‘WE HAVE EACH OTHER – WE NEED EACH OTHER’ — A Will and A Way uplifts unhoused community on Capitol Hill through mutual aid

Seattle’s homelessness crisis continues and government efforts come and go — here is one very small example of a different approach that moves outside City Hall’s response to the crisis. Forming in small community efforts nationwide during Black Lives Matter and anti-police protests of recent years, mutual aid organizations use donations to provide marginalized groups with resources such as food and medical care. One busy here is A Will and A Way, a Capitol Hill-based organization that seeks to uplift and support the local unhoused community.

A Will and A Way formed from a group of local protest medics who provided care to participants in a number of local demonstrations, that has since branched out and began to offer support services over the year and a half it has been on the Hill, a member of A Will and A Way tells CHS.

“We started to see how much the police brutality was also affecting the unhoused community, and so as the protests started to die down, we shifted into providing medical aid to the unhoused community,” the member said.

The member CHS spoke with chose to remain anonymous in order to avoid putting themselves in the spotlight above other members in the group — reflecting the horizontal organization of A Will and A Way. Continue reading

Seattle’s Public Defender Association-led shelter program might help slow its homelessness crisis — if someone will pay for it

(Image: JustCARE)

By Hannah Saunders

As the effort to address the homelessness crisis across Seattle and around Puget Sound shifts to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, funding for the the Public Defender Association-led JustCARE shelter program will continue.

“JustCARE entails both a field-based engagement and intake strategy, and then it wouldn’t mean anything to do the work that we do if we didn’t have places for people to go that meet the needs of many of the folks who have historically been rebuffed by the sheltering system,” said Lisa Daugaard, director of JustCARE.

The authority included funding from federal and local sources to extend the JustCARE program but officials are still working out how — and if — there is a way to come up with the $10 million a year the program needs to continue.

JustCARE focuses on those who have been exposed to police enforcement and prosecution relating to behavioral health issues or poverty, which Daugaard believes would be better addressed through care, case management, and support.

Daugaard explained how since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has seen sudden displacement of Seattle residents onto the city’s streets. She described how at the start of 2020, jails ceased booking people and police officers were instructed—for their personal health and safety—to not make contact unless during a high priority situation.

Meanwhile, restrictions closed numerous homeless shelters operating in Seattle, as well as public spaces such as community centers and libraries. Continue reading

Capitol Hill ‘mini park’ to be cleared amid Seattle’s continued, smaller homeless encampment sweeps

Thanks to a CHS reader for the picture from the mini park

The pace of Seattle homeless encampment sweeps has picked up under Mayor Bruce Harrell’s administration including clearances of small camps sometimes nearly as quickly as they take shape. The new pace will bring a clearance this week of one Capitol Hill encampment apparently formed by an individual camper at the Thomas Street Mini Park.

The latest clearance has been announced for the area around the 300 block Bellevue Ave E park on Thursday morning where city workers and outreach contractors are planned to be on scene to provide assistance and clear away any remaining belongings and debris.

“The City is addressing this encampment as it impedes access to the park and open space for neighboring communities,” a Seattle Parks spokesperson tells CHS about the planned clearance.

It isn’t the first time in the current pandemic wave of Seattle’s homelessness crisis that the park has been swept — CHS reported here on a clearance last September — but the small camp targeted for clearance this time is indicative of the increased and more rapidly deployed resources for removing encampments from public spaces under the Harrell administration as COVID-19 restrictions fade. Continue reading

‘House Our Neighbors!’ — Seattle voters could decide on creation of ‘social housing’ developer

A recent design proposal for a market-rate development on 12th Ave neighboring the affordable Community Roots Housing 12th Ave Arts building on Capitol Hill (Image: Runberg Architects)

As homelessness continues to rise and the city’s affordability crisis drags on, voters this fall could approve the creation of a new public developer “to build, acquire, own, and manage social housing” in Seattle.

