Report finds that King County needs to spend $410 million a year to solve homeless crisis

by DCG

homeless in seattle

The result of progressive policies: The new King County/Seattle area…

king county homeless2.jpg

king county homeless

I’ve done many posts on King County/Seattle’s homeless problem and how the local governments plan to solve this issue with more taxpayer money. See the following:

The City of Seattle spent $54 million on the homeless last year. King County spent over $195 million. There are an estimated 11,643 homeless people in King County. And according to a King County Auditor’s report, “the region’s leaders fail to communicate well enough to make any progress, and affordability continues to prevent people from overcoming homelessness.”

The real solution now proposed: Taxpayers are going to have to cough up a lot more money. I guarantee you it still won’t be enough.

From Seattle TimesSeattle and King County could make the homelessness services system run like a fined-tuned machine (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA), but without dramatically increasing the region’s supply of affordable housing options, solving the region’s homelessness crisis is all but impossible.

That is the central finding of a new, independent analysis of King County’s homelessness crisis by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which produced the report pro bono for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

The report estimates King County is short up to 14,000 units affordable for people experiencing homelessness. Because of the gap, and the rising numbers of people who are homeless, annual spending — public, private or both — needs to double to $410 million if the problem is to be solved, according to the report.

And that’s only if the annual rate of people becoming homeless doesn’t increase.

“This is a supply-side issue,” said Dilip Wagle, a McKinsey senior partner based in Seattle. “We are just running out of affordable housing units.”

The startling findings come as Seattle engages in a furious public debate over the city’s proposed plan to impose a $75 million annual tax on its largest businesses — including Amazon — to pay for more affordable housing and services for the homeless.

The chamber has vigorously fought the tax, so the McKinsey report results — produced independently of the chamber — may contradict their stance.

Chamber president and CEO Marilyn Strickland said she agrees more affordable housing is needed, but argues the so-called head tax is not the answer. She added that the chamber does not feel like what McKinsey produced was their report.

“We have record revenues, we have record tax collection,” Strickland said. “If building were more of a priority, they (the City Council) should make it one and make it one now.”

But Seattle Councilmember M. Lorena González, after reading details of the report in The Seattle Times, pushed back against the chamber’s assertion that the current spending on homelessness is enough, when this analysis proves that it isn’t, she said.

“It is an untenable position that the chamber is taking to acknowledge there is an affordable housing problem while at the same time offering nothing other than a continuing chorus of no’s,” said González, who received a high-level briefing about the report a few weeks ago but was scheduled to have a meeting with McKinsey on the report details Friday.

From what she knew about the analysis so far, González said the research seemed to validate “what the advocates and the nonprofit housing developers have been telling us for quite some time now.”

McKinsey approached the chamber last fall, and produced the analysis in a matter of months. Among other findings in the report:

  • Recent improvements in King County’s homelessness-response system have resulted in more exits to housing, increasing by 35 percent between 2016 and last year. But, while helpful, that alone cannot make up for the region’s affordable housing shortage.
  • “There’s not a ton of more juice to squeeze on efficiencies in the (homeless) crisis-response system,” said Maggie Stringfellow, a McKinsey associate partner in Seattle.
  • There is a 96 percent statistical correlation between the region’s rent increases and the increase in homelessness, a finding that echoes an analysis by Zillow Research, which found those relationships strong in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C.

While McKinsey can’t say that higher rents directly cause more people to lose their homes, the two have “risen together in lockstep,” Stringfellow said.

McKinsey found the correlation between opioid deaths and homelessness to be far lower, at 34 percent — an indication that, counter to some assumptions, drug use alone isn’t driving the dramatic rise in homelessness here.

A separate, unrelated report, released Wednesday by the Seattle and King County Public Health Department, found that drug and alcohol overdoses disproportionally impacted people experiencing homelessness.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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