With firefighters and social workers, not cops, Seattle expands Health One to respond to homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues

(Image: City of Seattle)

After more than a year providing aid for homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues across downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill, Seattle Fire’s Health One is adding a second unit to expand its reach across new parts of the city.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and SFD Chief Harold Scoggins announced the expansion of the innovative program Tuesday.

“Seattle has pioneered community safety initiatives like Health One. As we continue to reimagine public safety, we will expand civilian public safety alternatives like Health One that sends a firefighter and social worker to a 9-1-1 call,” Durkan said. Continue reading

Seattle Counseling Service — ‘oldest LGBTQ-focused community mental health agency in the world’ — finds new home off Capitol Hill

The last moving day at SCS was 16 years ago (Image: Seattle Counseling Services)

By Lena Mercer

For 51 years, Seattle Counseling Service has been an integral part of the city’s LGBTQ+ community providing mental health and general wellness services. That has meant being part of the Capitol Hill community, too.  In the early 2000s, SCS moved into the Melrose Pine building at 1216 Pine. In the middle of a pandemic crisis, the organization has now completed a move to a larger location off the Hill that will allow it to expand its services and provide help to more people in Seattle.

“Expansion was the main factor, being able to provide, and evolve as the needs of the community expanded as well,” SCS’s Al Guerra said.

But their new home for “the oldest LGBTQ-focused community mental health agency in the world” in the Sixth & Lenora Building also represents yet another clear sign that Seattle’s LGBTQ communities are spread far beyond Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Helping lead the push for early childhood development, Perigee Fund makes home on E Pike

(Image: Perigee Fund)

There’s something new on your walk down E Pike that is not a restaurant or bar. And the work inside — with a view of all the good and the bad of the city streets of Pike/Pine — is helping advocates fight for more resources for early child development.

Executive director Becca Graves calls it upstream mental health.

“You can’t get more upstream than working prenatally,” she said.

The offices of the Perigee Fund are now resident on the street level of the auto row-era Greenus Building. The space formerly home to an upscale furniture store and interior boutique is now being used to plan a national philanthropic effort launched in 2018 to help advance work related to early childhood mental health and perinatal mental health. Continue reading

District 3 candidates face off on Seattle’s mental health issues — sort of

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant and seven other council candidates from across the city met Tuesday night to discuss mental health and its connections to housing, the criminal justice system, and other issues.

Several candidates did not participate, including District 3 challenger Egan Orion, who told CHS in a text message, “I never saw an invite for it.” The forum was hosted by the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness at the 2100 Building in South Seattle. Forum organizers had told CHS both D3 candidates were expected to attend.

UPDATE 9/5/19: Not to make a mountain out of a molehill on this but it’s taken us a few days to clear up what happened with candidate Orion’s invitation to the forum. NAMI representatives want it made clear they definitely invited the candidate and that his campaign had responded:

His claim that he was “never notified” of this forum is something we must take seriously at NAMI Seattle. As a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan organization, NAMI Seattle is required to provide equal access to all candidates regarding invitations and access to any forum materials. Failure to do so can risk our nonprofit status, and we performed our due diligence to comply by calling and emailing all candidates in all districts.

Orion’s campaign manager Olga Laskin provided a statement today acknowledging that any mix-up was the campaign’s issue:

We had some confusion on the campaign side with scheduling for this event. We apologize for the confusion and did not mean to imply any bias on the part of NAMI. We appreciate NAMI’s effort in organizing this event and regret that Egan was unable to attend.

Original report: Sawant focused often on her usual call to tax big business; in this case, to fund programs related to mental health issues and building a social movement.

