SEATTLE (June 9, 2016) – Mayor Edward Murray took action through Executive Order today directing the creation of a low-barrier, one-stop service center for individuals without shelter to receive the customized support they need to move from the streets back into permanent homes.
“Our strategy for helping people without shelter has to be broader than designating another site in the city to pitch a tent,” said Murray.
The service center will be modeled on the San Francisco Navigation Center, the first of its kind, dormitory-style living facility that provides people living outside with shower, bathroom, laundry and dining facilities, a place to store their belongings, as well as round-the-clock case management, mental and behavioral health services, and connections to benefit programs and housing, all in one location. This facility will prioritize placement for individuals who are currently unsheltered and offer them a secure place to stay and access additional supports in a 24/7 program.
The San Francisco Navigation Center prioritizes serving people from geographic areas with extraordinary public health and public safety challenges, places like Seattle’s I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt. One of the reasons it is effective is because the model enables organic groups or communities that have formed in specific geographic areas to stay together and transition to the Navigation Center.
Murray visited with people living under I-5 yesterday. Pictures can be found here.
The center will be particularly suited to people with partners, pets or possessions who choose to stay in encampments rather than shelters, where partners, pets or possessions are not typically allowed. It will serve up to 75 people at a time.
The center will be funded in part by $600,000 secured by the City in the state capital budget in the 2016 legislative session. The City is matching this state appropriation with a private donation of $600,000 earmarked for homelessness services, and will establish a designated fund to collect additional private donations to support the center.
In March of this year, Murray visited the San Francisco Navigation Center with City Councilmember Tim Burgess and staff from the City of Seattle, King County, and All Home King County to learn about this emerging practice and how the model might be replicated in Seattle. This visit was followed by a second delegation that included Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.
“Every single person living in an encampment has their own story, their own dignity and their own set of reasons for how they got where they are,” said Murray. “These reasons are often incredibly complicated and incredibly difficult, and we have to address these reasons at a very personal level in order to make a meaningful difference. This kind of comprehensive, person-centered approach has been used successfully in San Francisco to help people move from the streets back into permanent homes. We want to duplicate that success here.”
Murray’s Executive Order establishes a public-private partnership workgroup convened by Department of Human Services Director Catherine Lester to develop a proposal for and help implement a replication of the San Francisco model in Seattle. This workgroup will include representatives from All Home, philanthropy and nonprofit partners with expertise in delivering effective housing and services to individuals who are homeless.
This workgroup will also coordinate closely with King County and other regional partners to provide technical assistance or coordination should other jurisdictions be interested in replicating San Francisco’s model in their respective jurisdictions to address the regional problem of homelessness. The workgroup will deliver its proposal to the Mayor within 60 days and the Human Services Department will then issue a request for proposal 30 days later, with a goal of successfully launching the service center by December 31, 2016.
Murray said the people-centered model of supporting those living outside should be reflected in our citywide conversation, as well.
“We talk a lot about the homeless in aggregate,” said Murray. “What we too often do not discuss are individuals, the thousands of our fellow human beings living among us a without a roof over their head or many of their most basic needs being met. Their situations are unlikely to improve if – rather than seeing them as they are, as individuals – all we see is an abstract concept called homelessness. We can only make progress one person at a time.”
By the numbers:
- On any given night in Seattle, 2,942 individuals are living unsheltered in our community as of the 2016 One Night Count.
- The Human Services Department is spending nearly $50 million this year to assist single adults, youth, young adults, and families, survivors of domestic violence, older adults and veterans who are currently or at risk of becoming homeless.
- This includes $7.3 million in one-time funds dedicated through the State of Emergency declared by Mayor Murray in November 2015, which funds 242 additional shelter beds; addresses encampments with outreach, cleanups, storage, referrals to chemical dependency and mental health beds; and sets aside shelter beds.