Skip to main content

100 days to reduce youth homelessness. How much can King County do?

caption: Homeless families outside a shelter in downtown Seattle.
Enlarge Icon
Homeless families outside a shelter in downtown Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Thousands of young people in Washington state go to sleep each night without a stable home.

Now communities in King, Pierce and Spokane counties are taking on a 100-day challenge to reduce youth homelessness.

They are racing to get hundreds of youths off the streets by the end of July.

Jim Theofelis is the executive director of A Way Home Washington, the group organizing the challenge.

He knows some people will be skeptical that any lasting impact can be made in just a couple of months.

But Theofelis says the goal of the challenge isn't to end youth homelessness; it's to create a sense of urgency and help foster innovation.

"It allows us to re-look at what are we spending our money on, what are the programs that we have, what's working and what’s not working," he said. "Let's get the front-line service providers and the young people who have experienced homelessness to come up with a plan that we can test out over the course of 100 days."

Theofelis says he also hopes the hard limit will attract input from businesses, who may have otherwise stayed away from such an open-ended problem.

In King County, he says the goal is to get 450 young adults, between the ages of 18 and 24, into stable housing by the deadline.

Theofelis says it's crucial to tackle the problem early.

"We want to make sure that those young people don't become chronically adult homeless, and we want to get involved right now so we can change the trajectory of their future," he says.

Theofelis says a special focus will be put on helping young people of color and those in the LGBTQ community, two groups over-represented in the state's homeless population.

Why you can trust KUOW