(The Center Square) – An annual report reveals that King County’s program to house people through 15 sites used more than $70 million to house 803 people due to incomplete construction and other issues.
The Health Through Housing initiative’s primary goal is to open 1,600 units of affordable housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming unhoused in King County. The county previously anticipated it would meet the 1,600 unit goal by the end of 2022, but fell short with 1,366 units of housing being ready to use, or under construction at the end of the year.
The initiative’s 2022 revenue totaled $68.8 million, including $67.9 million from sales tax revenue and $800,000 from interest. The Health Through Housing Initiative receives one-tenth of a cent of sales tax revenue for the purchase and operation of hotels to convert into emergency and permanent supportive housing.
Actual expenditures for the initiative in 2022 totaled approximately $70.2 million. According to the Health Through Housing 2022 Report, the slightly higher expenditures than revenues in 2022 are consistent with the approach in the initiative’s implementation plan.
In its first year of full operations, the initiative brought 803 homeless people into temporary or permanent housing in Health Through Housing units.
Out of the 803 people, 348 received permanently housing or moved on to permanent housing elsewhere with the aid of Health Through Housing resources.
The 803 people that received shelter make up 6% of the 13,369 homeless people tallied in the county’s 2022 point-in-time count.
The Health Through Housing’s 15 sites are located throughout King County, including in seven of the nine King County Council districts.
The initiative’s 2022 report found that the average per-unit acquisition cost of Health Through Housing properties is $229,314. The report notes that the cost per unit for each site varies based on the circumstances of each acquisition, as well as site development process and timing.
The site located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill District was omitted from the calculation as the full acquisition costs for this property were not incurred until 2023.
Conclusions from the report found that the initiative is proceeding slower than planned by the county.
“Converting hotels into supportive housing is a complex and time-consuming undertaking,” the Health Through Housing 2022 Report states.
Challenges listed in the report include negotiations to purchase sites and establish operational agreements, high site-specific facility needs and community engagement efforts, and COVID-era challenges.
Health Through Housing acquisitions are expected to be completed in 2024. Once that is done, the initiative will focus exclusively on opening buildings and supporting contracted providers to continuously improve onsite supportive services.