Mayor Jenny Durkan’s strategy to address homelessness issues in Seattle will be increasingly focused on sweeps as the city’s team trained clean out encampments is again set to expand.
In Friday’s announcement, Durkan said Seattle’s Navigation Team will grow by four new hires to 38 employees and begin to respond to clean-up and sweep situations seven days a week.
“This crisis requires urgent action and new steps. We will continue to work for holistic solutions and do more to help bring people inside and connect them with services and housing – and we will continue to invest in the strategies we know have an impact, like enhanced shelter and our Navigation Team,” Durkan said in an announcement of the expanded team.
Durkan has overseen a near doubling in Navigation Team employees since she took office.
The growth of the team continues the mayor’s strategy after pushing for more Seattle Police and firefighters, and the Navigation Team expansion amid tighter belts at City Hall during the last $5.9 billion budget phase.
In pounding out that budget, City Council members spent many of their efforts in the “balancing package” into trying to patch holes left in Durkan’s proposals when it came to spending on emergency and more temporary shelter solutions. District 3 rep Kshama Sawant, meanwhile, and other critics targeted Durkan and the Navigation Team in their efforts to push back on the pick for a new director of Human Services, the department that oversees much of the city’s homelessness spending.
As part of her announcement Friday, Durkan also lauded the Washington State Legislature’s approval of $1 million to clear “debris, garbage, and hazardous materials, and implement safety improvements” along I-5 and I-90 through Seattle.
Beyond camp clean-ups, Capitol Hill businesses along Broadway now have more resources to help with issues around homelessness. In April, Evergreen Treatment Center’s REACH program was selected to restore homelessness outreach services for Broadway businesses with support from the city budget under an effort managed by the Broadway Business Improvement Area.
2019, meanwhile, will also see a new effort under the wing of the Seattle Fire Department that will pilot a new response team for homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues in downtown and on Capitol Hill.
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