Human Services Department Releases the Homeless Investments RFP

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Human Services Director Catherine Lester and announced the release of the Homeless Investments Request For Proposal (RFP)—a $30 million open and competitive funding process for homelessness services.

“After asking national experts what wasn’t working in our homelessness services system, we are taking the major step of rebidding our contracts for the first time in a decade,” said Mayor Murray. “We are taking our system from a series of disconnected, boutique services, to a coordinated effort to connect people with what they need and get them into permanent housing. In addition to the Navigation Team, the Navigation Center and our ongoing work to address this crisis like the emergency it is, this step will help these services be more effective and impactful into the future.”

“Through this RFP, the City joins with other major funders in the area to shift from a collection of programs that are contributing to those most in need in our community, to a more integrated system that is laser-focused on supporting people who are homelessness in becoming stable and housed,” said Catherine L. Lester, Director of HSD. “The RFP looks across all of our investments with an eye toward both performance and to addressing institutionalized racism that too often contributes to homelessness.”

The RFP is one of multiple tools the City is using in coordination with King County and United Way of King County to combat the regional homelessness issue and move those experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. As funders, all three organizations agreed upon five key performance targets;

  • How many people are exiting homelessness into permanent housing;
  • How long people are spending in the homelessness services system;
  • How many people return to homeless services;
  • How many people are entering homelessness; and
  • Ensuring we are using all available resources such as shelter beds

Awards made through the RFP will be based on the key targets as well as data to be used by the City. Dollars from the RFP will be invested in prevention, diversion, outreach and engagement, emergency services, transitional housing, rapid rehousing/rental subsidies, and permanent supportive housing. In preparation for the RFP release, HSD has been working with agencies and organization over the past year to prepare for the new targets outlined in the RFP.

The RFP is also a reflection of the department’s commitment to Race and Social Justice commitment and calls for applicants to provide culturally responsive services for those in need. Agencies applying for funding must demonstrate the capacity to deliver person-centered, culturally competent, responsive, relevant, and accessible services.

HSD engaged with many stakeholders throughout the development of the RFP including: Councilmembers and their staff, coalitions, provider staff and boards of directors, philanthropy partners, and individuals experiencing homelessness. Feedback from more than 60 engagement presentations, a 2015 Homeless Investment Analysis, the Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies reports, as well as the results from the 2016 Needs Assessment survey of more than 1,00 individuals experiencing homelessness were foundational in creating an RFP that will systemically respond to the issue of homelessness in Seattle, and move individuals and families into permanent housing.

Scoring for rapid rehousing, transitional housing, emergency shelter, and permanent supportive housing will be weighted 40 percent on past performance based on the data agencies provided from January 2017 to June 2017, and 60 percent on their application and budget responses in the RFP. Other projects will be scored entirely on the application and budget responses. Applicants also will have an interview with rating panels to discuss their proposals as part of the review process. Rating panels will include city staff with knowledge of the various service areas, other public funders, staff from philanthropic institutions, and people with lived experience of homelessness.

The deadline for proposal submission is Sept. 9 and final awards will be announced in December.  Contracts will cover the 2018 fiscal year that begins in January.

HSD will host three information sessions for prospective applicants. These information sessions are:

  • Thursday, July 6 from 1:30-3:30 pm Lake City Public Library, 12501 28th Avenue NE, Seattle, WA 98125
  • Monday, July 10 from 1:30-3:30 pm Douglas-Truth Public Library, 2300 E Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98122
  • Monday, July 17 from 10:30 am -12:30 pm Columbia City Public Library, 4721 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

For an in-depth look at the Homeless Investments RFP, as well as application instructions visit: