In light of the Comprehensive Plan being passed, what are aspects of our current “homeless system” that are working okay, and what are those that need to be addressed or improved as we move to implement the plan?
What parts of homeless system are working OK?
- TPCCEH - level of commitment and involvement of many concerned people.
- Pierce County now has an excellent Comprehensive Plan to End Homelessness.
- Service providers collaborate well, despite being “competitors” for funding.
- People are involved due to passion which is critical to this work.
- Collaborations, e.g., Homeless Coalition (emergency response to inclement weather & summits/group advocacy).
- Also, safe parking network (SS4A), rise center co-working space, Re-entry network efforts. Hotels purchases & other non-congregate options
- Kudos to the rental assistance/eviction prevention program, but awareness of the funds from that being state and federal and not sustainable.
- Encourage Coalition to continue conversations with city and town governmental entities to develop better understanding of the issues of homelessness and build commitment to local support for regional authority.
- Having homeless diversion strategies available to provide quicker housing solutions to lower-barrier folks, using their own strengths with a little bit of system help.
- Empowering "by and for" organizations to provide Coordinated Entry/Diversion to over-represented, underserved populations.
- Talked about how very dynamic and widespread the Pierce County homeless response system is currently and the importance of first documenting and keeping current all the services/resources available, listing 1) scope of their work 2) where the orgs. or individuals work 3) what is their capacity. We recognize this type of work is already being done with, for example, outreach teams and shelter managers. Keep building and documenting the spokes in the very big wheel of homelessness response.
What needs improvement?
- Improve capacity: Need more shelter and more housing
- Need more emergency shelters and housing that individuals in need feel comfortable going to.
- Honoring existing street relationships and community by allowing people to move with chosen family.
- Meeting needs that people needing care prioritize (relationships, pets, belongings).
- RV parking is a priority need.
- Need more wraparound services to support people and prevent homelessness
- Speed up drawing-board to opening date for projects that address ending street homelessness.
- Increase housing supply. “Pierce County once again saw home prices leap upward nearly 21 percent in October over the previous year, with inventory still abysmal at less than a month’s worth on the market. TNT, 11/8/21” Mostly higher priced apartments are being built, but some affordable units are included in these.
- More focus on developing attainable housing (housing that meets the needs of those with incomes between 80% and 120% of AMI). Must be a strong part of regional authority’s attention.
- Change law to allow ADU units to become separately sellable.
- More transparency on how we compute and track the number of unhoused people, relative to our goal of Functional Zero.
Increased emphasis on prevention
- Prevention services focused on people becoming homeless. Move the problem-solving process upstream to include people who are doubled up or at high risk.
- How do we direct people to, support and promote existing prevention options like Tacoma Tenants Union that are working to keep people from becoming homeless?
More coordination of and better access to resources and resource information
- Building staff capacity and resilience within street and encampment outreach teams; a HEAL team for the entire county.
- Strengthen peer navigator/case worker ability to help individuals deal with the interagency silos that may repeatedly ask the same information.
- Need to eat the elephant one bite at a time: focus on one aspect of the plan at each meeting (specifics of where our combined efforts can have most impact).
- Would be helpful to have a list of every org, what services they can offer, and how to refer folks to that org.
- Need a “realtime system” to connect paid and volunteer outreach workers to available resources. Much outreach occurs when agencies are closed.
- Tools to better connect and collaborate between agencies, such as a way to share more comprehensive client case notes within a shared system like HMIS.
- Need more distribution and storage sites where community members can both coordinate community donations and help stock emergency distribution hubs.
More specialized care and respite alternatives
- Better care for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness
- Need respite center or skilled specialized nursing facility. Hospitals are refusing treatment to unhoused and discharging people in need of care to the street.
Better incorporation of those with lived experience
- If you listen, the community has the answers. Respect and dignity must be included and understand how to meet community needs.
- Additional resources and skills building needed for folks to navigate changes. Multiple housing options are important when looking at long-range planning.
- As we move forward, we need to ensure that we hear from those with lived experience and don’t create spaces people aren’t going to go to.
- We can’t expect folks to come in our system and “follow the rules.” We need folks to participate with the system on terms that we agree upon together.
- Would be great to see a monetary program for people with lived experience that leads to employment opportunities.
- More emphasis on safety for people who are unhoused
- Fewer “long-term” solutions
- Tacoma/Lakewood/Puyallup should come together to the table for funding
- Incarceration/homelessness cycle still going strong
- Keep homeless camps clean. Some communities can’t see past the garbage to the people, so let's eliminate this barrier and fund consistent garbage pick-up! Could be a job training type program for those transitioning out of the criminal justice system.
- Little support for communities impacted by encampments = increased othering.