PROTEC17 welcomes our newest members from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to our union!
The KCRHA is a new agency that coordinates services, funding, and policy for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle and King County. Its mission is to significantly decrease homelessness throughout the County using data, proven practices, and equity and social justice principles.
“Our ultimate goal would be to end homelessness — to be out of a job,” said PROTEC17 member Claire Guillmette, who works as the Evaluation and Analytics Coordinator for King County Regional Homelessness Authority. “It’s aspirational, but we show up at work because we really believe that homelessness is an issue that can be resolved.”
Founded in 2021, the agency was born from a collaboration between the City of Seattle, King County, and related community groups to address the complex issues that people experiencing homelessness face. A key part of their mission is to center the lived experiences of people impacted by homelessness in order to best serve the people who need the most help. By consolidating the municipal and county response systems under one centralized authority, expanding physical and behavioral health options, and increasing access to affordable housing, among other aims, the KCRHA hopes to ultimately achieve “functional zero” status, meaning that when homelessness does occur, it is rare, temporary, and one-time.
“My greatest hope for this effort is to reach functional zero,” said new PROTEC17 member Raphael Hartman, who, as an Ombudsperson in the KCRHA, helps people to navigate the system and engages with them to gather feedback and recommend system-level changes. “[We can do this by] allocating funds to providers who serve those who are the most marginalized, and in the meantime having a more quick streamlined process for community members who are in need of housing resources.”
Tony Machacha agrees. As the Community Capacity Manager at the KCRHA, Machacha supports smaller, community-based organizations who serve the homeless but who have not previously been included in the contracting process to manage city funds. Growing up in a family of public servants and union members, and a former PROTEC17 member in Public Health, he likened returning to the union to “coming home again.”
“I want to be able to bring my best to my work every day,” said Machacha. “Life is full of demands — we’re providers for families and parents, and for extended families on other continents, too. I want to know that I can be all in on my work without peripheral worries about my job security, insurance coverage, time off, or a million other distractions.”
Guillmette echoes Machacha’s values of dedication to the work and community, and solidarity with coworkers.
“I care about my colleagues and the work we do,” said Guillmette, who, as Evaluation and Analytics Coordinator, collects and curates quantitative and qualitative data on homelessness and builds new data systems to support the programs and services of the KCRHA. “Bringing the union values to our staff to determine what work looks like for us will help us serve the community — and all of King County — better.”
On the path to eradicating homelessness in our region is ensuring that the employees doing the work have a voice on the job and the support that they need to be successful. PROTEC17 is proud to represent the employees who work on the frontlines to end homelessness. Please join us in welcoming them to our union!