MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle City Council approves funding for Navigation Team replacement

Oct 26, 2020, 5:14 PM

navigation team...

A homeless encampment in Ballard. (Photo: Rob Harwood)

(Photo: Rob Harwood)

The Seattle City Council has approved (7-1) a homeless outreach plan to fill the gap left open by eliminating the city’s Navigation Team.

Seattle council committee OKs SPD layoffs, cuts to Navigation Team, more

The Navigation Team ended after the council stripped funding earlier in 2020 over concerns about the Seattle Police Department’s involvement and the city’s team receiving all of the resources earmarked for homeless populations. The council argued there was nothing left for community outreach providers the city contracted with.

The bill includes $2,074,000 for behavioral health services, case management, housing navigation services, and to support technology and other administrative needs. The new outreach team will not include Seattle Police Officers and far fewer city staff.

Sponsor of the legislation, Councilmember Andrew Lewis, acknowledged that it doesn’t solve all of the city’s issues with homelessness. Lewis is chair of the Council’s Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies and Investments.

“But it is a step in the right direction to start this collaborative process of working through this with all of the principal operators in this area,” he said before the vote. “There were folks in public comment who were stating their frustration about the city, having been bogged down and really important disagreements about the future direction of what our homelessness response is going to look like. And this is the first step to all of us realizing our common interest in this and moving forward in a way that can hopefully finally bridge the divide and get people to the really critical resources that they need and that this council has appropriated money to address.”

The council passed Lewis’ legislation to fund outreach on homeless encampments for the remainder of 2020. The larger conversation on what a new team will look like will be part of the 2021 budget process, which is still ongoing.

Councilmember Tammy Morales argued that the only purpose of the legislation was to bring back a version of the former Navigation Team.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant was the lone no vote. Councilmember Debora Juarez was not present.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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