Backers of the House Our Neighbors! coalition have announced a proposed ballot initiative that would establish a developer to create more rental housing options in the city, powered by public funding, and protected from free market influences, and city and county restrictions.

The initiative will require around 30,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot with plans for a vote on the proposal this fall.

Unlike the existing Seattle Housing Authority which typically serves only low-income residents, backers of the House Our Neighbors proposal say the new authority would be free of federal constraints on income levels and could be made available to renters with earnings ranging from 0% to 120% of area median income to help create a diverse pool of tenants across the authority’s properties. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Community Post | Executive Constantine and Clean the World launch mobile shower for people experiencing homelessness in King County

From King County

King County launched the mobile shower at several locations across the region to support basic hygiene needs for people experiencing homelessness. The mobile shower, purchased with American Rescue Plan funds, is part of key strategic initiatives laid out last year to support people experiencing homelessness. This program brings clean water, soap, and washing facilities that reduces the risk of infection and illness like COVID-19. Currently, the mobile shower visits sites in North Seattle, downtown Seattle, South Seattle, and South King County. The program is slated to expand locations throughout the year. Continue reading

Where the people from the Seven Hills Park sweep went

The City of Seattle says most of the eight people still living in tents at the park found space at a temporary shelter facility. Some remain living outside. The Seven Hills Park encampment has been cleared.

Thursday morning, nine or ten city workers entered the 16th and Howell park to begin dismantling tents and collect discarded items left behind from the sweep. Volunteers were on hand to help some of the people move their belongings. One person in a tent was having a difficult time waking up and a community volunteer stopped in with her to help.

CHS reported here on plans for the sweep of the encampment that formed after months of complaints from nearby housed neighbors as a flashpoint in Mayor Bruce Harrell’s efforts to step up clearance and shelter outreach work in the city.

The city’s HOPE Team that leads outreach efforts has hundreds of “set-aside” shelter resources “that can be prioritized for individuals residing in priority encampments that may be subject to a removal,” a city official told CHS on the day of the sweep. These set-aside beds represent about 30% of the city funded shelter system. Continue reading

Big givers launch $10M Partnership for Zero ‘to Dramatically Reduce Unsheltered Homelessness in Downtown Seattle’

UPDATE: Capitol Hill’s Seven Hills Park was swept of an encampment Thursday morning

Connie and Steve Ballmer (Image: The Ballmer Group)

Mayor Bruce Harrell has repeatedly said that charitable giving from the private sector and not new taxes should be part of Seattle’s strategy to combat homelessness.

Thursday, Harrell was set to join a cadre of officials and representatives from the giving wings of some of the wealthiest individuals and corporations in the region to announce a new $10 million package of philanthropic giving to power “peer navigators, flexible funding, a command center and data” in an effort to to “dramatically reduce unsheltered homelessness in downtown Seattle.”

It is a relatively small beginning hoped to boost the King County Regional Homelessness Authority — especially considering the major list of donors.

The Partnership for Zero will coordinate some $10 million in funding from “major businesses and philanthropies in King County that have formed the We Are In homelessness charity effort led by the Ballmer Group, and including Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Campion Foundation, Costco, Expedia Group, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, JP Morgan Chase Pacific Northwest, Kaiser Permanente Washington, Madrona Venture Group, Microsoft Philanthropies, Nordstrom, PATH, Puget Sound Energy, Raikes Foundation, REI, Russell Investments, Schultz Family Foundation, Seattle Foundation, Starbucks, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Symetra, T-Mobile, Weyerhaeuser, and Zillow Group.

