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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.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

State audit: local governments should use data to address homelessness in WA

Local governments need to rely more on data to address homelessness in their communities, according to a recent state audit that focused on two cities —Seattle and Spokane, and two counties — Snohomish and Yakima.

“When it comes to determining which services to procure, we found decisions were often driven by grant requirements and approval from elected officials,” said Sohara Monaghan, a senior performance auditor with the Washington State Auditor’s Office.

Monaghan said data can help them better evaluate how service providers are performing, and which programs are meeting goals.

“We found that there are some governments that are not using data to find out which of their programs are not meeting goals, that are intended to move people out of homelessness,” she said.

Part of the audit included meeting with stakeholders, who noted that governments could do a better job prioritizing procured services.

The audit comes at a time when statewide spending on homelessness jumped to $357 million dollars last fiscal year — up by $108 million.

Many programs faced different challenges including staff shortages, turnover, and administrative changes.