After many months of planning and collaboration, We Are In is proud to have announced Partnership for Zero, a robust public-private effort that will dramatically reduce unsheltered homelessness in King County, starting in Downtown Seattle and the Chinatown/International District.
To learn more about Partnership for Zero, please join us Thursday, March 10th at 4pm for our Partnership for Zero Community Briefing, featuring Felicia Salcedo, Executive Director of We Are In, and Marc Dones, CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. This briefing will be the first of many opportunities to remain engaged, involved, and informed.
King County Executive Dow Constantine: “King County is excited to join leaders from across the public and private sectors to work together to tackle the homelessness crisis, help those who are suffering, and put our region back together,” said King County Executive Constantine. “I am looking forward to seeing this initiative take hold, and to working with the Regional Authority and our partners to meet and ultimately end this crisis. Unsheltered homelessness in inhumane, unacceptable, and must be solved, here in Downtown Seattle, and across our region.”
Mayor of Seattle Bruce Harrell: “By uniting government and philanthropic, business, and civic organizations and leaders – not just to marshal resources – but to substantively act on our shared values and commitment to change, Partnership for Zero represents real collaboration and a vital step in addressing the homelessness crisis. The work ahead is by no means easy, but this is the kind of cooperation envisioned in the creation of the Regional Homelessness Authority and in my calls for public-private-philanthropic teamwork. Helping people experiencing homelessness get off the streets of downtown Seattle and into housing with services is an essential priority for my administration; Partnership for Zero is a bold plan of action to make progress possible – and permanent.”
Marc Dones, CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority: “Solving homelessness, especially chronic homelessness, is not an easy task; the problems we are trying to solve reached this level because of years of inattention and underfunding. It requires time and focus to do it right — peoples’ lives depend on it — and this partnership is designed to work in a different way than what has been done before. Our “public-private partnership” is more than just an infusion of private dollars –– it’s about recognizing that homelessness is a whole of community issue that requires a whole of community response. This is about bringing our entire community together, centering the voices of people with lived experience, and moving away from analysis and towards action.”
Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis: “This innovative new initiative from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority centralizes the leadership of lived experience and partnership with the public and private sectors to make long overdue progress on homelessness Downtown.”
Seattle City Councilmember Sara Nelson: “We’ve heard clearly that our neighbors, both housed and unhoused, have been frustrated with previous efforts and are ready to do what it takes to make a difference that is clear, caring, and effective. Together with KCRHA, we will use best practices and take the time to do this right.”
Former Governor Christine Gregoire, CEO of Challenge Seattle: “Public-private partnerships are how we led the nation during COVID-19, and together, we must embark upon a new partnership to address chronic homelessness. With a plan based on proven strategies by the Regional Homelessness Authority paired with new investments for emergency housing and services at the state level, we can make progress on this complex crisis.”
PHILANTHROPY AND NONPROFIT LEADERS
Connie Ballmer, Co-Founder of Ballmer Group Philanthropy, lead funder of Partnership for Zero: “The King County Regional Homelessness Authority is an incredible asset to our region, helping to design a stronger, more coordinated county-wide response to a humanitarian crisis. We and the philanthropic community are pleased to be able to provide bridge funding to support the Authority to quickly launch Partnership for Zero, a proven approach to substantially reduce homelessness.”
LaMont Green, Chair of the Washington State Lived Experience Coalition: “With Partnership for Zero, we are building a homeless response system that is co-architected by those most impacted. This human-centered approach to homelessness treats people experiencing homelessness as people, meets them where they are, and gets them the resources they need. By coming together to build a more empathetic approach to homelessness, we can make a transformative difference for our communities that leans into our vision for a racially and socially just King County.”
Derrick Belgarde, Executive Director of Chief Seattle Club: “We Are In and KCRHA are taking an important step forward, one that many providers like Chief Seattle Club have been advocating for since this crisis began. Paying individuals with lived experiences a living wage in our region has been difficult with the stigmatization of currently and formerly homeless individuals. We are excited that this partnership is modeling a new industry standard, and we hope that this step influences all funders and policy makers to follow-suit.”
Sonya Campion, President of the Campion Foundation: “As a region, we must apply what makes us a dynamic community – our innovation, big visions, hunger for equity, and an all-hands-on deck approach – to solving the unacceptable crisis of homelessness. We can and will do this. Partnership for Zero is an unprecedented collaboration between government, philanthropy, business, nonprofits, and people with lived experience of homelessness. Together, we will create a response system that works. I encourage everyone to join us.”
Sheri Schultz, Co-Founder of the Schultz Family Foundation: “Chronic homelessness is a crisis in our community that can only be solved if we all come together. Government, businesses, philanthropy, service providers and every day citizens must adopt an emergency mindset to address the urgent needs of our unhoused neighbors. Everyone deserves access to critical services. No one should have to sleep outside. If we want our city to change, it’s time to take action.”
