Kollin Min
Kollin Min

For the next presentation in the Initiative on Community Engagement series, local residents can hear about how homelessness in Seattle compares with other cities and where it is worse.

In “The Real Cause — Homelessness in Seattle,” two researchers: Kollin Min, formerly of the Gates Foundation, and Dr. Gregg Colburn, of the University of Washington, will share what research indicates about the causes for homelessness and how Seattle compares with other cities in the country.

The presentation will take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 21 via Zoom. People should register for the event via SignUP, https://signup.com/go/NWpQVkM.

According to his bio, Min is an attorney with more than 20 years experience in nonprofit, governmental and private sectors. He is a former senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and previously served as the Seattle/Washington state director for Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., a national nonprofit housing intermediary.

Colburn is an assistant professor at the University of Washington, College of Built Environments, Department of Real Estate. He is also the co-author of a soon-to-be-released book, “Homelessness is a Housing Problem,” which explores the “substantial variation rates in homelessness apparent in cities across the United States,” according to his bio.

This will be the fourth presentation in the Initiative on Community Engagement series, hosted by Queen Anne volunteers Beth Bunnell and Paula Mueller, both members of the Queen Anne Community Council. The series focuses on issues of concern for Seattle residents, with the purpose of giving people a platform to learn about different topics of interest relevant to their community and how to get involved in making a difference.

Since they began last fall, presentations have largely focused on homelessness, including Plymouth Housing and permanent supportive housing; Queen Anne Helpline and the work it does in helping families stay in their homes; and a vision reset for Seattle from former City Councilmember and Queen Anne resident Tim Burgess.

“Based on attendance and feedback, it’s been really well received, and the topics seem to be topics of interest to the community, and so far all of the presenters have received compliments. So, to me, that’s sort of a sign of success,”  Mueller said.

Mueller said, since the Initiative on Community Engagement presentations began, attendance has grown to reach a larger group of people, outside of just Queen Anne.

“The fact that other people are also joining, it tells me that the topics are of interest in other communities, and the people that we have invited to talk about them — we try to get speakers who have credibility and can speak well to a topic — and I think that it clearly indicates that we are doing that,” Mueller said. “A mini-civics education is what I call it.

Mueller said she is especially pleased she was able to arrange for Min and Colburn to present because of the work they have done in the past and what their research has indicated.

She said Min’s work for the Gates Foundation centered around a study it did on family homelessness, which focused on family homelessness in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties and what services the counties or organizations in them were providing. The Gates Foundation members also created data programs for the agencies and organizations to help manage their services. The information compiled has been useful in ongoing research, but it gives the service providers credible data that can be used when applying for more outside funding, Mueller said.

Colburn, who participated in that study with Min, will also speak about his book and the research on homelessness in major cities around the country he conducted with his co-author. Mueller said, in their research, they analyzed different factors, such as mental illness, that could contribute to homelessness in those cities and determined how much of an impact they actually had.

“So they did this research and came to a different conclusion than what you would think the answer would be,” Mueller said.

She said Colburn and his co-author don’t provide the answer to solving homelessness, they just state what factor affects homelessness the most in the cities with significant homeless populations.

After this month’s presentation, Mueller said she has tentatively scheduled District 36 Sen. Reuven Carlyle and Reps. Liz Berry and Noel Frame to present in May about the legislative session.

In June, King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles will present and talk about county homeless services.