#SeattleforAll | Toolkit

Following are messaging and tools to support aligned communications about the issue of homelessness, and our shared path forward.


  • Share / adapt the messaging below with your networks, staff, stakeholders, friends, and family.
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Following are messaging and statistics for use in communicating about the issue of homelessness, and our shared path forward.




People experiencing homelessness are our neighbors. When we take the time to listen and hear their stories, we can begin to understand that we’re not so different.

83% of people experiencing homelessness said they were living in King County at the time they most recently became homeless.

The most commonly reported reason people find themselves homeless is due to job loss (25%).

While factors like economics, housing, mental health and substance abuse contribute to homelessness, the common denominator is poverty. These are the real causes of homelessness in our community.

People experiencing homelessness are without housing for many, and sometimes overlapping, reasons. This includes lack of healthcare, wages that aren’t keeping pace with costs of living, addiction and mental health, and a lack of affordable housing.  

Rent in Seattle has grown by 43% since 2009. According to a recent McKinsey report, there is a direct correlation between the rise in rents and the rise in homelessness.

21% of people experiencing homelssness reported lack of housing affordability as a cause of homelessness.

The most commonly reported reason people find themselves homeless is due to job loss (25%).

More than half of all people who are evicted in Seattle owe less than one month’s rent.

40% of Americans are not able to cover a $400 emergency expense.

In March 2019, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a citywide version of the Mandatory Housing Affordability program, paving the way for 6,000 new affordable homes in Seattle.

While there are many complex reasons people find themselves homeless, there are proven ways to connect people with housing and ensure they have the right support to stay housed.

In four years, housing placement rates have doubled (between 2013 and 2017).

In 2018, there were 5,627 household exits to permanent housing — an increase of 30% (1,321) over the same time in 2017.

80% of people experiencing homelessness said more affordable housing and rental assistance was key in ending their homelessness.

Homelessness among veterans was reduced by 31% from 2017 to 2018, and homelessness among children and youth under the age of 18 was reduced by 22% from 2017 to 2018.

Organizations like Seattle’s DESC are using a “housing first approach” to combat homelessness, understanding that vulnerable people can better engage in services, like addiction counseling and mental health services, once they are living in a safe and stable home.

Homelessness is a temporary experience, not a personality trait. Homelessness is not a choice.

When asked, 98% said they would move into safe and affordable housing if it were offered.

22% of those experiencing homelessness are  families with one or more children.

The most commonly reported reason people find themselves homeless is due to job loss (25%).

Homelessness is caused by a series of systemic failures. People who have had criminal justice involvement, or have been through the foster care system, are overrepresented.

We must address the root causes of homelessness -- like substance abuse, mental health, and income inequality -- but without a safe home to come back to, it is near impossible to resolve these issues long-term.

About 1 in 4 people experiencing homelessness in our community struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.

About 4 in 10 have psychiatric or emotional conditions such as depression and anxiety.

More than half report having a condition that is disabling to the extent that it prevents them from holding employment, living in stable housing, or taking care of themselves.

Seattle is making progress to end homelessness, and proven solutions are working.

Best Starts for Kids prevented more than 4,000 people – including 2,400 children and teenagers – from becoming homeless in one year.

More people are being connected with housing year after year. All Home cites 4,237 individuals being housed in 2014 and 7,118 housed in 2017.

Homelessness among veterans was reduced by 31% from 2017 to 2018.

Homelessness among children and youth under the age of 18 was reduced by 22% from 2017 to 2018.

  • Source (page 69)         


The number of families housed through King County’s homeless response system increased by 63% between 2014 and 2017.

  • Source                                         


The following video content, articles, and resources can be used as supporting content in sharing the messages above.



  • ARTICLE: Man used as proof that 'Seattle Is Dying’ tells his story




  • The Stranger: KOMO's 'Seattle Is Dying' News Special Is Killing Me


  • Real Change: KOMO asserts Seattle is dying with misery porn


  • KUOW: This Week: Is Seattle Really Dying?



  • Seattle isn’t dying, but KOMO’s program is hurting efforts to combat homelessness



Following are examples of work in motion in our community to solve homelessness.

In December 2018, King County and the City of Seattle announced a series of immediate next steps to remake our regional homelessness response system in order to fully respond to homelessness in our community. These next steps include the consolidation of Seattle and King County homelessness funding and policy-making into a new unified entity, with a shared vision on solutions, informed by the people  most impacted and centered in racial equity, coordinating efforts on a shared regional action plan.

Third Door Coalition -- made up of Seattle-based researchers, business leaders, and service providers --  is focused on the singular goal of ending chronic homelessness in Seattle/King County. When individuals experiencing homelessness are housed, they can more easily and effectively work towards resolving issues such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. Third Door uses a “Housing First” approach and permanent supportive housing programs in an effort to end homelessness for those who are “hardest” to house.

Home Base, a partnership between the Seattle Mariners, the United Way of King County, and the King County Bar Association, is working to ensure individuals who are facing eviction can quickly access legal counsel, financial assistance and social services. More than half of all people who are evicted in our community owe less than one month’s rent. Home Base will co-locate social workers with Housing Justice Project staff and volunteer attorneys to keep low-income renters facing an eviction proceeding in King County Superior Court in their homes.

The Housing Connector is a new project of the Chamber of Commerce, and will work to partner with property owners and managers to lower barriers to housing and increase our region’s affordable housing capacity. Over 8% of rental units in our  region are sitting vacant while thousands of individuals and families are desperately in need of housing. The Housing Connector connects those experiencing homelessness to rental homes in King County, in addition to offering customer service and support to property owners and landlords.

Building Changes, Africatown International and All Home officially launched the Diversion Centralized Fund (DCF) in December, offering community-wide, same-day access to financial assistance to help people that have just become homeless move quickly to housing, rather than further into homelessness. Providers using the “diversion technique” start with a problem-solving conversation to help people identify solutions that will move them to housing—such as one-time rent assistance, a car to get to work, or medical bill payments.

All Home’s “End Youth Homelessness Now” is working to ensure that every young person in Seattle / King County has a home by 2021. The initiative is launching next month and will bring together nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, schools, families and the community to connect young people with the services they need to exit homelessness quickly, and find permanent and safe housing.

A Way Home Washington’s Anchor Community Initiative (ACI) is statewide public-private partnership working to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness across Washington state. Since last September, ACI has launched efforts in Spokane, Walla Walla, Yakima and Pierce counties and will begin developing strategies around data collection next month.