
The federal government provides Family Unification Program (FUP) housing vouchers to families that as a—result of their lack of adequate housing—face imminent removal of their children into foster care, or are experiencing a delay in reunifying with their children from foster care. The process currently used to select families for the vouchers is inconsistent among the different agencies that refer families in King County. Our two-year project will support refinement of the FUP voucher referral process and service program, resulting in improved services for eligible families. We are pleased that FUP-eligible families will have a direct role in informing and designing the improved process.
Grant recipients: Research and Data Analysis (an arm of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services) and nonprofits still to be selected.
Grant amount: $530,000
Improving outcomes for families in Rapid Re-Housing
Rapid Re-Housing provides a short-term rental subsidy and other support to help families experiencing homelessness obtain stable housing quickly. Building Changes supports Rapid Re-Housing models that also include employment services so that families can generate more income and maintain their housing after the subsidy expires. Our one-year project supports the launch of a Snohomish County performance improvement initiative to improve housing outcomes for families receiving Rapid Re-Housing. The county has set specific goals for the initiative, which include:
- Increasing the percentage of families that successfully obtain housing through Rapid Re-Housing to greater than 80 percent.
- Increasing the percentage of families that move into housing within 30 days after enrolling in Rapid Re-Housing to 50 percent.
Grant recipient: Snohomish County Office of Community and Homeless Services
Grant amount: $165,000