Short-term fixes highlighted in Seattle U homeless study

A series of new reports just released this week from a team of researchers led by Seattle University Professor Sara Rankin are sharing insight on how to end homelessness. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - The heated talk around the head tax could benefit from a far-reaching study about what measures work to end homelessness - and why.

The new reports were just released this week from a team of researchers led by Seattle University Professor Sara Rankin.

The timing couldn’t have been better because the crisis is only getting worse. For the many residents who complain that they don't trust the way city leaders spend money on the problem, the suggestions out of this study could be a place to start.

“The ultimate solution is housing," Professor Rankin said.

However, until those investments are made to build more affordable housing in Seattle, a series of interim measures could help.

Research by Rankin’s team shows authorized encampments, safe parking programs and accessory dwelling units - or backyard cottages - can reduce homelessness if implemented properly.

“When you throw money at something without sufficient planning, research and analysis ahead of time, problems follow," Rankin said.

Seattle has experimented with all three, but the reports compare how these programs work in other jurisdictions like San Diego, Denver and Los Angeles County. Successes and failures are detailed in the case studies.

“I would hope that if they had it to do over again today, that a report like ours would give Seattle a much clearer starting point," Rankin said.

Still, even armed with good ideas, Rankin said homelessness won't end without everyone making some hard choices.

“Absolutely the number one thing that stops those sorts of interventions from happening is public will," Rankin said. “Sometimes it's because communities don't want some of these innovative solutions located in their neighborhood."

All six reports can be accessed here.

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