Seattle has long struggled with a growing homeless population, and the issue remains a central concern to city residents, communities and government leaders.
Since 2011, Seattle’s homeless population has increased by 84 percent, with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declaring a state of emergency in response to the homeless crisis in November 2015. Mayor Murray issued an Executive Order setting in motion the creation of a special 24-hour service center for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle, offering beds for guests while they are routed into housing, rehabilitation, employment and other crucial services.
We commend the efforts put forward by the city of Seattle and now, we must do more.
Born and raised in Seattle, Paul G. Allen is deeply invested in the people that live and work in the community and is committed to making a positive impact. In the past 20 years, Allen has contributed nearly a quarter billion dollars to King County initiatives. He’s committed to finding innovative and sustainable ways to foster ideas and catalyze solutions to the homelessness crisis.
Wednesday, Allen is responding to this crisis in part by partnering with and providing $1 million to the Compass Housing Alliance. Compass Housing Alliance provides responsive, essential services and affordable housing for homeless and low-income individuals at over 27 locations in the Puget Sound region. What makes this project unique is the introduction of steel modular pod units, which are easily transported and installed with minimal site preparation and expense. This type of project helps alleviate the time constraint of building affordable low-income housing, while providing a structurally stable, safe and secure alternative to living on the streets or in tent cities.
Allen's grant will enable the existing 6,000 sq. ft. parking lot adjacent to the Columbia City Church of Hope to be repurposed into a housing village with comprehensive services that will be named Compass Crossing at Columbia City. This allows for an immediate solution by providing safe and dignified places for those experiencing homelessness to reside and rehabilitate – the first step towards permanent housing. Residents will undergo a thorough intake process to address their needs and develop a housing stability plan with specific, measurable and timely goals. This pilot will be offered for three years, at which time the steel modular units may be relocated – all residents will be guaranteed housing (at the Columbia City location or another location) for as long as they need to establish permanent housing.
Allen is no stranger to tackling some of the world’s biggest problems – whether that means protecting the world’s most iconic and threatened species to altering our climate change trajectory, he knows solutions have to start somewhere. He also knows how critical it is to engage with local experts and the innovative organizations that are taking fresh approaches to this challenge. There is no single solution that will solve the homelessness crisis, but by combining our efforts with local nonprofit organizations, we are one step closer to establishing long-term solutions.