Case Study Sector
Launched in 2000, Sound Families was a multi-year, $40 million investment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to triple the number of service‐enriched housing units for homeless families in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties in the state of Washington. Over the life of the initiative 1,445 units were funded, the majority of which implemented a transitional housing model. As of June 2007, over 600 of these units were operational, and had served almost 1,500 families and more than 2,700 children. The initiative involved many collaborative relationships among nonprofit and for-profit housing developers, property managers, service providers, and local housing authorities.
Families were screened by individual programs for entry into the transitional housing units. Many programs had a maximum two-year stay, though the average length of stay was just over 12 months. Several strategies to obtain permanent housing were available to families at exit: Through agreements with local housing authorities, families may have received portable Section 8 vouchers, a housing subsidy that caps their rent at 30% of income, or they may have received priority for a public housing unit. Since its inception, the Initiative also encouraged a transition-in-place strategy at program sites where such a model was feasible. This allowed families to remain in the same housing complex, if not the same unit, once they finished receiving services as participants in the transitional program.
All Sound Families programs provided intensive case management, broadly defined as in‐home weekly case management, plus phone contact, often more than once per week. The average case load was 15 families per full-time case manager. Families who needed specialized services, such as drug and alcohol treatment, education, job training, mental health services, were usually referred to off-site providers. Typically there were no formal services offered following a family's exit from the transitional program.
- Northern America