Building Changes

Seattle, WA   |


Building Changes advances equitable responses to homelessness in Washington State, with a focus on children, youth, and families and the systems that serve them.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Daniel Zavala

Main address

1200 12th Avenue South Suite 1200

Seattle, WA 98144 USA

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Formerly known as

AIDS Housing of Washington



NTEE code info

Management & Technical Assistance (S02)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Housing, education, and health are systems that have a significant impact on the lives of people experiencing homelessness, especially children, youth, and families. Due to historic and structural racism, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted by homelessness and housing crises, educational injustice, and health inequities. At the same time, BIPOC lack equitable access to these systems, and those seeking support and and services have disparate experiences and outcomes compared with white people. Homelessness is the result of more than just lack of housing, and it affects people in every aspect of their lives. Together with our partners, we push for equitable, holistic responses in and across the housing, education, and health systems so that all children, youth, and families experiencing homelessness get the support they need. Resolving a housing crisis and maintaining housing stability are not possible without this.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Building Changes' Programs

Communities thrive when people have safe and stable housing. Unfortunately, homelessness and housing instability is a reality for far too many of us , particularly children, youth, and families of color. Systemic failings, inequitable access to services, and lack of coordination between the housing, education, and health systems contribute to this growing problem. That is why Building Changes works at the intersection of these systems, advancing racial equity and advocating for change, in service to people experiencing homelessness in Washington. We focus our experience and expertise at this unique level because it is where we see great need and where we can have greatest impact.

Building Changes uses an interdisciplinary approach to influence systems. Our approach is to:
1) Develop tailored solutions to meet the needs of those furthest away from housing justice
2) Evaluate the effectiveness of those solutions
3) Bring the best solutions to scale across Washington State

Our work is centered in racial equity and is informed by people with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability.

Evidence of our impact:

● With financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Building Changes led the Family Homelessness Initiative (FHI), a decade-long intensive effort to create high-performing homeless systems in Washington’s three most populous counties: King (Seattle), Pierce (Tacoma), and Snohomish (Everett). From 2011 through 2020, Building Changes assisted in the design and implementation of 79 projects totaling $29.8 million. We are documenting and sharing what we learned through the initiative about making homeless systems more equitable and effective.

● We have advanced Diversion, an innovative cost-effective approach that empowers people to resolve their housing crises quickly, safely, and permanently. Building Changes is testing and evaluating this promising strategy in communities across the state -- from full-scale implementation of Diversion in remote Asotin County to Diversion over the phone and Diversion paired with Maternal Support Services in Pierce County and a Centralized Diversion Fund model in King County.

● Through our efforts to address student homelessness, we have provided in-depth data analysis on academic outcomes for students experiencing homelessness statewide, created a comprehensive data dashboard on student homelessness in Washington, and developed research-based practices and recommendations to help schools and districts support students and families experiencing homelessness.

● In partnership with the Raikes Foundation, we launched the Washington State Student and Youth Homelessness COVID-19 Response Fund, which raised over $4 million in flexible funds to support more than192 organizations, schools, school districts, and tribes in 24 different counties.

● Our leadership and administration of the Washington Youth & Families Fund has resulted in the investment of additional public and private dollars towards innovative housing interventions and strategies that support youth and families experiencing homelessness. We have awarded over $59.6M in funding to more than 118 grantees – including two tribes – across 28 counties.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Building Changes pushes for racial equity and change in the systems that impact experiencing homelessness.

Our Focus Areas:
- Housing Crisis | We advance equitable strategies to support people experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

- Education | We lead a statewide effort to improve academic and housing outcomes for students experiencing homelessness.

- Health | We improve equitable health care access to support health and housing stability for people experiencing homelessness.

