Seattle and King County join to fight homeless crisis

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Thursday the two governments are joining forces to combat the homeless crisis.

Surrounded by cameras, Durkan and Constantine signed a memorandum of understanding between the city and county to increase collaboration of homeless services.

“We’re going to make sure that business as usual is not how we operate,” said Durkan.

Durkan and Dow would not go into specifics, but said real changes are coming in how the two governments handle the homeless crisis.

“We’re not looking at the crisis on the street but the root causes of homelessness,” said Durkan.

This focus is something people who work with the homeless say needs to happen much more.

“I see a lot of folks walk through the doors who are hurting and broken,” said Terry Pallas, the chief program officer for Union Gospel Mission.

He grew up in Seattle seeing the homeless problem become a crisis. Twelve years ago, he left his job to work with the homeless community full-time.

However, Pallas says, he’s seen little improvements.

About two years ago, the city and council declared the homeless issue a state of emergency. Last year, the county and city, combined, spent $195 million fighting the homeless problem, our partners at The Seattle Times reported.

Pallas says even with all this help, government is not investing in one of the most important problems people who are homeless face.

“If you’re not addressing the addiction issue, and you’re just handing someone a key, that falls way short," he said.

Durkan says this joint effort will focus on the homeless issue much further than just housing; she says it will especially focus on addiction.