Addressing family homelessness was one of the first challenges the foundation took on. Between 2000 and 2008, our Sound Families Initiative helped build more than 1,450 transitional homes for families with children in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. As we learned more about homelessness, we determined that transitional housing wasn’t enough, and that systemic changes and more flexible social services were also needed.
Since 2008, in the same three counties, we partnered with Building Changes to improve the crisis response system with an approach that recognized families’ innate strengths, fostered collaboration, streamlined government systems, improved data, and used resources more efficiently.
We followed three proven principles to guide our work:
- Prevention and diversion, including short-term, flexible assistance tailored to each family’s needs, such as landlord mediation; help with overdue rent and utility bills; and emergency food, clothing, childcare, and transportation.
- Coordinated entry, which allows families to make just one phone call to access housing and support services.
- Rapid re-housing to place families in permanent housing as soon as possible—reducing the length of time in and higher costs of emergency and transitional shelter.
Since 2000, our foundation has invested over $175 million in building affordable housing, improving data to better understand who is homeless and for how long, creating a coordinated system to access services, supporting social service providers, and getting families into permanent housing as soon as possible.
Learn more about our work on family homelessness and the lessons learned from our February 2021 virtual event, “A Decade of Innovation: Lessons from the Puget Sound Family Homelessness Initiative.” We continue to support efforts to eradicate homelessness in our home state, learn about our on-going work by visiting our Community Engagement page.