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Seattle to pull $11.7M in annual funding from regional homelessness authority

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(The Center Square) – The City of Seattle will soon pull back $11.7 million in annual funding from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, adding to the agency’s growing list of setbacks.

Tanya Kim, director of the Seattle Human Services Department, wrote a memo to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority announcing that it will transfer oversight of all city-funded homelessness prevention contracts totaling approximately $4.2 million in annual funds.

On top of that, the city will also transfer oversight of all outreach funding totaling $7.5 million in annual funds starting in 2025.

Kim said that transferring homelessness prevention oversight funds back to the Human Services Department aligns Seattle with King County, where prevention efforts have remained in its human services department and not with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority since 2022.

As for outreach funding, Kim wrote in the memo to the agency on Feb. 16 that the pulled funding is an effort “to carefully examine how outreach investments align to the evolving needs of the city and ensure effective use of city funding in meeting desired outcomes.”

“We’ve been made aware of the upcoming changes to the city’s funding of KCRHA,” a King County Regional Homelessness Authority spokesperson told The Center Square in an email. “We’re working to understand likely impacts on our provider community, unhoused neighbors, and how we address the homelessness crisis in King County.

During Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s State of the City address on Tuesday, he mentioned that the agency has taken steps forward, but there “have also been bumps along the road.” Harrell added that in 2024, the city will drive needed changes to improve oversight and accountability as part of a fix to address the city’s homelessness issue.

Harrell is not the only city official to call out the agency for inefficiencies. When around 70 refugee families went to Seattle City Hall last month to call for housing aid as they faced homelessness, Seattle City Councilmember Cathy Moore said that the city can’t simply write a check to pay for short-term housing or open up shelters. Moore called out the King County Regional Homelessness Authority during the council meeting.

“We don’t have the ability to address this issue – this is an issue that the [King County Regional Homelessness Authority] was created to address and I don’t know where they are at,” Moore said at the city council meeting on Jan. 30.

Seattle is dedicating $165.9 million to responding to homelessness in 2024, with $109.3 million being allocated to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

Kim’s memo to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority stated that the human services department remains committed to the partnership with the agency, despite the planned funding pull.