Jane Broom, Senior Director of Microsoft Philanthropies: “Partnership for Zero is a critical step for our region to address the homelessness crisis as the emergency that it is. Microsoft has been working alongside the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and We Are In to support this collective effort. This is our region’s opportunity to ensure that everyone in our community has not just a roof over their head, but a place they can call home.”
Amy Carter, Community Engagement Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation: “Every person deserves a place to call home and build their life. This new Partnership offers the people, resources, and solutions needed to make this a reality for the people of King County. We join this effort with optimism about what’s possible when we take action against homelessness together.”
Dennis Quirin, Executive Director of the Raikes Foundation: “Partnership for Zero is about seeing the humanity—the pain, the suffering, but also the spirit and potential—of our unhoused neighbors. This unprecedented coalition, led by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, We Are In, and, most importantly, people with lived experience with homelessness, represents a different path forward for our community and an opportunity for real change. We’re taking brave steps together to make our community one where everyone has a safe place to call home.”
Gordon McHenry, Jr., President & CEO of United Way of King County: “Housing is a basic human need and right. We can’t have an equitable recovery from the pandemic without helping our most vulnerable neighbors access the housing resources they need. United Way is excited to see this collaboration from the public and private sector and eager to bring our neighbors inside.”
Michelle Seitz, Chairman and CEO of Russell Investments and Co-Chair of Challenge Seattle: “The past two years have provided unprecedented opportunities to build bridges between businesses, government, and the communities we serve. Washington has been Russell Investments’ home for 85 years. We live here, we work here, we raise our families here, and we want a healthy community for all. Working side-by-side with the Partnership for Zero coalition, I believe we can create a better future for everyone and help lift up those who so desperately need our help.”
Camille Hymes, Vice President of Community Impact, Starbucks: “For 50 years, Starbucks has worked with our neighbors and partners (employees) in Seattle to strengthen and uplift our hometown community. Chronic homelessness is the most pressing issue facing our community today, and we’re proud to be a part of Partnership for Zero through the We Are In coalition to advance solutions that address this major issue and help eliminate chronic homelessness in King County.”
Alice Shobe, Global Director of Amazon in the Community: “Amazon is pleased to support Partnership for Zero as it works to bring together local government, non-profit organizations, and businesses to continue to address the homeless crisis with urgency and compassion.”
Erik Nordstrom, Chief Executive Officer of Nordstrom: “It has long been our aim to support the communities where we serve. We have been proud to call Seattle our home for more than 120 years and believe that all residents deserve a safe and stable place to reside.”
Margaret Meister, CEO, Symetra Financial: “Homelessness and a lack of affordable housing are a crisis in nearly every major city in America. As an organization and We Are In member, Symetra wholeheartedly supports policies and initiatives that help provide individuals and families with safe, affordable places to live while addressing the variety of root cause barriers that contribute to chronic homelessness. The Partnership for Zero offers all of us, working together, a meaningful opportunity to take a critical step forward on defining issue for our region.”
Rachel Smith, President & CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce: “The Seattle Metro Chamber welcomes this important turning point in our region’s approach to helping people experiencing homelessness come inside. Led by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority and We Are In, Partnership for Zero demonstrates how our region can listen to the experts, focus and coordinate resources, and develop infrastructure that urgently addresses unsheltered homelessness. It is a demonstration of something we have known for a long time –– when we work in coalition and in common purpose, we can make real change. I’m proud to see the historic investment from business and philanthropy that has made it possible for our region to take this innovative, unified approach today.”
Jon Scholes, President & CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association: “In Seattle, we get the best results when the private and public sectors work together. There’s no bigger issue in our city today than the crisis of homelessness, and the greatest concentration of people experiencing homelessness is downtown,” said Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Jon Scholes. “This partnership will ensure the King County Regional Homelessness Authority has the resources needed to bring 800 individuals living un-housed in downtown off the streets and connect them to critical services. Not every community can come together like this and we’re grateful the Seattle business and philanthropic community is rising to the challenge in partnership with the city and county. This plan and strategy can be a game changer in how we address homelessness in the heart of Seattle.”
- Alaska Airlines
- Ballmer Group
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Boeing Commercial Airplanes
- Campion Foundation
- Expedia Group
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- JP Morgan Chase, Pacific Northwest
- Kaiser Permanente Washington
- Madrona Venture Group
- Microsoft Philanthropies
- Puget Sound Energy
- Raikes Foundation
- Russell Investments
- Schultz Family Foundation
- Seattle Foundation
- Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
- Zillow Group
It is evident –– here in King County and across the country –– that the solution to homelessness is housing. There simply are not enough apartments, townhomes, or houses that regular people can afford. Rents keep going up, and people are paying more and more for housing as a percentage of income.
