Third Door Coalition seeks to end chronic homelessness in Seattle/King County through the proven solutions of Housing First and Permanent Supportive Housing.
Permanent Supportive Housing Works
Housing First and Permanent Supportive Housing programs provide access to housing without requiring participants to use other services such as mental and physical health care, addiction treatment, education and employment options. This approach shows success in ending homelessness for even for the “hardest” to house. When people are housed, they can more easily and effectively work towards resolving issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness.
Homelessness is a crisis; chronic homelessness is its epicenter. Chronic homelessness is defined as sleeping in places not meant for human habitation or staying in emergency shelters for a year or longer—or experiencing at least four such episodes of homelessness totaling 12 months in the last three years — and also living with a disabling condition such as a chronic health problem, psychiatric or emotional condition, or physical disability.
Chronic homelessness is the most costly. Although they represent 29% of our homeless neighbors, they also generate disproportionate costs if left to live on the street, generating enormous costs in emergency services and hospitalization, as well as police, court, and probation resources, and jail time.
Chronic homelessness is increasing. The latest Point in Time Count in January 2018 revealed at least 3,552 individuals were experiencing chronic homelessness in Seattle/King County; 71% of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness were unsheltered. This number represents a 28% increase (779 people) over last year.
This subpopulation is the most visible. Chronically homeless people represent 29% of our total homeless population; however, these neighbors are the most visible. Accordingly, chronic homelessness is a lightning rod for polarized, charged debates around housing and homelessness. If we can make a difference in chronic homelessness, we can change the way people think and talk about homelessness.
In many ways, chronically homeless people are also the most vulnerable. Exposed on the street, they suffer from higher rates of poor health, mental illness, and substance abuse when compared to homeless populations generally. They are the least likely to exit homelessness without intervention.
The good news is we know how to solve chronic homelessness through the evidence-based solutions of Housing First and permanent supportive housing (PSH). Providing PSH to individuals with chronic patterns of homelessness is proven to significantly reduce use of expensive acute care services such as emergency shelters, hospital emergency rooms, and detoxification and sobering centers. As a result, PSH can lead to substantial savings. Even among the heaviest service users, it may be a cost-neutral investment, with the cost of housing subsidies and services offset by reductions in other spending for public services.
Numerous communities throughout the United States are taking note, taking action, and ending chronic homelessness. States like Utah and Hawaii, cities such as New Orleans, San Antonio, Detroit, and Tulsa, and countries like Finland, Denmark, and Canada have all made significant progress through such partnerships.
Discussions around housing and homelessness can be especially polarizing. But the Third Door Coalition seeks to move beyond polarization and make significant progress by partnering around such evidence-based solutions. To this end, the Third Door Coalition engages business leaders, researchers, advocates, and service providers around such evidence-based solutions to end chronic homelessness in Seattle/King County.
We are at a crossroads in Seattle’s history. Evidence-based partnerships that build bridges between researchers and business and civic leaders represent the greatest likelihood of success in our fight to end chronic homelessness. This end is achievable.