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What are 3 Washington counties doing to keep families off the streets?

Evaluating a Washington State initiative to end family homelessness

The Homeless Families Systems Initiative is intended to reform homeless service systems in 3 counties in Washington State. It’s goal is to increase

  • Coordination and data-driven decisionmaking among providers to help rapid re-entry into housing
  • Links to services and economic opportunities for families experiencing homelessness

Westat will examine the role of systems change in these 3 counties in improving families’ residential stability and well-being.

  • We’re examining how systems are changing in how they identify families and either
    • Find them alternatives to entering the system, or
    • Match them to assistance to get them back into permanent housing quickly 
  • We are also examining the costs of serving a family after systems reform.
  • We are using a rich set of mixed methods, including cohort design, tracking all families for 18 months and a subset of families for 30 months.
  • All 3 systems have shifted from “one size fits all” to offering a range of housing assistance. 
  • Early findings indicate that a “housing first” approach has led to greater access. This includes access to and more days in permanent housing for families 6 months after entering the system, despite a tightening housing market.

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