Rep. Jayapal visits Kerner-Scott House

A DESC Senior Program Manager for Housing talks about DESC’s work as Rep. Jayapal listens.

We welcomed U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) to Kerner-Scott House on Feb. 22. Rep. Jayapal secured $985,000 for Safety, Health, and Hygiene Upgrades at Kerner-Scott House, and we wanted to show her how that funding will improve the 26-year-old building for our clients.

Before visiting Kerner-Scott and showing an apartment unit to the representative, we met at Canaday House to talk about DESC’s work, the pandemic’s effect on keeping people connected and Housing First.

KSH was DESC’s first purpose-built site for Housing First, offering 40 Permanent Supportive Housing units and 25 shelter beds (lowered to 12 for social distancing during the pandemic). Exterior renovations are underway. With the funding that Rep. Jayapal secured, DESC will:

  • install a sink and locked cabinetry in the nurses office to improve medical services
  • install a second sink, toilet and shower in the women’s shelter to improve shelter services
  • redesign the front entrance of the building and upgrade fencing for improved security
  • improve the front office, flooring, ceiling and back patio to create a more welcoming and cozier environment, and a nice space where tenants can enjoy the outdoors.

  • Three people stand in an empty apartment listening to a man describe something.
  • Four people stand outside a building, smiling at the camera.
  • Three people stand outside a building smiling at the camera.

Rent for smallest apartments way out of reach of SSI recipients

A graph shows an orange line , efficiency apartment rent, that starts at $800 in 2012 and climbs up to $1,829 in 2023, with only a slight dip to $1,523 in 2021, then back up. A teal line below, SSI benefits, starts at $698 in 2012 and gradually reaches $914 in 2023.
The orange line shows HUD’s Fair Market Rents (FMR) for the past 11 years in the private rental market in the Seattle-Bellevue metro area. The teal line shows the maximum an individual can receive in a monthly SSI payment. (Data source: HUD Office of Policy Development & Research and Social Security Administration).

People living on federal disability benefits are priced way out of the private rental market for the smallest apartments in the Seattle-Bellevue metro area, and it only gets worse every year.

With the gap between monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI)* benefits and monthly Fair Market Rents (FMR)** wider than ever in 2023, it’s no wonder that so many people find themselves experiencing homelessness.

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Housing First benefits the whole community

A metal jump ring holds two brass keys on a white background.

This DESC cornerstone pairs housing and robust services

Housing First is a cornerstone of DESC philosophy because our experience, backed by research, shows it is most helpful and most cost-effective for people experiencing homelessness along with substance use disorder, mental illness, and other disabling conditions. Housing First doesn’t mean “housing only.” It means, “come inside, feel comfort, privacy, and support so you have the foundation you need to pursue your goals and reconnect to the life of the community.”

Many critics believe that housing must be earned through prior completion of treatment for substance use disorder, mental illness, or other conditions. But requiring treatment participation before housing simply prolongs suffering, allows medical and psychiatric conditions to worsen and produces more chaos on the street.

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Canaday House

On Jan. 2, a valued member of our community at Canaday House was tragically and unexpectedly killed, and a person who was also a member of our community has been charged with her murder. We remain shocked and horrified by this senseless act of violence, and we extend our deepest sympathies to the victim’s family and friends.

DESC is committed to serving people in crisis. Among other things, we operate the only voluntary crisis care facility for all of King County’s 2.3 million people. Despite working with people every day who are experiencing their worst moments of despair, confusion, and pain, an incident like this is unprecedented in our 43-year history.

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