15 things CHS heard at the chamber’s Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum

Thursday’s panel on stage at the Broadway Performance Hall (Image: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)

A small crowd gathered in the Broadway Performance Hall Thursday night for a forum on homelessness hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce as the crisis continues to grow.

Representatives from a number of organizations looking to aid people who are homeless, including the REACH program, the Seattle Police Department’s Navigation Team, and the Unsheltered Crisis Response Team, discussed the strategies they’re currently utilizing, while attendees wanted answers as to why an issue that’s been declared a citywide emergency for three years isn’t getting better.

The event was moderated by Egan Orion, newly selected as the chamber’s director and a candidate for Seattle City Council.

With 12,112 homeless people counted in last year’s point-in-time count, the sixth year in a row the numbers increased, King County continues to be the epicenter of the crisis. Washington, the 13th largest state in America, had the fifth largest homeless population of any state, according to federal data.

15 Things CHS heard at the forum

  1. One of the top concerns of both the panelists and attendees was that organizations don’t have enough money to run their organizations in the most efficient way possible. “Clearly there aren’t enough resources in the city; none of you have enough resources to do your job as well as you would like for it to be done,” one man said. “Clearly the city doesn’t really view it as an emergency. They just want to say it’s an emergency, but they haven’t put the money behind it.” Continue reading

Reminder: Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum Thursday night

Representatives from the City of Seattle and organizations focused on homelessness will be part of a panel Thursday night at the Broadway Performance Hall:

Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum

The Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum is being organized by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to explore “what is being done” and “how you can help” when it comes to homelessness, shelter, and services. Continue reading

Provider selected for program to restore homelessness outreach to Broadway

The Seattle Human Services Department made an announcement Monday on a key decision that will put homelessness outreach workers back on the streets around Broadway.

The city department’s selection panel has chosen Evergreen Treatment Center’s REACH program to fulfill its $244,400 portion of a new effort to put the workers into action in three neighborhoods: Capitol Hill, the International District/Chinatown, and First Hill.

“Outreach services are defined as efforts to approach and engage someone with the objective of developing a relationship of trust and connecting that person with resources. Services may include addressing a person’s survival needs, providing health and other education, facilitating access to available services such as diversion or emergency shelter, and establishing ongoing, trusting relationships,” HSD says. Continue reading

Homeless outreach workers returning to Broadway starting in April

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The three neighborhood plan that will bring homeless outreach services back to Broadway has a start date — and by April 1st, the organization providing that outreach will be in place to make it happen.

“It’s not a solution to chase away homeless to another neighborhood,” Egan Orion, the new executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and administrator of the Broadway Business Improvement Area, “At least having outreach workers on the ground, being able to connect them, getting to know them, helping them navigate system, some folks will be helped out of that situation.” Continue reading

After more than 400,000 meals for those in need on Capitol Hill, Don Jensen exits Community Lunch

Don, center, with volunteers (Image: Lucas Boyle)

In 1985, a group of local Lutheran churches banded together to provide a hot meal for low-income senior citizens of Capitol Hill. Ten people showed up for the first lunch.

On a recent rainy March day, the scene at the Central Parish House of the Central Lutheran Church looks very different. A quickly-growing crowd of over 30 people huddled under and near the awning of the entrance to the church, waiting for the doors to open at noon for a warm lunch of chicken and rice casserole.

Inside, plates clatter while a group of volunteers arranges the food, including a side of vegetable salad, buffet-style, on long tables near the back of the large, high-vaulted room. Others fold napkins and add more chairs to each table. At least 150 people are expected to come through the doors in the next hour. Continue reading

City Council moves nomination process for new head of Human Services Department out of Sawant-controlled committee

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has lost control of her bid to hold Mayor Jenny Durkan to a higher standard in her selection of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department.

Friday, Johnson’s nomination will be picked up for a restarted process under the Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing Affordability, a committee Sawant co-chairs with fellow Seattle City Council members — and relative centrists when it comes to the mayor’s agenda — Sally Bagshaw and Teresa Mosqueda.

