The Truth About Health Through Housing

King County recently purchased a hotel in Redmond to be converted into emergency and supportive housing units through Executive Dow Constantine’s innovative Health Through Housing initiative. By the end of 2022, King County aims to create up to 1,600 units of supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness––and all of our region stands to benefit. With affordable housing in our area out of reach for so many, providing permanent supportive housing for people most in need is a central strategy in the fight to end homelessness.

Unfortunately, there are harmful myths about the hotel purchase spreading rapidly throughout communities in Redmond and Bellevue — fueled by disinformation and misconceptions about the initiative and publicly owned housing more broadly. Fears about this purchase, however, are misplaced. In this blog post, We Are In shares seven facts about the Redmond purchase and the importance of the county’s Health Through Housing initiative.

1. Providing permanent supportive housing plays a critical role in addressing the homelessness crisis

A study out of the University of California San Francisco found that supportive housing is one of the most effective ways to permanently house people who have experienced chronic homelessness. Through a range of recovery support services, supportive housing facilities can help address some of the root causes of homelessness. For example, all Health Through Housing facilities have staff and case managers on site who connect residents to health and behavioral health services as well as assist them in finding a job, applying to school and enrolling in benefits programs. 

2. The new Health through Housing facility will likely increase surrounding property values in Redmond and Bellevue.

A NYU study found that permanent supportive housing developments tend to correlate with increasing property values in surrounding neighborhoods, in part because permanent supportive housing is one of the best tools to reduce visible homelessness by helping people move inside.

3. Affordable and public housing developments like the Redmond facility will improve overall neighborhood unity and economic stability for all residents.

Despite claims to the contrary, numerous studies have shown that the presence of affordable housing developments does not contribute to an increase in crime; in fact, the National Crime Prevention Council encourages the construction of affordable housing as a tool for decreasing crime.

4. Supportive housing is the most effective way to get tents off the streets.

Providing access to housing is our best tool to reduce visible homelessness. Further, having a roof over your head allows for a shift from a survival mindset toward long-term recovery planning, such as finding a job and permanent housing.

5. There will not be a safe-injection site at the Redmond facility.

The Redmond facility, like all Health Through Housing facilities, does not have a safe-injection site.

6. Emergency and supportive shelter for people experiencing homelessness is critical in our efforts to dismantle racism and inequity more broadly.

Today, more than 11,000 people are experiencing homelessness in the region, with people of color or of Indigenous descent overwhelmingly overrepresented, reflecting decades of racist, inequitable housing and economic policy. The Health Through Housing initiative is a critical step in changing that reality. 

7. Permanent supportive housing is critical to house people with disabilities.

According to the 2020 Point in Time Count, up to a third of people experiencing homelessness self-report having a physical disability and/or a chronic health problem, and 20% self-reported having a traumatic brain injury. People with these disabilities are heavily overrepresented in the homelessness population, and permanent supportive housing is an important way for them to get the support and care they need.

We can end homelessness in King County—and it starts with providing safe, dignified, housing and stability to those who need it. You can read more about King County’s Health Through Housing initiative at the King County website.