Seattle mayor signs executive order on ‘one-stop’ homeless shelter
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has announced the city’s latest plan to address the homeless crisis — the formation of a new, large-scale 24-hour shelter program.
“Our strategy for helping people without shelter has to be broader than designating another site in the city to pitch a tent,” Murray said.
Murray ordered on June 9 the creation of a shelter program modeled after the Navigation Center in San Francisco. The goal of the shelter is to be low-barrier and a one-stop service center for those experiencing homelessness, with the ultimate goal of rapid housing and tailoring services to individuals. Funding for the shelter program will initially come from $600,000 in state funds, along with another $600,000 private donation that is dedicated to homeless projects.
In Executive Order 2016-05, Murray states that “priority consideration will be given to serving people in a manner that enables organic groups or communities that have formed in specific geographic areas to stay together and transition to the center …” One such “organic group,” Murray points out, is the community of homeless encampments in The Jungle — or as the city likes to call it, the “I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt.”
Murray argues that existing shelters do not address homeless individuals who have possessions they keep with them; are couples; have mental health or substance abuse problems; have pets or have other barriers. He also points out that from January through April, Seattle officials reached out to 340 unsheltered people in the city and concluded that 93 percent had mental illness issues and/or substance abuse problems. Nine percent had one or more medical conditions — many that could have already been treated.
The order states that the city aims to have the new shelter program operational by Dec. 31, 2016.
Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency over the homeless crisis in November 2015.
What happens next?
• Seattle’s Human Services Department will evaluate the Navigation Center model and develop a program for Seattle’s needs within 60 days.
• Within 90 days the Human Services Department will release a request for proposal for the program with the aim of having it operational by Dec. 31, 2016.
• Seattle’s Budget Office will develop a funding model in cooperation with the Human Services Department.
• Seattle will seek out philanthropic, business, government and community-based representatives to collaborate on a public-private partnership workgroup for the shelter program.