SEATTLE - King County Vice Chair Reagan Dunn introduced legislation Tuesday focused on homelessness in the county, including a pilot program that would offer the homeless "long-distance bus tickets home" so they can reunite with family members.
According to a news release on the legislation, this year's report on homelessness for King County indicated that 9 percent of homeless people said such a service would allow them to have permanent housing. The same report said nearly half of the county's homeless have lived in the county for less than four years.
Dunn's proposed program would earmark $1 million for tickets home for homeless people who want them. Currently, King County spends $37,000 across five family reunification programs.
"Similar ‘Homeward Bound' programs across the country have resulted in success stories, including in cities such as Portland, San Francisco, New York City, Berkley, New Orleans, West Palm Beach, and Denver," the release said.
Another bill proposes a pilot program for outreach teams to connect with homeless people who use King County Metro, since homeless people often find shelter at bus stops and on buses.
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The teams would be made up of nurses, substance abuse counselors, mental health professionals, the formerly homeless, and others who could link the homeless with needed services "while ensuring that buses remain a welcoming and safe place for all," the release said.
Similar teams have been piloted in Los Angeles.
The last of Dunn's proposals is for a notification system for opioid-related deaths. The system would notify prescribing doctors when the death of one of their patients is found to be related to an opioid overdose.
According to King County's 2019 Count Us In survey of the homeless, about one-third of homeless people reported substance dependence.
San Diego and Los Angeles County have similar programs that resulted in a nearly 10 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions, the news release said.
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