Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Affordable Housing and Alleviating Homelessness

It’s been over two years since the City of Seattle and King County declared our homeless crisis an “emergency.”  While much has been done, we are far from our goal of making homelessness rare, brief and one-time.

Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are daunting, complex issues, but I have been working to address the root causes.  As a member of the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force and One Table, I know that a good supply of affordable housing is critical but not enough.

With economic inequality, systemic racism, rising displacement and falling federal funding for low-income housing and services, addressing housing stability and reducing homelessness will require a holistic approach.

Some individuals who are experiencing homelessness may need support with challenges they experience such as substance use disorder, mental health challenges, reentry into the community post-incarceration, workforce readiness and access to health care and affordable transportation.  

Although much remains to be done, we have passed legislation and invested in alleviating homelessness.  In my first term and as a member of the Council’s Budget Leadership Team last year, I was able to get funding into our 2019-2020 Biennial Budget for modular housing, additional emergency as well as enhanced 24/7 shelter space, increased access to aid in finding housing and several affordable housing projects (including a TOD (Transportation Oriented Development) at North Seattle College).  The Budget was approved unanimously this past November. 

I will continue to concentrate on the implementation plan and governance structure of the voter-approved Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. The levy provides support to reduce homelessness and provide greater housing stability for veterans, seniors, and vulnerable communities throughout King County.

Providing these crucial services can reduce homelessness, and I am focused on making sure these programs are funded and well implemented!

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