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After encampment backlash, mayor rolls out ‘Interim Action Plan’ on Seattle homelessness

It doesn't cost anything to keep your convictions

In the wake of intense backlash against proposals from the Seattle City Council earlier this month, Mayor Ed Murray took a quieter route to officially unveil his plan to change how the city sweeps encampments and what can be done in coming months to address homelessness in Seattle. In a late Friday announcement, the mayor said he remains committed to a long range overhaul of Seattle’s homelessness resources under his “Pathways Home” strategy but that short-term solutions are also needed.

“Pathways Home remains our long-term plan to transform the way the City invests in programs to address homelessness,” Murray said in the announcement sent to media headed into the weekend. “Today’s announcement, however, recognizes our need to bridge the gap as we still have over 3,000 people living unsheltered on our streets. We need to ensure we are providing safer alternatives for those living on our streets, increasing our outreach efforts, focusing on a more compassionate set of protocols when clean cleanups are necessary and offering trash and needle pickup services to address public health and safety issues.”

The interim plan, included in full at the bottom of this post, will include four new sanctioned encampments boosted by $900,000 in funding plus a new Seattle Navigation Center “to bring adults living outdoors into the Center and work to transition them to stable housing within 30 days.” Two of the sanctioned encampments will be Representatives from Murray’s office have said details on the locations of the encampments and the center will be released in the coming weeks.

According to the plan released Friday, the providers that will operate the center will be named in November 2016. The facility is planned to open by early January 2017. The first of the “authorized encampment spaces” will open by December 2016. The four new encampments are expected to have space for approximately 200 individuals. Two of the new encampments are planned to have “a low-barrier design,” meaning the site “will accept people who are suffering from chronic substance abuse disorders or other behavioral disorders.”

Earlier, Murray said unsanctioned encampments will be prohibited on sidewalks, and in parks, on school grounds, and other locations deemed to be “unsafe.” In most instances, the city would not sweep unauthorized encampments unless there is “a reasonable alternative place to go.” However, in some of the most serious situations, the city could remove people without having to offer alternative housing or encampment locations.

Under the interim plan, homeless outreach will also be more than doubled, including a new Seattle Police “engagement team.” Seattle Parks and Recreation will make community center restrooms and shower facilities available to the public free-of-charge.

Another $1 million will be made available for the Seattle Human Services Department to partner with organizations to create additional indoor shelter and storage capacity. The plan also includes actions for dealing with hazardous materials. Starting in November, the City will provide needle pickup within 24 hours of a report, seven days a week and will install at least 10 new safe sharps disposal boxes across the city to make it easier for people to safely dispose of needles. There will also be an increase in garbage removal services to include better solutions for garbage related to encampments.

While many of the plan’s elements are already in motion, others will require changes to the city’s spending as the new budget is pounded out. CHS reported last week on pushback from the City Council against some of Murray’s prosed budget shuffling and cuts including a proposed cutback on the city’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.

The full “Interim Action Plan” is below.

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9 thoughts on “After encampment backlash, mayor rolls out ‘Interim Action Plan’ on Seattle homelessness

  1. That will attract the homeless from all across the country. It that was your goal, well done!

    “Another $1 million will be made available for the Seattle Human Services Department to partner with organizations to create additional indoor shelter and storage capacity.”

    Why not just book rooms at the Hilton? With tax wavers over 30 days, it’s less expensive and there is no need to create jobs for all your friends in new departments.

    • Since I’m not socialist, that’s a meaningless question. There is no solution to homelessness or being poor. What needs to stop is attracting the people that only come here to take advantage of the programs to continue their way of life. The people that actually improve their lives from these programs are the ones running the foundations.
      Where you here in the late 80’s? I was. In fact I was homeless and staying in the Lutheran Compass Center. I didn’t want to be there so I got a minimum wage job the day I showed up in Downtown and worked hard to get out of there. I didn’t even know about the shelter originally. I went to the police station and asked if I could sleep in an empty cell at night. They passed the hat around and took me to the shelter.
      My point is this; it’s up to the individual to get off the streets or they never will.

  2. nyetneetot, since you can put together a sentence, you at least have an average IQ. What about those who are born with way below average ones? They don’t solve problems the way an average person does. They don’t even know where to begin.

    If everyone has your attitude, the shelter wouldn’t have existed for you to stay at.

    • There are far more opportunists being attracted to the city by these programs than there are disabled roaming the streets.

      Look at the policies the city has adopted with cars as an example to discourage a particular behavior (and drive consumers and businesses to Bellevue).

      I assert that if you remove the opportunists, we will have an overage of resources available for disabled that usually not on the streets in the first place.

    • @erf

      you seem to have a lot of assumptions to put out there but do you have any studies or facts to back up your claims? no doubt there are people just looking to game the system (as there are in any system) but “far more” than those who legitimately need help? please point me to the research that bears this out.

      also, how do you propose to “remove the opportunists”? is there a test that can be administered to determine who the opportunists are and who are legitimately homeless?

      i’m not saying that murray’s proposal is the best (or even adequate) but rhetoric like yours is only going to muddy the waters and won’t help with a solution. i think we need more facts and less feelings.

  3. Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council should utilize churches, mosques, temples, and shrines and their resources to shelter, heal and feed the less fortunate. Our society needs these properties and personnel to help solve these societal woes. We won’t do it alone. This problem is global and America’s positioned to end the era of poverty and homelessness that pervades everywhere. Seattle could be a leader in fighting poverty and a leader in finding a solution. Need a place to live? Ask the churches, mosques, temples and shrines to lend a hand. Everything is voluntary.

    • Seattle could provide FEMA tents and an address to families camping (temporarily) at churches and much needed stability for all individuals involved. Small business grants for remodel of existing structures to provide kitchens and wash facilities. Grants for mental health workshops. No more camping in the “Jungle”. Camping at approved and sanctioned spaces. Once individuals have an address, progress toward individual growth, healing and return to normalcy will commence. Think of the children first.

  4. My church is hosting homeless families tonight as a matter of fact. Many people are trying to help and I can assure you that many churches are on the front lines.