Mayor Murray, Human Services Department announce $30 million request for proposals for homeless services


Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced a request for proposals (RFP) for $30 million of funding for homelessness services, the first time the City of Seattle has competitively bid its homeless services contracts in more than a decade. The RFP being issued by the Human Services Department (HSD) reflects the changes made under the City’s plan to address homelessness, Pathways Home, including a major focus on getting people into permanent housing. The RFP is for funding available for 2018.

“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.”

Awards made through the RFP process will be based on the key performance targets and data used by the City, including how many people are exiting homelessness into permanent housing; how long people are spending in the homelessness services system; how many people return to being homeless; how many people are entering homelessness; and ensuring we are using all available resources such as shelter beds. The funds will invest in prevention, diversion, outreach and engagement, emergency services (such as shelters), transitional housing, rapid rehousing/rental subsidies, and permanent supportive housing.

The RFP is just one tool the City is using in coordination with King County and United Way of King County to help the region address homelessness and move people into housing. All three organizations are funders who have agreed upon the performance targets listed above. By aligning across all priorities, these funders are better able to tie funding to needed outcomes. Importantly, proposals that demonstrate collaboration among programs to achieve results will receive additional credit in the review process.

HSD has been working with agencies and organizations over the past year to prepare for the outcome-based targets outlined in the RFP.

“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.”

In conjunction with the Seattle Race and Social Justice Initiative (RSJI), HSD has developed the RFP to reflect a commitment to funding culturally-responsive services that create positive outcomes for people in need. Agencies applying for HSD funding through this RFP must demonstrate the ability to institute these principles through routine delivery of services that are person-centered, culturally competent, responsive, relevant, and accessible.

Additionally, HSD has engaged with the community in preparing the RFP itself. Councilmembers and their staffs, provider boards and coalitions, philanthropy partners, and individuals who have experience living homeless were among the audiences for more than 60 presentations given during the development of the RFP. The feedback from these sessions, as well as the results of the 2016 Needs Assessment survey that HSD conducted of more than 1,000 people living homeless, the 2015 Homeless Investment Analysis, as well as the Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies reports were also used to inform the RFP development.

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

Further information about applying for the RFP is available on the City’s website at

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