Unsheltered homelessness task force seeks immediate solutions

Mayor Murray today announced the members of his Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness. Murray has tasked the group, chaired by Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, with making recommendations by Dec. 15 to help the growing number of people who are living on the streets to find shelter during the coming winter.

“We remain very concerned about vulnerable people who don’t have a warm bed to sleep in at night,” said Kim. “We must review all the options for increasing the number of available beds before winter weather sets in. Exposure to the elements can be deadly, especially for those struggling with chronic health issues.”

The emergency task force’s membership reflects diverse perspectives from those who serve and advocate for homeless people, provide program funding, represent diverse communities of faith, neighborhoods, and businesses, as well as individuals who themselves have experienced homelessness.

Seattle makes an annual investment of around $9 million for 2,390 shelter beds, but the homeless population in Seattle continues to outpace space available in shelters.

During last January’s count of unsheltered homeless people, Seattle’s One Night Count, more than 2,300 individuals were found sleeping in cars or on the streets. Since 2010, the unsheltered homeless population in Seattle has increased by 30 percent.

The mayor has charged the group with advancing the conversation on how the City of Seattle and other jurisdictions in the region can work together, alongside private non-profit organizations and communities of faith, to reduce homelessness and serve the needs of homeless families and individuals.

The emergency task force will also review the City’s current policy on authorized homeless encampments. The review will include where encampments are located, how new sites for legal encampments are identified and how neighborhoods are consulted.

The emergency task force will hold its first meeting on Oct. 23rd in a private work session. Public meetings will be held Nov. 6 and Nov. 18 (locations to be announced later), followed by a private work session on Dec. 8.

Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness
Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, Chair
Lamar Campbell, Mockingbird Society Youth Network
Mary Ann DeVry, West Seattle Interfaith Network
Dee Dunbar, Friends of Lewis Park
Alison Eisinger, Seattle/King County Coalition On Homelessness
Anitra Freeman, SHARE/WHEEL
Kathy Gerard, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Melinda Giovengo, YouthCare
Bill Hallerman, Catholic Community Services
Tim Harris, Real Change
Rex Hohlbein, Facing Homelessness
Sharon Lee, Low Income Housing Institute
Louise Little, University District Partnership
Nicole Macri, Downtown Emergency Services Center
Pastor Robert Manaway, Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church
Vince Matulionis, United Way
Katy Miller, United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
Melanie Neufeld, Seattle Mennonite Church
Quynh Pham, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority
Mark Putnam, Committee to End Homelessness
Michael Ramos, Greater Church Council
Jon Scholes, Downtown Seattle Association
Leslie Smith, Pioneer Square Alliance
Trai Williams, Mockingbird Society Youth Network
Member of the Board of Parks Commissioners to be named later