We use an interdisciplinary approach to advocate for change at the systems level. Working with a wide array of partners, including service and housing providers, policymakers, advocates, and community members, we:

- Advance innovative strategies that help people resolve their housing crises
- Influence policy and advocate for adequate and sustainable resources for the homeless and housing systems
- Hold those systems accountable to advance and adopt racially equitable and culturally responsive policies, practices, and processes
- Facilitate cross-systems collaboration to improve coordinated service delivery

In everything we do, we focus on measurable results and practical solutions:

- Our Research & Evaluation team conducts data analyses, studies, research, and program evaluations that guide our work at every stage in our process—meaning we strive to be as rigorous in assessing our own efficacy and solutions as we are in understanding the problem of homelessness itself.

- We are constantly engaged in building the skills of nonprofits and local communities—through joint planning and program model development, technical assistance, data coaching, and training, we expand our partners' capacity and equip them to create meaningful, immediate improvements in their systems and services for those in need.

Through this process, we make fundamental changes at the systems level to the way services are funded, delivered, and governed in a community. In particular, we strive to:

- Increase Cross-Sector Collaboration: Building Changes has cultivated deep experience building and supporting effective collaborations between the employment, education, housing, and health systems that people experiencing homelessness too often struggle to navigate. This results in services that are more coherent, helpful, and efficient for the families and young people who rely upon them.

- Reduce Racial Disparities and Disproportionality: Families and youth of color disproportionately struggle with poverty and homelessness in Washington State. We are testing strategies that directly target families and youth of color to close the gaps in access and outcomes they experience in comparison to their peers.

Through our Schoolhouse Washington project, Building Changes is improving housing stability and advancing educational success for the more than 40,000 students experiencing homelessness in our state. We have communicated the urgency of student homelessness to policymakers and practitioners by publishing two in-depth analyses of statewide student homelessness data (, as well as a set of dashboards that provide current student homelessness data broken down by school district, legislative district, and county (

Moving forward with Schoolhouse Washington, we are developing innovative practices for catalyzing solutions to student homelessness. We predict that these practices will drive school districts and their communities to implement practices and policies that, evidence shows, can lead to better academic and housing outcomes for students experiencing homelessness.

Since 2014, Building Changes has tested Diversion as an approach for helping families that already are homeless. Results from our two biggest Diversion pilots show about half of the 1,898 families that pursued Diversion found safe housing quickly, within a median of 37 days, averting the need for costlier interventions. Among the families successfully housed through Diversion, 76% ended up in their own rental without a housing subsidy, and 83% did not return to homelessness within a year.

Diversion is a process, not a program. It differs from homeless interventions that require intensive case management and sizable system resources. As a result, Diversion costs less to get families successfully housed—an average of $1,668 per family. Diversion helps families quickly identify their own realistic options for stable housing and develop a plan for securing it. Diversion offers one-time financial assistance and other short-term services, such as mediation with a landlord or relative, to help families make a smooth and safe transition out of homelessness.

We are pleased our county partners are now expanding their use of Diversion. Pierce County policymakers were so encouraged by the results of the pilot, they funded the use of Diversion across the entire homeless response system. Now, all populations experiencing homelessness—families and individuals—can pursue Diversion to resolve their housing crisis.

We continue to implement Diversion around the state, including in Adams, Chelan, Clark, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas, Okanogan, Spokane, and Whatcom Counties. We have also trained other sectors in the skills of Diversion, and testing whether Diversion can prevent precariously-housed families from falling into homelessness in the first place.


Building Changes

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Building Changes

Board of directors
as of 9/17/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

J. Wesley Saint Clair

Retired, King County Superior Court Judge

Michael Brown

The Seattle Foundation

Chad Swaney


Dilip Wagle

McKinsey & Company

Rogers Weed


Tracy Hilliard

ORS Impact

Travis Walter


David Wertheimer

Seattle University

Chris Bruno

X2Y Strategic Advisors

T'wina Nobles

Tacoma Urban League

J. Wesley Saint Clair

King County Superior Court Judge (retired)

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/02/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
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Race & ethnicity

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