Housing and Essential Needs services effective at reducing homelessness

Newly released report reveals increased housing stability and less likelihood of incarceration

OLYMPIA, WA – A Housing and Essential Needs report for the Washington State Department of Commerceshows recipients have greater housing stability and are less likely to be incarcerated compared to similar peers who do not receive Housing and Essential Needs services.

The Housing and Essential Needs Program provides non-cash rent assistance and other support – such as personal hygiene and bus tokens – for individuals who are not able to work for medical reasons and are at risk of homelessness. Housing and Essential Needs was developed to buffer vulnerable clients from the potential impact of losing cash support when the Disability Lifeline program was eliminated by the Legislature in 2011.

“We were concerned the elimination of Disability Lifeline and the related decrease in funding would hurt the state’s progress in reducing homelessness,” said Dan McConnon, Commerce deputy director for Community Services and Housing. “Instead, the switch to housing and other assistance is helping our state combat homelessness.”

The report, authored for Commerce by the DSHS Research and Data Analysis Division, evaluates the impact of Housing and Essential Needs services on measures of well-being over a six-month period. It found that compared to cash assistance, Housing and Essential Needs:

Reduces participant housing instability by 18 percent
Reduces participant prison incarceration by 86 percent

Learn more about Commerce’s housing and homeless programs.


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