These were just a few of the headlines following the recent launch of the first Best Starts for Kids strategy. The event was hosted by Mother Africa–one of the 27 funded agencies to implement the homelessness prevention approach.
“King County announces grants in fight against homelessness” – The Seattle Times and
“First Best Starts For Kids Strategy To Prevent Homelessness“- The Seattle Medium
The initiative will help families that are on the verge of being homeless by addressing their specific needs, such as clothes for a job interview or help with the first month’s rent. The individualized approach is based on a highly successful pilot project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The $19 million investment to prevent homelessness is starting now with $4 million awarded to 27 community-based nonprofit organizations that successfully competed for levy funds. Read the full press release here.
“We are ready to deliver on the commitment I made to the people of King County that we will help put every child and youth in our region on a path toward lifelong success,” said Executive Constantine. “The very first prevention strategy funded by Best Starts for Kids will ensure that more children and families have a safe, healthy and warm place to live, following through on our promise to invest in what works.”
A successful model that focuses on the individual needs of families
In the pilot project that the initiative is modeled after, 96 percent of participants still had housing 18 months after they entered the program.
Unlike the traditional approach that provides a limited number of options that may or may not be helpful, this initiative starts with case managers asking, “What is it you need to avoid becoming homeless?”
One example from the pilot project was a woman who moved to King County from Russia who was an experienced seamstress. By helping her purchase a sewing machine, the program helped her earn a higher income so she could continue to pay for her family’s rent.
Preventing homelessness is less expensive than providing emergency shelter. It also prevents children from experiencing the trauma of homelessness, which can negatively impact brain development.