For immediate release
For more information contact:
Rhonda Rosenberg, Director of Communications
King County Housing Authority
KCHA reaches 90 percent lease-up of Emergency Housing Vouchers funded through American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
The King County Housing Authority, in partnership with a number of organizations across the county working to help people experiencing homelessness, has achieved a lease-up rate of 90 percent for the 762 Emergency Housing Vouchers (EHVs) it was awarded through the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This compares with a national lease-up rate of 50.98 percent.* Of the top 20 grantees ranked by award size, KCHA is the first housing authority to reach this utilization milestone.
"These vouchers are providing hundreds of individuals and families experiencing homelessness with stability through permanent housing and embedded services, helping us to effectively address the humanitarian crisis of homelessness in King County,” said KCHA Executive Director Robin Walls. “With a waiting list of more than 19,000 families for public housing, KCHA strives to deploy every single housing resource it has available as quickly as possible to address the affordable housing crisis in King County.”
EHVs are new federal housing choice vouchers that serve individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness; at risk of experiencing homelessness; fleeing, or attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking; or were recently homeless and at high risk of housing instability.
KCHA expects its EHVs to be fully leased up by the end of the calendar year.
KCHA’s success rate can be attributed to close coordination with many community-based organizations across King County and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority; a more coordinated and centralized approach to landlord recruitment; and the use of contracted housing navigators from YWCA, Catholic Community Services, and InterIm CDA to assist people with their housing search.
KCHA employed many creative strategies leading to swift utilization of the vouchers, including:
- Strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations that provide housing navigation services, including Catholic Community Services, InterIm CDA and the YWCA of Seattle/King County, which provided one-on-one housing search support to voucher holders on their housing search process. Additionally, many of the organizations that referred their clients to KCHA’s EHV program also provided housing search supports, a critical component to navigating King County’s highly competitive rental market.
- Provision of flexible funding to help mitigate financial leasing barriers that many low-income people face when trying to lease up in rental housing. Unique to the EHV program, HUD provided special funding with these vouchers to help cover costs such as rental unit application fees, deposits, and other fees charged by landlords for tenancy.
- Creation of universal forms between KCHA and Seattle Housing Authority, so as to minimize paperwork burden for applicants, as well as creative measures that were necessary to perform intake while lifting up this program in the midst of a global pandemic.
- The ability to invest the staff resources to generate predictive dashboards, which help KCHA project the volume of referrals and voucher issuances. These estimates ensure that KCHA provides appropriate staffing levels, helping to expedite the intake process for EHV recipients so they can begin their housing search as quickly as possible.
Also important is our status as a Moving to Work (MTW) agency. MTW is a special designation from HUD which provides KCHA with key flexibilities in funding and program administration. Many, if not most, of the largest awardees of EHVs have this special designation. KCHA leveraged flexibilities and its experience serving people exiting homelessness to effectively and efficiently implement all aspects of the Emergency Housing Voucher program without delay.
In 2021, KCHA was awarded 762 EHVs and nearly $18.4 million in funding through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and allocated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Through the unprecedented award of these vouchers, effective July 1, 2021, KCHA was able to help more people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, and victims of human trafficking.
The American Rescue Plan Act allowed HUD to allocate additional one-time use vouchers to Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) through a formula designed to direct emergency vouchers to PHAs operating in the areas where eligible populations have the greatest need. It required close coordination between housing authorities and homelessness crisis response systems. In King County, KCHA partnered with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, Seattle Housing Authority and Renton Housing Authority to quickly implement a regional approach with the goal of distributing this resource equitably and in a timely manner.
KCHA, a mission-driven organization established under state law, assists more than 23,000 households in the Seattle metropolitan region on a daily basis. The Authority administers rental housing assistance, develops and manages affordable housing, provides support services to low-income residents, and works closely with community stakeholders to address local priorities such as ending homelessness, improving educational outcomes for the region’s low-income youth, and assuring that disabled and elderly households can live with dignity.
* Emergency Housing Voucher Data Dashboard – HUD