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Does Your Code Provide Homelessness Solutions?

Posted by | February 28, 2017

Police officers“Sometimes it’s easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize is that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.” ― Mike Yankoski

Homelessness has been prevalent in our region for some time, but in recent years there has been a clear increase in the number of homeless. This can be readily observed, and has been confirmed in various reports and statistical measurements. For example, the 2016 One Night Count in King County showed 4,505 homeless people, a 19 percent increase over 2015.

There are a lot of policy options for alleviating homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. MRSC has just released its Homelessness and Housing Toolkit for Cities, which contains 18 examples of tools and actions that have been used in response to homelessness and the lack of affordable housing. However, in some jurisdictions, existing codes can present unintended barriers to providing remedies for homelessness. This blog will summarize a few common issues that can arise.

Is Your Zoning Code Clear With Respect to Use and Process?

Many jurisdictions have adopted regulations governing temporary homeless encampments, which are intended to provide emergency housing for relatively short periods of time. However, some regulations are not as clear with respect to other types of uses that address homelessness.

Do your regulations define what constitutes a permanent shelter, as opposed to one that moves to a different location every 90 days? Do your regulations define what constitutes transitional housing? Day centers are important since many overnight shelters are not open during the daytime. Do your regulations define a use that includes day centers?

Continue reading at MRSC Local Government Success

Originally written by Oskar Rey

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