My new proposals on homelessness

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Councilman Dunn Banner

Your Update on What's Happening at the King County Council  

Dear Friends,

It’s been a busy week. There has been much attention (and some controversy) surrounding three pieces of legislation I’ve proposed to tackle issues related to homelessness. In case you missed it, this legislation—especially my proposed Homeward Bound program—was featured on the front page of The Seattle Times.

I crafted these proposals because I think that it’s time we try out some fresh ideas here in King County.  This legislation isn’t a cure-all, but I do believe it is a step toward the sound policy that our region desperately needs. Here are my ideas:

  • Homeward Bound: a pilot program that offers bus tickets to homeless persons for the purpose of family reunification. For many of the homeless on our streets, Seattle has become a dead end, and approximately one in ten homeless people say that a ticket back to their family would enable them to get permanent housing. Similar Homeward Bound programs across the country have resulted in great success stories in cities such as Portland, San Francisco, New York City, and Berkeley.The idea is controversial in King County, but I believe it’s a discussion our community should be having.
  • Metro Outreach Teams: a pilot program to create outreach teams that connect the homeless on King County Metro to shelter and services. These outreach teams would be made up of nurses, substance abuse counselors, mental health professionals, the formerly homeless, and others. They would be well-equipped to offer help, while ensuring that buses remain a welcoming and safe place for all. When a similar program was put to work in Los Angeles, it helped 4,800 homeless persons reach services and over 80 homeless persons reach permanent housing.
  • Opioid-related Death Notification System: a pilot program to create a notification system that informs doctors a patient dies from an opioid overdose. This notification system would send non-judgmental, educational letters to prescribing doctors when a patient’s death is found to be related to an opioid overdose. In San Diego and LA County, this program resulted in opioid prescriptions falling by nearly 10%. This simple notification system would be a creative way to tackle opioid addiction at the source.  

There is still much to be done to make these proposals a reality, but I’m excited to get to work. I look forward to engaging on this legislation with my colleagues on the King County Council in the weeks ahead.  



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