The process to consider Johnson’s nomination had sat with the Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renter Rights Committee where Sawant serves as the only chair. Continue reading

Seattle’s fight over homelessness response flares up with vote on Human Services director appointment process — UPDATE

Debris from and encampment area along Pine above I-5

Monday afternoon’s meeting of the full Seattle City Council could be a doozy. Kshama Sawant’s resolution to send back Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nomination of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department will be a rare public flare-up in the debate by city leaders about how best to respond to Seattle’s ongoing, seemingly not improving homelessness crisis.

The resolution lays out two issues: 1) It declares that the council will not take action on an HSD Director nomination — Johnson or otherwise — until the Mayor’s Office completes “a formal search process that comports with the goals and priorities of the City’s Race and social Justice Initiative.” And 2), It lays down requirements for the search committee that the Mayor should convene, including representatives from non-profit human services providers, individuals experiencing homelessness, other clients of HSD, and HSD employees.

UPDATE 4:10 PM: In a 5-3 vote, the council rejected Sawant’s resolution. Mike O’Brien and Teresa Mosqueda, both saying they would like to see more transparency in the selection process, joined Sawant in support of the resolution. SCC Insight reports that the question now is how to move forward on the selection and says that Mosqueda has a plan that would “clarify expectations on the Mayor for the search process for department head nominations” that could be the compromise the situation needs. Continue reading

Sawant says Seattle’s emergency shelters should remain open — UPDATE

A tent served as shelter on Broadway during the snow (Image: CHS)

Kshama Sawant, the Seattle City Council member representing District 3, says the city is set to close its emergency cold weather shelters Monday and called on Mayor Jenny Durkan to keep the facilities open.

“While the weather emergency has passed, the homelessness emergency continues,” Sawant writes in her letter to the mayor calling for the shelter space to remain available. “An ever-growing number of people in Seattle is being driven into homelessness by sky-high rents, evictions, and unaffordable housing. Human Service providers and workers do the best they can with resources chronically insufficient to the scale of the crisis.”

UPDATE: A representative for the city’s Human Services Department tells CHS that the “City’s plan has never been to close all its shelters on Tuesday.”

Wanted you to know that after the Human Service Depart made Its initial extension last Monday, we’ve been working with providers and the City departments who are running the 24/7 emergency shelters to keep them open longer. As you may know, we’re hosting a resource fair at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall to connect people with services and resources so they can transition from emergency shelter City into the city or county’s ongoing shelter system, diversion or housing programs.

The rep said the city will have “more to share soon about the extensions.”

Continue reading

Seattle’s homelessness response is lacking — Here is some of what is broken

With reporting by SCC Insight

Last week, the Seattle City Auditor released its review of the city’s homelessness response related to early outreach, hygiene services, and evaluation. The report was critical of the city’s execution on all three.

“The City does not currently use a robust systematic approach for managing homeless outreach field operations, which involve nine nonprofit organizations, multiple City agencies, and King County,” the report reads. “Outreach providers, including the Navigation Team, need direct access to diversion resources to better serve newly unsheltered individuals, and the Human Service’s Department’s December 2018 diversion guidelines represent a significant positive step.”

The report is part of an ongoing evaluation of the city’s response to the crisis and comes as Kshama Sawant has moved to block Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nomination of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department in a battle over how the city manages its homelessness resources. It also comes as Capitol Hill’s business community awaits progress at City Hall on an agreement about how money from the neighborhood’s chamber of commerce will be spent to power a homelessness outreach effort here on Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Officials: Call 2-1-1 to help people find shelter from cold and ice

Outreach teams from King County and the City of Seattle are on patrol around downtown and parts of Capitol Hill to help people on the streets get out of the cold. You can help by dialing 2-1-1.

The King County Emergency Services Patrol, funded by the county and the city, is “operating 24/7 during the weekend to help people who are living on the streets in downtown Seattle” and “out meeting with people who are experiencing homelessness to encourage them to come inside during the winter storm.”

But you can also help out by calling 2-1-1 to let the outreach teams know about somebody who may need help.

You can also call 9-1-1 but reports from some callers say that the emergency dispatchers haven’t treated the shelter shuttle calls as priorities.

The county and the city have increased available shelters and warming facilities through the recent storms and into next week. A roster of severe weather shelters is here.


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