“If you vote for progressive council members and you become part of the movement, then we can bring a massive expansion of permanent supportive housing that can be funded by taxing big business, but for that we need political will on the council,” she said. Sawant often pointed to the dichotomy in many of the races between candidates with ideas similar to her and more moderate contestants, like Orion, who has been endorsed by the business-friendly Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of CommerceContinue reading

Cheer up: Depressed Cake Shop returns to Capitol Hill

This weekend’s forecast calls for sunny skies but the frosting will be grey as the Depressed Cake Shop returns to Capitol Hill for the sixth year of the pop-up baked goods event created to encourage conversation about mental-health issues and to raise funds for NAMI Seattle:

Depressed Cake Shop

The local effort from the National Alliance on Mental Illness is a one-day, three-hour bake sale with somberly colored cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and treats donated by local bakers. “While they look sad on the outside, all the baked goods are colored on the inside to symbolize hope,” organizers say. They also encourage you to stop by early — the treats sell out every year.

Rising anxiety has made mental health a Capitol Hill area growth industry

Newly opened businesses in the area around Capitol Hill and the Central District might give an indication of one of the growing needs of a booming population.

Mental health care providers have brought their practices to the area to meet the exceeding demand for centrally located counseling services. In 2017, CHS noticed that the City of Seattle recorded counseling offices to be the second highest number of new businesses in District 3.

“I was busy immediately and had as many referrals I could take from the get go,” said psychotherapist Lisa Hake, LMHC GMHS, who moved her practice from Bellevue to Madrona last year.

To be a licensed mental health care practitioner, providers must have a minimum education of masters degree and meet Washington’s licensing requirements. Reported lowered barriers to access and decreased stigmatization has led to overall industry growth, while the rise in business locally is attributed by many we spoke with to a widespread increase of anxiety, spurred by our current socioeconomic and political landscape. “You can’t say to people that this is a safe place anymore, the world. It really wasn’t before, but it’s obvious now that it’s no longer true,” said Jason Franklin, LMHC in Madison Valley. Franklin primarily works with intersectionality. Continue reading

Broadway businesses will pay to keep homeless outreach team in place

Money is running out on a program to provide outreach workers to help with problems around homelessness and addiction on Capitol Hill. A business group is stepping up to foot the bill — for now. (Image: CHS)

Broadway businesses are banding together to keep what they say is a vital service –Outreach workers on the streets of Capitol Hill talking with people suffering a mental health crisis or struggling with homelessness — in place as City Hall funding for the program comes to an end.

But as it finds a new way to pay for the service, the Broadway group may also need to find a new organization to provide the outreach workers.

For the past two years, the Broadway Business Improvement Area has contracted with downtown’s Metropolitan Improvement District to staff a crew of outreach workers who can help handle the day to day crises of homelessness, mental health, and addiction that arise along Broadway. The money to expand the effort from downtown to Capitol Hill came from then-Mayor Ed Murray’s office after some creative budgeting moved existing funding into place to support the outreach workers. The effort followed promises made in the wake of a shooting at Broadway and Pike to bring more services to Pike/Pine to help free up East Precinct officers who found themselves on the front lines of Seattle’s homelessness crisis.

But, by the end of March, the Broadway BIA will now be footing the bill to support the outreach through the end of 2018. 2019? Part of that will likely be decided by how the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce’s campaign to expand the BIA across the entire Hill is working out. Continue reading

Seattle sorting out how to pay for expansion of drug diversion program beyond Capitol Hill

Transitioning the emphasis from arrest to treatment and services when it comes to addiction, mental illness, and homelessness is slowly changing policing and the city’s connections to its streets in downtown and parts of Capitol Hill. The hopes to expand Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion to the rest of the East Precinct now hinges on the process underway at City Hall to shape Seattle’s 2018 budget.

Tracy Gillespie, who handles LEAD’s East Precinct referrals, and LEAD’s operations advisor Najja Morris said the program’s biggest hurdle is funding, year after year. The program needs more case managers. Their hope is to expand throughout Seattle by 2019, which Morris said would require around $4 million. Right now, LEAD is lined up for $1 million out of the city budget.

The program has been working in Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct — Capitol Hill, the Central District, and Little Saigon — since last year. But it’s been Capitol Hill centric because the program rolled out to SPD’s bicycle officers, who focus on the Hill, and not patrol officers in cars. Now, LEAD is working toward CD and Saigon expansion.

