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.


SUBSCRIBE TO CHS If you appreciate and value CHS coverage, please tell your friends and neighbors TODAY to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment. Why support CHS? More here.


Sawant wants City Council to reject Durkan pick to lead Seattle’s homelessness response

With reporting from SCC Insight

As promised — and if the snow doesn’t cancel the afternoon session — Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant will be formally introducing a resolution on Monday to send back Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nomination of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department.

The resolution says two things:

  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.” Johnson has served as interim Director of HSD since last May, and the Mayor has said that she nominated him to serve as permanent Director based upon his performance in that role, rather than conduct a formal search. Continue reading

Last year’s most important Capitol Hill story? 8,600 homeless in Seattle

To end 2018, CHS pored through its year of Capitol Hill news coverage to look at the stories that made the biggest impact in and around the neighborhood. CHS Year in Review 2018 | Capitol Hill’s 23 most important stories is here. As part of the tally, we asked readers to vote on which stories they felt were the most important. As we jump fully into a new year of reporting — CHS’s 13th year of coverage — here are the results.

  1. May 31, 20182018 count shows 8,600 people homeless in Seattle
  2. June 12, 2018Good news, Amazon, Seattle won’t be taxing you after all
  3. June 20, 2018: With a snip of a ribbon, two years of construction starts on Capitol Hill Station development
  4. August 2, 2018Sexual misconduct and rape accusations force Meinert to sell stake in Lost Lake and the Comet
  5. June 30, 2018Eyewitnesses: Capitol Hill’s mystery soda machine has disappeared

You can check out the full 2018 review here and see the most read and most commented stories here.

 

City Council begins work to address Seattle’s eviction problem

86.5% of eviction filings in the study were for nonpayment — more than half of those were for one month or less of unpaid rent (Source: Losing Home report)

Last year, a study of Seattle evictions showed disproportionate impacts to women and Black renters in the city and how evictions are tied to rising levels of homelessness and housing insecurity. In the first step toward working on legislation to address problems around evictions, the Seattle City Council is working on a new Eviction Prevention Resolution hoped to be introduced later this month.

“”I think the way we’ve structured this resolution is to be less focused on the identification of particular solutions, but instead working from the Losing Home report lifting up their identification of the problems and laying out a timeline for the council to work on identifying the solutions necessary to address those problems,” Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development, and Arts Committee chair Lisa Herbold said Tuesday in a discussion of an early draft of the resolution, below. Continue reading

Harborview Hall finally put back to use as homeless shelter set to open

Attendees at last week’s information session on the reopening of Harborview Hall

Two years after the allocation of funding, the Harborview Hall shelter is targeting a December 15th opening, providing 100 beds for people experiencing homelessness to stay overnight.

Representatives from The Salvation Army and King County, which owns the property, met with dozens of community members, many of whom were Harborview Medical Center employees, last week in an open house on the hospital’s campus to discuss the opening of the shelter.

The Salvation Army will be operating the temporary overnight shelter, located at 326 9th Avenue on the first floor of Harborview Hall, which has been vacant since 2011. There will be a minimum of four staff members inside the facility while it’s open, according to The Salvation Army’s offsite shelter programs director Scott Moorhouse. Continue reading

Seattle’s $5.9B budget is set: more SPD and firefighters, Navigation Team expansion amid tighter belts at City Hall

Seattle City Hall (Image: Seattle.gov)

The City Council Monday finalized its efforts to fill in a few blanks in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2019-2020 Seattle budget, her administration’s first budget and, most likely, one of the few municipal $5.9 billion budgets in the world to get slapped with the “austerity” label.

“The goals of inclusion and economic opportunity have guided us for these past 12 months, and this approved budget invests in these promises and commitments and shows we can live within our means,” Durkan said in a statement following Monday’s 8-1 votes approving the 2019 and 2020 budgets. “From giving Seattle’s young people free ORCA and a passport to their city, to urgent action on homelessness, to protecting our immigrant and refugee neighbors, we’re continuing to build a more inclusive Seattle with true economic opportunity.”

“Using this budget as our guide, we must continue to be stewards of taxpayer dollars and invest in a more affordable, inclusive and vibrant future for all who call Seattle home,” Durkan said Monday.

District 3’s Kshama Sawant, representing Capitol Hill, the Central District, and nearby neighborhoods, was the sole vote in opposition to the spending package and called the process at City Hall business as usual for the “establishment” council and mayor.” Continue reading

Final pieces of Seattle’s 2019-2020 $5.9B budget puzzle: Navigation Team funding, food banks, and red-light camera revenue

The Navigation Team during a cleanup along I-5 (Image: City of Seattle)

With reporting from Seattle City Council Insight

The march to complete Seattle’s 2019-2020 budget is proving a real slog at the top as the process now has about 95% of the plan in place after an epic nine-hour Seattle City Council meeting earlier this week that included votes on a mind-numbing 188 agenda items.

The final pushes around polishing the Durkan administration’s first budget proposal and setting Seattle’s next nearly $6 billion city budget pivot –unsurprisingly — around how to spend the small portion available out of those millions on improving the city’s approach to homelessness and affordable housing. Continue reading

Capitol Hill things to watch in Seattle budget ‘balancing package’ include homelessness outreach, ‘Community Health Engagement Location’ — UPDATE

Some big decisions were made Tuesday across the United States. Wednesday in City Council chambers will bring some big decisions for Seattle as representatives shake out the final roster of additions, tweaks, and cuts to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2019-2020 budget proposal.

Included in the “green sheet” decision day is a proposal for the money sought by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and business community to support a homeless outreach worker in the neighborhood and some spends championed by District 3 rep Kshama Sawant including a bid to add $440,000 in 2019 to help finalize a decision on a location for a “Community Health Engagement Location” — a long-sought “safe consumption” site proponents say would help address problems with addiction and health in the city.

UPDATE: The proposed balancing package has been released including good news for the Capitol Hill homelessness outreach request and progress on a Seattle “CHEL”:

Continue reading