King County programs that provide family reunification through bus tickets and other ground transportation for people experiencing homelessness will get another $100,000 in funding through a supplemental budget proviso championed by Councilmember Reagan Dunn, whose District 9 includes part of Kent.
The funding was approved Wednesday by the King County Council as part of King County’s supplemental budget, according to a news release from Dunn.
Additionally, the King County executive’s office will work on the design of Dunn’s proposed Homeward Bound family reunification program. Dunn’s pending legislation would unify current family reunification services under a single, dedicated program and perform outreach among homeless communities to raise awareness of the service.
“This funding allows us to offer stop-gap family reunification services while collecting data that will inform the design of a dedicated Homeward Bound program,” Dunn said. “Considering that San Diego spends $1.2 million on their Homeward Bound program, ours will ultimately require a larger investment — but for now, this is a good start.”
King County currently spends $37,000 across five programs on family reunification. Dunn’s budget proviso almost triples that funding.
According to King County’s 2019 Count Us In data, there is substantial demand for a Homeward Bound program, with 9% of homeless persons indicating that family reunification services would enable them to obtain permanent housing. The same report found that nearly half of the county’s homeless residents had lived in King County for less than four years.
Similar Homeward Bound programs across the country have resulted in success stories, according to Dunn, including in the cities of Portland, San Francisco, New York City, Berkeley, New Orleans, West Palm Beach (Florida) and Denver.