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Seattle adds to Navigation Team as it expands homeless outreach efforts

Seattle police officers Wes Phillips, left, and Tori Newborn talk with Corvin Dobschutz as part of Seattle’s Navigation Team. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says the city will add four additional members to its homeless outreach team, allowing it to function seven days a week.

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The city’s Navigation Team is designed to extend a helping hand to Seattle’s homeless, remove encampments deemed unsafe, and connect the unsheltered with resources for housing.

The new hires expand the Navigation Team to 38 total members, 16 more than it had when Durkan took office in 2017.

“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 a news release.

The city hired three new members of the Navigation Team back in April, as part of a $244,000 expansion initiative.

Seattle also completed an RFQ process last month to local service providers. It selected Evergreen Treatment Services (specifically its Reach program) to provide three new outreach personnel to work with the city’s homeless community, become a point of contact, and assist with getting people off the street and into housing.

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In total, the city already contracts with nine such service providers in various parts of the city, and for various populations. April’s new outreach workers could be considered a 10th effort on the part of the city, but the city is already using Reach with Seattle’s Navigation Team.

“I welcome the new outreach workers … to join the Navigation Team,” Human Services interim Director Jason Johnson said Friday. “These investments are impactful, providing direct support to people living unsheltered by expanding our ability to offer services and shelter referrals seven days a week. Every time the Navigation Team is out in the field, we have the opportunity to engage more people and offer critical lifesaving services.”

To aid in the Nav Team’s efforts, the state Legislature gave the city an additional $1 million in April for clearing garbage and “hazardous materials.”

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