Shift’s Newsmaker Interview is with Caitlyn Axe, the author of a new must-read report from the Discovery Institute’s Fix Homelessness project. The report revealed that the King County Regional Housing Authority’s (KCRHA) collaboration with local companies called “Partnership for Zero” not only dramatically failed in its mission to remove homeless individuals from Downtown Seattle, but it cost taxpayers nearly 10 times the amount to house individuals than what it cost non-profits to perform the same task. On the day the report was released, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell announced that the “partnership” was terminated.
The report then exposed a disturbing lack of accountability by the politicians who govern the KCRHA. While the authority distributes millions in taxpayer funds to local homeless organizations, it does not require the recipients to report how many people it actually helped.
In her interview, Axe described her findings in the report. She also provided her thoughts on the disastrous “housing first” policy which has resulted in more homeless individuals in nearly all major West Coast cities. Finally she predicted the future of the controversial KCRHA and what Shift readers can do to maintain pressure on the troubled authority.
First, please tell our readers about Discovery institute’s Fix Homelessness Initiative. What is its mission and who is involved in the effort?
Discovery’s Fix Homelessness initiative exists to provide real, compassionate solutions to homelessness that address root causes like addiction, mental illness, and broken relationships. Our team produces a unique blend of traditional think tank scholarship and independent video journalism, and we’re successfully changing the conversation on homelessness in Washington and across the nation. Check out fixhomelessness.org!
You authored a very interesting report last week regarding the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. What were the key findings of your report?
I spent months digging into the spending and outcomes of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s outreach program — “Partnership for Zero.” The government run program collapsed last week, and our report shows that it was a very expensive failure. The program began in 2022 with $10 million in investments and claimed it could reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness downtown to 30 people in one year. One year later, the program had only permanently housed 115 people at a price tag of $26,000 per person. There are at least 13,368 homeless people in King County!