“The King County Regional Homelessness Authority is an incredible asset to our region, helping to design a stronger, more coordinated county-wide response to a humanitarian crisis. We and the philanthropic community are pleased to be able to provide bridge funding to support the Authority to quickly launch Partnership for Zero, a proven approach to substantially reduce homelessness,” Connie Ballmer, co-founder of Ballmer Group Philanthropy, the “lead funder of Partnership for Zero” said in the announcement. Continue reading

Suddenly a flashpoint in mayor’s new response to Seattle homelessness, Capitol Hill’s Seven Hills Park to be cleared of encampment Thursday — UPDATE

Groups of residents and protesters awaited a Friday night tour of Seven Hills planned with city officials. Public safety director Andrew Myerberg met privately with a smaller group, instead.

The notices went up Tuesday at the park. Thanks to a neighbor for the picture.

The city has posted notice that Capitol Hill’s Seven Hills Park will be cleared of tents and belongings Thursday as Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office says it is responding to concerns following months of complaints from neighbors about tents and disorder in the 16th Ave at E Howell park.

Officials say they requested “that outreach efforts at Seven Hills Park intensify” in advance of the Thursday sweep.

“At the beginning of this week, city staff observed 12 tents, and outreach has identified eight individuals residing at this location long-term,” a Seattle Parks spokesperson said.

Officials say the effort had resulted in two referrals to “24/7 enhanced shelter” — “outreach is ongoing and those remaining onsite will all receive offers of shelter prior to an encampment removal,” the spokesperson said.

UPDATE 2/17/2022 9:30 AM: The clearance is underway:

The sweep follows months of complaints from residents in nearby buildings about camping in the park that began at the height of the pandemic with the number of tents ebbing and flowing along with clearances at other nearby parks spaces including Cal Anderson, Williams Place, and Miller Playfield. Continue reading

‘Scheduled removal’ planned for encampments at Capitol Hill’s Seven Hills Park — UPDATE: No show

UPDATE 6:45 PM: A crowd awaited the park tour but the mayor’s office was a no show. We’re checking in to find out more about the situation.

Neighbors credit KOMO reporting with getting the mayor’s attention

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s director of public safety will be among officials joining area residents Friday night for a tour of Seven Hills Park as the city says it is preparing for a “scheduled removal” of tents, belongings, and accumulated refuse from the park atop Capitol Hill.

“The Harrell administration is committed to meeting with communities across the city to learn firsthand about the issues facing Seattle neighborhoods,” mayor’s office spokesperson Jamie Housen tells CHS but did not offer more information on the timing of the tour.

UPDATE 6:45 PM: There was no tour — or, at least, none that CHS or the crowds that assembled at the park around 5:30 PM saw. We’re asking Housen for more information.

A Seattle Parks spokesperson confirmed that a clearance is being planned and said city outreach workers will be increasing their efforts around the park before any sweep. Continue reading

Welcome, neighbors: New apartment building — one of three market-rate developments acquired for affordable housing — opens for homeless young adults on Capitol Hill

LIHI volunteers helping to assemble furniture for the new apartments (Image: LIHI)

A design rendering of 506 10th Ave E

Dozens of new neighbors are moving in just off Broadway.

The Low Income Housing Institute announced its 10th Ave E building, one of three under construction, market-rate Capitol Hill developments purchased last year by the city for affordable housing, has opened for leasing as “Permanent Supportive Housing” and began welcoming its first residents as February began.

“Buying a newly constructed building saved precious time during the pandemic to stand up critically needed PSH housing for homeless people,” LIHI executive director Sharon Lee said in a statement.

“We did not have to search for land, securing financing and wait for permits and construction to get completed. We saved three or more years,” Lee said.

Residents of the 10th Ave E building include people transitioning out of tiny houses, homeless young adults referred from the Seattle Indian Center, ROOTS, YouthCare, Urban League, REACH, and other agencies, and people exiting the Executive Pacific Hotel, one of two city-leased hotels utilized last year as a “shelter surge” effort to move more people out of encampments during the pandemic. The Executive Pacific shelter effort was slated to end last month.

LIHI said it was able to open the building thanks to a last minute push from volunteers coming in to help with finishing touches including assembling furniture for the building’s 36 studio units. Continue reading