Jon Fine’s guest column encourages government and private philanthropy to be data-driven and accountable as we address homelessness [“We can do better, be smarter in how we help the homeless,” Opinion, Jan. 29]. My organization agrees that data-informed decisions will help us find lasting solutions to homelessness.
Since early 2014, social-service organizations have been quietly testing new responses called diversion and rapid rehousing. The goal is to serve more families with quick and flexible interventions, and the results are encouraging. Last year, 125 King County families avoided homelessness thanks to a diversion pilot program that provides recipients the assistance they need. Families received small stipends to rent housing in the private market, or financial help such as funds for car repair so a parent can keep his or her job. The average amount spent per family was just $1,300 — compared with a price tag of $10,000 and up for shelter.
This promising local data point toward solutions we believe can work for many families. It reserves shelter for families who have no other options. We have the opportunity to scale this program and test it with other populations. It’s this kind of innovation, rooted in data-driven funding decisions that will make homelessness in King County both rare and brief.
Alice Shobe, Seattle
Executive director of Building Changes