King County struggles to find solutions to get homeless people off the streets for good

Where do people with addictions and homelessness go, once they enter the healthcare system and no longer need medical care?

Kathryn Driscoll, a social worker at a Tacoma-area nursing home, has no place to stay two former homeless drug addicts now that they are too healthy to be in the nursing home.

“They are at this stage where they have progressed, and they are doing so well, that they have to take the next step. And the hope was that we would be able to partner with DSHS (Department of Human Services and health) to find them alternative accommodation,” Driscoll said on the Gee and Ursula show on KIRO NewsRadio. “But unfortunately they are too physically well to qualify for that kind of help. So we are looking at sort of the barrel back to the street, which is the cycle they’re trying to get out of.

The fight over hotel shelters for the homeless comes to Kirkland

Driscoll is currently researching programs to find stable housing for homeless citizens like the two mentioned above, as they do not have the financial means to pay rent.

“I mean, my God, I work for a living and I can’t afford to rent here,” Driscoll said. “From there, it’s also about finding them work because they both want to work. They struggle to find a job because they don’t have a home address, and they don’t have clothes to wear to an interview or reliable transportation to get there.

Marc Dones, CEO of King County Regional Homeless Authority (KCRHA), estimated that there are approximately 40,800 homeless people in the county, a number based on tracking each homeless person who uses services such as shelter, medical and behavioral health throughout their lives. an entire year.

KCRHA was established in 2019 with the goal of using data, proven practices and community feedback to design a homelessness response system that will help stem the homelessness crisis across the region.

Dones, alongside Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, recently celebrated the closure of an encampment in Woodland Park, which Dones distinguished from a traditional encampment sweep because most of the people who live there have received numerous referrals sensitization and accommodation.

KCRHA has opposed traditional sweeps since the organization launched in 2019 — a stance that puts the agency in constant tension with the city. Seattle has seen an increase in encampment moves since Harrell became mayor.

Crews prepare for ‘major’ cleanup at Green River homeless encampment

Despite efforts by the City of Seattle and King County Council to clean up encampments and give initial resources to homeless people, Jason Rantz, host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, thinks local government is still “stuck first gear,” without looking at the bigger picture to get homeless people, like the two Driscoll worked closely with, off the streets permanently.

“City and county leaders don’t have a plan to address the underlying causes of homelessness because they’re not interested in addressing addictions and untreated mental illness. They think someone is homeless because they don’t have a home,” said Jason Rantz, host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “That’s a stupid, simple thought. These people were not born homeless. We should want their underlying issues addressed and help them become self-sufficient.

“If you want to help a homeless person who has no other problems: partner with companies that offer tax incentives if they hire homeless people and create a program that helps them get to work and come back,” he continued. “Temporary vouchers for a few to several months for housing may be warranted if the person shows a commitment to getting off the streets.”

Alongside Harrell and Dones, council member Reagan Dunn launched a recent proposal to create an interagency task force to clean up the Green River encampment and connect those living there with shelter and services.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to see them again and not in a happy way where they’ve been able to move on with their lives, but I’m going to have to see them go through hospitalizations repeatedly,” Driscoll said. “And you know, each time is more complex medically, or they go back to that cycle of addiction that they both worked really hard to get out of.”

Driscoll asked to be contacted on Facebook if there were any recommendations for providing some basic services to those people who have graduated and no longer need help from nursing homes.

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