Inside Harborview Hall’s new ‘enhanced’ homeless shelter: a warm place to sleep, pets, laundry, and help around the clock

Harborview Hall’s overnight shelter now offers more than a stay in a warm place to sleep. There is now room for loyal companions, new showers and bathrooms, a place to do your laundry, and counselors are there to help people find a path off the streets. And, most importantly, the new “enhanced” shelter is now open around the clock, seven days a week to be ready for the people who require a stay when they need it most.

“For our homeless neighbors at Harborview Hall, the 24/7 facility will be their home-base as they work to improve their situation,” said Bill Dickinson of The Salvation Army in the Northwest. “They can visit the shelter throughout the day as needed – from hygiene necessities of showers and laundry, to meeting with caseworkers for guidance in transitioning to independent housing.”

Powered by a $2.2 million King County contract, the Salvation Army runs the show at the First Hill facility, using a bed reservation and referral system to fill the beds. In collaboration with neighboring Harborview Medical Center, the Salvation Army holds five beds open each night for patients who are receiving assistance from the hospital and need a shelter bed overnight. Continue reading

Sawant makes one last 2020 budget push to cut encampment sweeps team

The City Council’s final batch of proposed additions, cuts, and changes to the Seattle budget are on the table and District 3’s newly victorious incumbent Kshama Sawant is behind several of the options up for final debate.

Seattle City Council insight reports that most of the more than 40 items introduced Wednesday involve restrictions on the the use of already-budgeted funds, “provisos that prevent the expenditure of certain funds until some condition is met,” or statements of legislative intent. Continue reading

With city debating funding for encampment sweeps, business-backed homeless outreach team on Capitol Hill, First Hill and C-ID now complete

(Image: Margo Vansynghel)

“Hi there, outreach here. Anybody home?”

The outreach workers from the Evergreen Treatment Services REACH program don’t have a door to knock on, nor a doorstep to wait on, but that’s how they treat their approach to the tents scattered across a hillside near I-5 on First Hill.

Traversing the steep hill, the team goes from tent to tent, some of which shiver with the gusts of wind and rain. They hand out small packets of food (crackers and cheese) and bottles of water, ask people what they need if they can get them referred to a shelter for the night.

Standing high up on the slope, Sara Mar, the new homeless outreach coordinator for First Hill, gets a man a bus pass and a referral for shelter tonight. Yvonne Nelson, also with REACH, takes down the name of another woman who can get into an enhanced shelter tonight.  Continue reading

Seattle City Council 2020 budget tweaks include Tiny Home Villages, Capitol Hill ‘Public Life’ study, ‘mobile bathroom facilities’

The Seattle City Council unveiled its 2020 budget balancing package but further bad news about I-967 could mean another scramble before all is said and done.

Budget chair — and outgoing council member — Sally Bagshaw unveiled the package (PDF) of around 150 proposed additions and updates to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2020 budget proposal Wednesday morning. CHS reported here on Durkan’s $6.5 billion 2020 budget plan where some of the big gains — and small, too — in the proposal come from “one-time” revenue infusions from events like the Mercer Megablock sale and public benefits cash received in exchange for public right of way used in the expansion of the downtown convention center. Continue reading

Seattle Fire’s new Health One team for homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues ready to hit the streets of Capitol Hill

(Image: Seattle.gov)

Seattle has a new team of first responders on its streets starting today. Staffed with specially trained Seattle Fire Department firefighters and a civilian social worker, Health One has rolled out to help address the issues of homelessness and basic human health needs that are swamping Seattle’s emergency services.

The new pilot program will be focused on the city’s downtown core — including Capitol Hill — providing “alternatives to transporting individuals to emergency departments” and “allowing SFD units to focus on emergencies like structure fire and vehicle collisions,” the city says.

“We are taking an important step for a healthier downtown. As our city grows, our ability to deliver emergency and non-emergency responses needs to keep up. Here in Seattle, we pioneered Medic One, which became the gold standard in emergency health response and now we are pioneering Health One for non-emergency cases,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in the launch announcement Continue reading

Clean-up vs. outreach — A 2020 budget battle builds over team on frontlines of Seattle’s homelessness response

“A member of the Navigation Team checks to see if anyone is in this tent and is interested in a to-go bag of food and water provided by neighbors,” the city says of this image posted to seattle.gov. The Navigation Team is also the city’s answer to clearing illegal encampments. (Image: City of Seattle)

A Kshama Sawant budget proposal to defund the city’s crew assigned to clearing out homeless encampments has the mayor’s office firing back but the Seattle City Council still might move to cut back the team.

