On October 3, 2016, the Task Force on Unsanctioned Encampments issued its report. The sixteen members and leaders offered the following 17 Principles. I am grateful to all who were involved, including co-chairs Sally Clark and David Moseley, and the facilitator Kjris Lund. The names of the sixteen participants are listed below.
- When it is necessary to require people to move, there must be adequate and personalized outreach.
- When it is necessary to disband an encampment, all occupants will be offered a safe and appropriate shelter option.
- Low-barrier (person-centered), housing-focused shelter must be expanded, as well as permanent housing options (buildings and rent assistance), to meet the threshold of offering “safe and appropriate” housing or shelter for all.
- Homelessness is a crisis in Seattle that demands urgent action by the public, private, and non-profit sectors. The City’s approach to unsheltered homeless people should do no further harm.
- Action must be taken to enhance and reform the effectiveness of our current human services system to achieve better outcomes and a significant reduction in the number of people sleeping outside. The City needs a transition plan for this systemic transformation with timelines and measurements.
- The City of Seattle’s current approach to managing and removing encampments has negatively impacted homeless individuals and neighborhoods and new protocols and approaches are needed to make sure that our actions match our community values.
- Any future approach to managing encampments needs to establish a mechanism to measure and substantially respond to community impacts from encampments.
- Increased funding and resources for housing, mental health, and drug treatment are needed from the State and Federal levels to expand treatment housing and capacity.
- When required due to unsafe and unsuitable locations, the moving of people should be respectful of individuals and their belongings, but also administratively and logistically feasible to complete in a reasonable period of time.
- The City should enter into memorandums of understanding with all applicable public agencies, including the State, to establish common protocols and procedures when it is necessary to disband an encampment.
- The City should prohibit encampments and intervene expeditiously in unsafe locations.
- The City should intervene expeditiously to correct conditions or disband an encampment in the case of hazardous conditions.
- In the case of unsuitable locations with an intended public use as defined in legislation and rulemaking, encampments are prohibited and intervention should be expeditious.
- People in low impact encampments should receive the services required to remain safe and low impact.
- The City should commit, through policies and procedures, to both reduce friction between encampments and neighborhoods and to implement successful interventions to preserve health and safety for all.
- Outreach to people living in encampments should be well-resourced, well-documented, incorporate robust and consistent engagement, inter-agency communication, and data sharing.
- Outreach to people living outdoors should involve, when feasible, formerly/currently homeless people as part of the action and connect people to ongoing services and housing.
Special and heartfelt thanks to all who served on this Task Force. They have helped the City formulate next steps:
Name and Organization
Bill Hallerman — Catholic Community Services
Chloe Gale — REACH/Evergreen Treatment Services
Daniel Malone — Downtown Emergency Services Center
Dave McCormick — WSDOT
David Moseley (Co-chair) — Former Director of Washington State Ferries
Don Blakeney — Downtown Seattle Association
Gretchen Taylor — Neighborhood Safety Alliance
Janet Pope — Compass Housing Alliance
Katy Miller — US Interagency Council on Homelessness
Kima Yandall — SODO Business Improvement Area
Leslie Smith — Alliance for Pioneer Square
Marcos Martinez — Casa Latina
Mark Putnam — All Home King County
Eric Stoll — Ballard Chamber of Commerce
Pradeepta Upadhyay — InterIm CDA
Sally Clark (Co-chair) — University of Washington
Sheila Sebron — Health Care for the Homeless Network
Alison Eisinger — Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness