Presentation Minutes

Facing Pierce County Homelessness: Creating HomeFULLness

  • Larry Seaquist, League of Women Voters,
  • Cynthia Stewart and I have worked with people across the County to see if we can contribute to where the county is going with the homeless crisis.
  • Saturday, April 28th, the Facing Pierce County Homelessness: Creating HomeFULLness. (sign up at )
  • Homelessness is increasing in Pierce County.  Goal last fall with all the partners was to have a strategy to house everyone that needs housing so we can begin to make those numbers go down.  Introducing 4 questions for folks to answer.  The questions ask, if you were in charge, what would you do to design a strategy that would begin to make homelessness in Pierce County go down. 
  • A strategy is not a hope or ambition, it is how you use the resources you have to overcome opposition to get something done.  We have some housing stock, but our real resource is the people in this room.
  • This is a growing crisis.  Not just literal homelessness, but the Superintendent of Public Instruction indicated that the Washington state total youth homeless count is at an all-time high for the 9th year in a row. (kind of an interesting website with more info on homelessness and public k-12 schools at -ed.)
  • I discovered footnote 12 – in the continuum of care 2012 agreement – between the City of Tacoma, Pierce County and the City of Lakewood.  The footnote states that, after 1 year of centralized intake, the overwhelming number of qualified prevention calls dwarfs the available resources, so Pierce County will no longer serve folks at risk of homelessness.  The goal was narrowed to Diversion and Rapid Rehousing, not Homeless Prevention.   Collective impact ideas are important to changing this decision. 
  • Prevention - Is it time to add prevention back?  We want housing first programs like Permanent Supportive Housing, Rapid Rehousing, etc.  But, it is clear we need a strategy to allow us to do prevention.  Is that appropriate?  Is it time to add that back?  How would we do that?
  • Data Driven - Set a goal, but how do you measure.  Gerrit generates data based on what is in coordinated entry.  However, no one can see day by day, hour by hour, what is happening.  We want to be able to respond to a dynamic need with a dynamic solution.  We need data that all of us can see, that the homeless can see.  We are all fascinated by Mark Zuckerberg and his congressional stuff.  Facebook can tell a woman she is pregnant before she knows it herself – based on her on-line behavior.  There are things we can do with data – we need to figure out how to better use our data. 
  • We need a Consortium to manage homeless response.  Earlier James mentioned coordination.  What you do here is remarkable.  But, you don’t touch the whole county.  We would like to get everyone coordinating like you.  Give your agencies more control to run things.  I would think that you all could collectively control the budgets, so that if you knew the goals and the data, you could adjust the resources to respond to current need.  Cynthia has proposed a new consortium or contract arrangement to move where everyone is engaged – not just the County and the City.  Non-profits and churches could be part of the collective.  We could have a consortium, agencies could sign up, and then have a voting right,
  • Neutralize opponents - Who really are the opponents.  The opponent isn’t that housing prices are going up – that is climate.  Maybe the opponents are the owners.  Who is it that is really opposed to the idea of reducing homelessness.  Who makes money because there are homeless people.  Identify those groups, so we have a strategy to block and counter or defuse their opposition. 
  • Brian – Landlords don’t want homelessness, they want money.  Regulatory change giving clients more rights is needed. Larry – we could Write a legislative agenda for next fall. 
  • Theresa – Larry, you have an amazingly concise way of framing a problem. 
  • Cynthia – want to add that part of the event on the 28th is to collect input from everyone.  When you register, you’ll get a feedback opportunity to respond to these 4 questions (listed below). 
  • Greg – on the opposition – don’t want to make opposition into enemies.  If they aren’t aligned with our work, we can too easily deaminize them.  Need to talk about problems, not persons.  Some of us do work from the goodness of our hearts.  A big part of opposition comes from ignorance.  Many folks have serious misconceptions about homelessness.  I didn’t realized barriers to independence without jumping in and learning.  If we can get the community there, it will be valuable.  I am doing everything I can to get the message out.  Need to get information out quickly along the different channels.  Larry – important not to turn someone nervous about homelessness into an enemy.  We do have enough hostility in the world. 
  • Richard – along those lines, working with Noah at TRM, working with their homelessness 101 projects where they education churches.  Larry - Having folks who are homeless advocate is powerful.
  • Larry – want to coalesce around a strategy to reduce the homeless count
  • James- this is a great opportunity to invite non-traditional partners (James word for opposition –ed.).  In Puyallup we looked for who are the most vocal complaints.  Then we went and met with them to walk through their concerns.  Listened to community concerns through a trauma informed process (just like with our clients).  Outcome was both groups understanding their challenges. 
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