Sawant’s proposal discussed Thursday would move more than $8 million lined up for the homeless response Navigation Team to “redirect those funds for other homeless services.”

A competing proposal from West Seattle rep Lisa Herbold would attach quarterly performance measurements to the mayor’s funding of the program.

It is also possible additional proposals for cutting back — or growing — the Nav Team will emerge as the budget process plays out into November.

The city describes the Navigation Team as “a specially trained team comprised of outreach workers paired with Seattle Police Department (SPD) personnel.” Continue reading

Sawant $12M Tiny House Village proposal: Public hearing Thursday night

Rev. Lawrence R. Willis, True Vine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church at Tuesday’s gathering at True Hope Village (Image: @jonathan4212)

A Kshama Sawant led Seattle City Council committee will hold a public hearing Thursday night on the District 3 representative’s legislation to expand funding for Tiny House Villages and block relocation of existing villages.

The proposal would move $12 million to expand the villages at 20 locations across the city and scuttle plans to remove two existing villages in Georgetown and Northlake. But the legislation faced opposition over possible State Environmental Policy Act appeals before it was even introduced. The Hearing Examiner case to unwind the legal issues is still underway with a hearing scheduled for December — well after the upcoming General Election.

Sawant’s proposal would forge a path for the village expansion by exempting religious organizations from permitting requirements for encampments on property owned or controlled by them. Continue reading

Seattle City Council Insight: City reports on performance of homeless response programs in first half of 2019

From SCC Insight

This week, HSD Interim Director Jason Johnson delivered a report to the City Council on the performance of the city’s homeless-response programs through the first half of 2019. There was some good news.

Johnson began by reminding the Council that the goal of the city’s homelessness response is to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. To that end, he explained how the department’s programs successfully served more people in the first half of 2019:

  • HSD-funded programs prevented 461 households, representing 704 individuals, from becoming homeless, an increase of 20% over the same period in 2018.
  • 1,936 households, representing 3,042 individuals, moved from homelessness to housing, a 6% increase from the year before.
  • 2,127 unique households that have experienced chronic homelessness — often the most challenging people to help out of homelessness — remained stably housed in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), a program which pairs housing with wrap-around case management and services. According to Johnson, the city’s PSH programs have a 90% success rate in keeping people housed.

Johnson credited this to having fully ramped-up programs in place; you may recall, HSD ran an RFP in 2017 to re-bid its homeless-response contracts, and in the first half of 2018 those awardees launched programs under the new contracts. 2019 is the first time that the new awardees started the year at full capacity, so in retrospect it’s no surprise that they are performing better — but still great to see. In addition, the “rate of exit” to permanent housing from many of HSD’s programs improved over the previous year, suggesting that they are getting incrementally better at what they do. Continue reading

Firings, an employee walkout, and a row over homelessness at Capitol Hill’s Caffe Vita — UPDATE

(Image: Caffe Vita)

Two employees were fired — and another five reportedly quit in solidarity — after a disagreement over how homeless people should be treated at Caffe Vita’s flagship E Pike shop.

Liz McConnell confirmed the firings and walkout with CHS as social media efforts have spread calling out the Capitol Hill-headquartered coffee chain for firing a trans employee and criticizing a Vita manager’s message about homeless people receiving free coffee or food at its cafes.

McConnell, citing legal concerns, said she could not confirm details of the firings other than they were “with cause” and involved both a manager and en employee. She also confirmed that a Vita manager had sent the message about the free handouts being shared on social media. Continue reading

19th Ave homeless youth facility PSKS to close as Seattle City Hall pushes away from shelter funding

(Image: PSKS)

Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets, the mouthful of a name, year-round, overnight youth shelter on 19th Ave just off Madison must close before the end of the year.

“The Board of Directors of Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS) has spent the past two years investigating the best possible future for our programs serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness,” the PSKS announcement reads. “After in-depth conversations with partner service providers, the City of Seattle, and private funders, we have come to the very difficult decision that PSKS must close its doors no later than December 31.”

The Seattle Times was first to report the decision in an in-depth look at what the loss will mean for young homeless people who depend on the shelter’s 25 beds in a city cutting back on emergency shelter spending in favor of “enhanced shelters” and what city officials say will be longer term housing solutions.

“I would consider PSKS to be the canary in the coal mine,” PSKS board member and former board president Andrea Vitalich tells the Times. “Because the entire service-providing model is not sustainable.”

The decision to close the shelter comes three years after CHS reported the sale of the property by longtime owners Mount Zion Baptist Church and the few years remaining on its lease. Continue reading