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King County Homelessness Authority gets new leader, for now

caption: Tents line South Weller Street near the intersection of 12th Avenue South on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Seattle.
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Tents line South Weller Street near the intersection of 12th Avenue South on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Changes are in the works at the troubled agency in charge of homelessness in King County.

L. Darrell Powell will become the second interim head of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, pending approval by the governing committee.

If approved, Powell will start work on Feb. 14. The interim position is temporary. The search for a permanent CEO continues.

RELATED: How a regional homelessness board became so dysfunctional

Powell is a former CEO of the United Way of King County, and was once CFO for the YMCA of Greater Seattle.

"The work of the King County Regional Homeless Authority to reduce homelessness and ensure our neighbors who are homeless and unstably housed are supported in the ways they need is one of our region’s highest priorities and deepest challenges,” United Way president and CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr said in a statement. “We have great confidence that Darrell will be an effective leader as Interim CEO of the KCRHA.”

McHenry is also part of the Homelessness Authority's implementation board.

King County's Homelessness Authority has been struggling. In May 2023, its former CEO, Marc Dones, suddenly stepped down. Dones gave two recommendations for whoever takes over the job: revisit the structure of the Homelessness Authority board; focus more on underlying policies that led to the national homelessness crisis and less on blame.

Moving forward

Alison Eisinger heads the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, an advocacy group. She says leaders need to spend a lot more money on homelessness. Otherwise, any new agency head is being set up to fail.

RELATED: King County gets new, five-year plan to address homelessness

"The fundamental barrier to a regional response to homelessness being effective is how much total funding is being allocated to do what the region needs," Eisinger said.

Some Seattle officials, however, indicate the Homelessness Authority needs to do more with the money it has.

The agreement that established the Homelessness Authority is up for renewal at the end of 2024. At that time, parties may choose to withdraw, or continue with a renewed or amended agreement.

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