Building Partnerships to Reverse Seattle’s Homelessness Crisis


Homelessness continues to be a crisis in Seattle, with an estimated 3,000 people living unsheltered every night, and Paul G. Allen is committed to doing something about it.

Last week he gave $1 million to the Compass Housing Alliance to quickly build modular homes for the homeless. Thursday, he is giving another $1 million, this time to YouthCare, and $75,000 to the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). These new grants are aimed at providing both immediate support and putting in place some measures designed to prevent vulnerable people from becoming homeless.

Allen is committed to building partnerships with private and public organizations to identify and deploy systemic innovations that support Mayor Murray and the City of Seattle’s efforts to address homelessness. The mayor has provided the kind of leadership Seattle needs to grapple with the crisis:

“Last November, I declared a state of emergency to respond to the homelessness crisis in Seattle. I’m delighted to see Paul Allen respond to this crisis by supporting these innovative organizations who are working to make a positive and significant impact in our community,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “A strong partnership between the public sector, non-profits and philanthropists like Paul has great potential to generate innovative solutions to this complex problem.”

YouthCare provides youth experiencing homelessness with a continuum of care that helps them transition from the streets to self-sufficiency. YouthCare provides the only emergency shelter facility for minors in Seattle, and are respected and valued for their expertise in providing onsite services to develop life skills, provide access to counseling, family reunification, education support and employment training. Allen’s support will allow YouthCare to move their Adolescent Emergency Shelter into a newly remodeled 6,302 sq. ft. building on .6 acres of land in North Seattle. The building will include private bedrooms, outdoor space, a large commercial kitchen, improved medication storage, and private spaces for youth and caretakers to better support differing levels of crisis and care. Research shows that a significant number of homeless adults experienced homelessness when they were young, so it is critical that we specifically address youth homelessness in order to prevent and end the cycle of chronic homelessness.

LIHI develops, owns and operates housing for the benefit of low-income, homeless and formerly homeless people in Washington State. In 2015, the organization operated sanctioned homeless encampments in Seattle neighborhoods including Ballard, Interbay and Rainier Valley/Othello Village, along with a tiny-house village in the Central District. LIHI manages over 1,800 units of affordable low-income housing, which often takes people out of cold, wet and unsafe tents. With support from Allen, LIHI will develop new tiny houses for Othello Village and add a plumbing installation for showers and bathrooms that can be transported between encampment sites. These new houses will serve an additional 100 residents over time. LIHI also provides a variety of supportive services to help residents maintain their housing and self-sufficiency, including case management, life skills training, technology access and training, financial literacy and savings programs, and activities for over 500 children living in LIHI housing – case managers have shepherded 57 people into permanent and transitional housing and over 40 people have secured employment.

As Allen has said before, there is no single solution to ending this crisis and we continue to explore and identify fresh approaches to this challenge. We are grateful for Mayor Murray’s leadership, and look forward to continuing to work with him and city officials, and other organizations to address the homeless crisis facing Seattle citizens.