“It’s been really great to see a different demographic come into the program,” said Gillespie. “They tend to be younger, but a lot of them have aged out of the teen and young adult services, so they’re in between being a young person and being an adult.”

But there is uncertainty about how much funding will be available for the initiative in coming years. Continue reading

Design board looks at First Hill Apartments, Central District Community House project

The First Hill Apartments project set to rise above Union

The First Hill Apartments project set to rise above Union

The East Design Review Board Wednesday night will take up one project set to create new First Hill neighbors for the city’s first pavement park. Meanwhile, an important social services organization is set to begin the design process to create an important new facility in the Central District — and with it, 52 affordable places to live for its clients.

First Hill Apartments — 1320 University
It’s hard to believe the project name First Hill Apartments wasn’t already snatched up. But there you go. Once this University St, just off Broadway development is complete, the name will be off the board.

The planned seven-story, 36-unit building with around 5,000 square feet of commercial space is envisioned as having a “transparent and porous” street-level retail component that features “an integrated design between the building, sidewalk, and park, blurring the public and private areas,” following the design board’s guidance in the sessions first go round in March. Continue reading

#manintree: new to city, homeless on Capitol Hill

Sofa King Chill!! ??? #manintree #beforetheywerefamous

A photo posted by @jimberwolf on

The #manintree is a relatively new Seattle transplant who recently appeared in the Capitol Hill homeless and street community, CHS has been told.

For 24 hours, Cody, the 28-year-old man who suddenly climbed an 80-foot sequoia tree in downtown Seattle Tuesday caught the attention of the city — and beyond — until nearly as suddenly climbing back to the earth, sitting down, and eating a pear before being taken into custody Wednesday morning.

CHS is not identifying the man beyond his first name that was used by negotiators at the scene and was shouted by some in the crowds that formed to watch and said they knew him.

Cody was taken to Harborview for evaluation following the long standoff that closed streets in the area and snarled traffic. Police Wednesday said they had one previous contact with him. He was not charged in the previous incident and has no other criminal record in the area. His most recent run-ins with the law in Oregon earlier this year were related to parole violations, according to court records.

SPD spokesperson Patrick Michaud said the man was not facing any charges shortly after the Seattle tree incident ended.

“We’re more concerned about getting him the mental health (treatment) that he needs,” he said.

UPDATE 10:25 PM: A male with the same name as #manintree has been booked into King County Jail for investigation of malicious mischief. He has not yet been charged. He remains jailed.

UPDATE 3/24/16 1:50 PM: According to SPD, the Tuesday morning climb began with a report of a man up a tree who hit someone below with a thrown apple. Police say the same man had a run-in with police last Saturday the 19th on Capitol Hill:

While on patrol we contacted an unidentified male subject for violation of the Sit and Lie Ordnance. The subject was sitting on the sidewalk with his legs crossed in front of a Starbucks located at 8 East Pike Street. I contacted the male and identified myself as a Seattle Police Officer and advised him about the ordinance he was in violation. I asked the subject for identification. The subject initially refused and began to rant about being harassed and his constitutional rights being violated. I took the time to explain to the subject of the sit and lie ordinance and the process that would occur once he provides his identification which would lead to a written warning for sit and lie ordinance or an infraction. The subject stated he didn’t have a form of identification so instead he verbally identified himself. The subject stated his first name was Edward and last name was Cullen. The subject spelt his last name for me. I performed a check on Edward Cullen but couldn’t find a record despite the subject stating he had Washington State Identification.

Edward Cullen is the name of the vampire founder of the “Olympic coven” in the Twilight series.

“I informed the subject of the discrepancy at which time the subject became agitated and began ranting about being harassed and wanting to leave,” the responding officer in the Saturday morning incident writes. “I explained to the subject that he is delaying his ability to walk away by his ranting about the United States of America’s Bill of Rights.”

The man was arrested but eventually after he provided his real name. In the report, the officer claims the man admitted having suicidal thoughts when he was arrested.

UPDATE 3/28/2016 11 AM: The 28-year-old refused to leave his cell for a bond hearing last week and has yet to be charged in the incident. He remains held in King County Jail.