(The Center Square) – Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is proposing more funding for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority in 2024 despite a $251 million budget deficit looming in the coming fiscal year.
Harrell’s proposed mid-biennial budget adjustments would spend $162 million on homelessness initiatives citywide.
The King County Regional Homelessness Authority would be transferred $106 million (88.5%) of the Human Services Department’s proposed $119 million in funding. Harrell’s proposed budget adjustments represent a $9 million (9%) increase to the agency over the 2023 budget of $97 million and a $6 million (6%) increase over the 2024 endorsed budget of $100 million.
The Center Square recently reported on the King County Regional Homelessness Authority winding down its pilot program that focused resources on getting homeless people in the downtown Seattle area into shelters. The program resolved six long-standing encampments and housed 230 homeless individuals.
Harrell and Constantine previously stated that they were grateful that more than 200 people received housing, but found the program had a “disappointing end result.”
A week since those comments, and Harrell is backing up the agency with more funds to continue the work of ending the homelessness crisis.
“For a truly effective and comprehensive regional approach to homelessness, the [King County Regional Homelessness Authority] must be part of the solution,” Harrell said at a Tuesday press conference. “We are committed to this, and in partnership with [King County Executive Dow] Constantine, we will continue working to strengthen the agency’s governance structure, oversight, and accountability systems.”
Harrell is also tasked with handling a projected $251 million deficit for the 2025 fiscal year. The quarter-billion dollar deficit is a result of several of the city’s revenue streams having not yet fully rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as inflation creating significant cost pressures on the city’s expenditures.
Despite this, Harrell’s budget signals that the homelessness crisis facing the city continues to need more funding in order for progress to be made.
“We appreciate the continued support and partnership of Mayor Harrell, and will keep working together with the City of Seattle to reduce unsheltered homelessness and make sure that people have the care they need,” King County Regional Homelessness Authority Senior Director of External Affairs Anne Martens told The Center Square in an email.
If the mayor’s adjustments are approved by the Seattle City Council, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority would be tasked to utilize $1 million to relocate a tiny house village so that permanent housing can be built on the current site. The agency would also use an additional $2.1 million to increase human service provider wages.
Harrell’s proposed 2024 budget will now go to the Seattle City Council for consideration and approval.