The City of Seattle announced Monday morning a new team of homeless outreach workers “paired with specially trained Seattle Police Department personnel” and a planned home for its new Navigation Center on 12th Ave S at Weller in the Pearl Warren Building, a few blocks south of Jackson and just blocks from the camping area known as The Jungle:
Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of a new Navigation Team, comprised of outreach workers paired with specially trained Seattle Police Department (SPD) personnel, who will work to connect unsheltered people to housing and critical resources, while helping address pervasive challenges around the issue of homelessness in Seattle. The team will immediately begin working with unsheltered people who have urgent and acute unmet needs, and will serve as the primary access point for people to be served by the Navigation Center.
In the announcement, Murray’s office did not say when the new center will open but that that renovations are “underway. The Seattle Human Services Department and the Downtown Emergency Service Center will set up temporary sites in the meantime “that will provide services similar to those that will be available at the Navigation Center” including “assessments and referrals for housing, mental and physical health services.”
Navigation Center group staff “will immediately begin working with unsheltered people who have urgent and acute unmet needs, and will serve as the primary access point for people to be served by the Navigation Center,” according to the announcement — “including people who relocated from the I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt.”
The selection of the location and the start of the new team comes months after the plan for a new center based on a program in San Francisco was first announced by Mayor Ed Murray. “The Navigation Team will work with people living with the most severe challenges, such as ongoing opiate addiction or mental health issues,” the mayor said Monday. “This population of people living unsheltered are too often found in dire circumstances, in unauthorized encampments where they are more vulnerable to serious criminal activity. Our outreach must focus on these specific challenges to achieve the goal of moving people living unsheltered into stable, permanent housing and helping them get back on their feet.”
In January, SF Mayor Ed Lee spoke about his city’s navigation center program at an appearance with Murray at Seattle University on homelessness. “Shelters aren’t the answer, there is no transformation in lives,” Lee said. “(Navigation centers) are a place to get you ready for permanent housing. I want a result to happen for the person we bring into the navigation center.” Lee said San Francisco might need as many as 11 centers to meet demand.
According to a report on San Francisco’s navigation center done in May of 2016, the annual cost per bed at the center was $36,682, 399 people had been served by the center in the past year and of those 399, 268 had been moved into traditional housing and 128 had been moved into supportive housing.
The city and county are also moving forward on a plan to create two safe consumption sites to stem the tide of overdose deaths.
The mayor’s full announcement on the new Navigation Center location is here.