Nationally, we are short nearly seven million units of affordable housing; in King County, we are short nearly 160,000 additional affordable units right now, with a total of 244,000 additional units needed by 2040. Our region is an attractive place to live and work, but housing stock has not kept pace with population increases, job creation, and wage growth, driving up prices to the point of unaffordability. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, two full-time minimum wage jobs won’t cover the fair market rent for a two bedroom apartment in Washington. That means people like waitstaff, childcare providers, delivery drivers, grocery clerks, warehouse stockers and airport workers are struggling to make ends meet.
For years, policy-makers have disproportionately invested in short-term solutions to homelessness, such as congregate shelters and tiny wooden huts, stopgaps and band-aids that were meant to be temporary but tend to become permanent. That habit is not sustainable and perpetuates the cycles and harms of homelessness. Instead, we should be building community by helping people who have been marginalized move into safe and stable housing. The stability of having a place to call home is proven to increase engagement with supportive services — stability means people have a chance to breathe so they can address health needs, substance use, and job training — and reduce the chances of returning to homelessness.
To solve homelessness, we must prioritize investments in stable, permanent housing options that are not segregated or redlined away but are woven into the fabric of our thriving, inclusive communities. Our neighborhoods can and should reflect our shared values.
With an increased investment that prioritizes housing in the short term, we can save significant costs in the long term by reducing the strain on things like emergency room care, law enforcement, and by maximizing the potential of our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
The question then becomes, where is the funding going to come from for additional affordable housing units and how do we ensure that the funding is spent swiftly, effectively, and equitably?
Earlier this week, I hosted A Conversation on Homelessness and Housing with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, State Rep. Nicole Macri, and King County Executive Dow Constantine where we discussed what homelessness and housing funds exist or will soon be available to the King County community and the steps necessary to ensure equitable, sustainable, and impactful implementation.
Congresswoman Jayapal highlighted the urgency of passing the Build Back Better Act, which as it is written, constitutes the largest federal investment in housing in the history of our country. Build Back Better would not only invest in much needed repairs and improvements to the existing public and affordable housing stock, but also incentivize the development of new affordable housing. Congresswoman Jayapal emphasized the importance of federal, state, and local officials working together with service partners and advocates to ensure that these federal investments reach our communities. While Build Back Better’s passage is now in doubt, Rep. Jayapal was optimistic that important pieces of the legislation can still become law during this Congress.
King County Executive Dow Constantine and state Rep. Nicole Macri provided updates on progress at the local and state level to get vulnerable residents into housing, including the acquisition of the 10th Health Through Housing site and proposed legislation such as HB 1866 that would invest in more supportive housing while also expanding the capacity of providers.
All three of our speakers reminded us of the importance of our continued advocacy. It is critical that we tell our elected officials at all levels to prioritize investments in housing. You can join We Are In and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance in asking our state legislators to invest in ending and preventing housing instability. You can also join the House Washington coalition in calling on state leaders to make homelessness and affordable housing a top priority this legislative session.
You can watch our full conversation below.
Join We Are In on Monday, January 24, 2022 from 4:00 – 5:00pm for A Conversation On Housing in King County with Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, King County Executive Dow Constantine, state Rep. Nicole Macri, and We Are In Founding Director Felicia Salcedo.
It is evident –– both in King County and across the country –– that the solution to homelessness is housing. The question then becomes, where is the funding going to come from for additional affordable housing units and how do we ensure that the funding is spent swiftly, effectively, and equitably? We are excited to discuss these questions and more with our guest speakers representing national, state, and local government, and for the opportunity to learn more about what homelessness and housing funds exist or will soon be available to the King County community and the steps necessary to ensure impactful implementation.
Register to join our virtual conversation HERE.
If you would like to submit a question for We Are In’s guest speakers, you can do so HERE.
We look forward to seeing you there!
On January 10th, 2022, the Washington State Legislature will begin its new Legislative session. There, elected leaders will decide the fate of the remaining federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and other increased state revenue. It’s critical that they allocate a significant portion of the upcoming budget to fight homelessness. That’s where we need you to take action.
These past few years have taught us a lot about managing during a crisis and one thing is clear – when we work together, we can solve major problems. With 2021 in the rearview mirror, we can make 2022 a year where we come together as a community to help our unhoused neighbors find homes and end homelessness in King County.
While communities have been working to address and solve the issue for many years, the pandemic has caused considerable increases in homelessness and housing instability. With the support of all Washingtonians, including our local elected officials, we can help our unhoused neighbors with the supports and services they need.
SIGN OUR PETITION HERE.