Seattle announces three new authorized encampment sites

SEATTLE (December 1, 2016) —Today, the Human Services Department announced the siting of three new temporary sanctioned encampments for individuals living unsheltered in Seattle. This action is part of the Bridging the Gap plan, announced in October, to better address the immediate needs of people experiencing homelessness while the City fully implements its long-term plan, Pathways Home.

Together, the following three new sanctioned encampments will serve more than 200 people starting in early 2017:

  1. 1000 S Myrtle Street will contain up to 50 tiny houses serving 60-70 people.
  2. 8620 Nesbit Ave N. will contain up to 50 tiny houses serving 60-70 people.
  3. 9701 Myers Way S will contain up to 50 tents serving 60-70 people.

“Today’s announcement recognizes our need to provide safer alternatives to the people living unsheltered on our streets as we work to implement Pathways Home,” said Catherine Lester, Director of the Human Services Department. “We remain committed to our long-term plan to transform our homeless services system and focus our investments on getting people off the streets and into housing. In the meantime, we will continue the work of increasing our outreach efforts, implementing a more compassionate set of protocols when cleanups are necessary and offering trash and needle pickup services.”

In October, Mayor Murray announced the Bridging the Gap plan, which recognizes that the City should not displace unauthorized encampments that do not pose an imminent health or safety risk or do not unlawfully obstruct a public use, unless the City can offer those living there a safer alternative place to live. The plan reflects the principles laid out by the Task Force on Unsheltered Cleanup Protocols.

That announcement came a month after Mayor Murray announced Pathways Home, Seattle’s plan to transform our homeless services system by focusing our investments on the goal of getting people into stable housing. The plan aims to eliminate barriers to better meet the individualized needs of those experiencing homelessness, shift investments where necessary to achieve the goal of moving people into housing, and increase accountability to this goal through performance-based contracting.

The first of the authorized encampments is scheduled to open in early January.

Additional information about the Mayor’s actions to address homelessness can be found here.



City announces navigation center operators

SEATTLE (November 14, 2016) – Today, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) announced that the Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), in partnership with Operation Sack Lunch, has been selected to operate Seattle’s navigation center site when it opens later this year. DESC will operate the 24-hour, low-barrier shelter while Operation Sack Lunch will provide food and meal support to those at the shelter.

“As the City works to implement the long-term strategies to address our homelessness crisis laid out in Pathways Home, we must immediately address the need for low-barrier and 24-hour shelter options,” said Mayor Murray. “Today’s selection of the new navigation center operators brings us one step closer to providing emergency shelter and services to people who are not well served by our current system.”

On June 9, Mayor Murray issued an executive order directing the creation of a new low-barrier, one-stop service center for people living unsheltered to receive personalized support and transition them into permanent housing. This award intends that the Downtown Emergency Services Center, in partnership with Operation Sack Lunch, will offer support for basic needs like shelter, hygiene, meals, secure and accessible storage, case management, and supportive services including referrals for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Seattle’s navigation center will be modeled on the San Francisco Navigation Center,  a dormitory-style living facility that provides people living outside with shower, bathroom, laundry and dining facilities, and a place to store their belongings. The navigation center will be a 24/7 site that welcomes pets, couples and individuals currently struggling with addiction.

“Through a collaborative approach, the Downtown Emergency Services Center and Operation Sack Lunch will work together to provide the wraparound client services and meal support to make the Seattle Navigation Center successful,” said Human Services Department Director Catherine Lester. “We know that increasing access to low-barrier, 24-hour shelter is one of the most important ways we can transform our response to the growing number of people living unsheltered in our city.”

HSD’s contracted outreach providers will continue to engage individuals and families experiencing homelessness and facilitate referrals to the Navigation Center. Priority will be for those who have relocated from the I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt to the transitional encampment at Royal Brougham Way.

The $1.67M in allocated funding for this project is derived from the City of Seattle Homelessness State of Emergency funding ($475,000), Washington State Department of Commerce ($600,000) and private donations ($600,000).

The Human Services Department, in coordination with partners, continues to review potential sites for the navigation center. The awards announced today are conditional, contingent on the finalization of budget and other contract details.

Individuals, businesses, and philanthropic organizations can make donations to the navigation center on the United Way of King County website.

Human Services Department announces more than $700k in funding for youth development

The Seattle Human Services Department is funding seven organizations to provide youth development and educational support services. Funding awards total over $708,000, and provide constructive school year and summer programming for middle and high school at-risk youth. Funding is focused on serving African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian and Pacific Islander, and English language learning youth (ELL).

This grant opportunity requested proposals for youth development, educational support or both program areas. The Human Services Department is investing in these programs to help youth increase self-confidence, build social skills, and increase connection to their school and community. Likewise, educational support is vital to helping youth make academic progress during the school year and during breaks.

Asian Counseling and Referral Service was awarded $116,046 to provide youth development services to southeast Asian youth. Funding for the Southeast Asian Young Men’s and Young Women’s Group will expand the current afterschool program and add summer youth development enrichment programming. Youth can participate in documentary filmmaking, community service learning, civic engagement, physical recreation, and academic pre-employment support.

El Centro de la Raza was awarded $89,068 to provide youth development and educational support to Latino youth. The Afterschool Drop-in Program provides academic support and activities for youth living in the new onsite El Centro de la Raza housing “Plaza Roberto Maestas”. Summer programming will include academic and cultural enrichment activities, recreation and field trips.

Interim Community Development Association was awarded $96,131 to provide youth development programming with a focus on first generation limited ELL Asian and Pacific Islander youth. The Wilderness Inner-city Leadership Development youth program provides afterschool and summer community programs and an environmental justice leadership development program.

Neighborhood House was awarded $75,357 to serve youth within the Highpoint public housing neighborhood. The Studio program provides an afterschool and summer approach to build STEM engagement and skills, combine hands-on activities, receive mentorship, prepare for college and career, and get involved with the community. This program is supported by University of Washington STEM mentors and youth have the opportunity to provide an annual project showcase for the community.

Refugee Women’s Alliance received $111,297 to provide youth development and educational support programming with an emphasis on serving youth from refugee and immigrant families. The ReWA Youth Program will provide customized academic support through one-on-one and small group tutoring including English as a second language homework support and a variety of positive engaging peer group activities.

Vietnamese Friendship Association was awarded $116,046 to provide educational support with an emphasis on serving ELL youth. The program, afterschool at the Seattle World School on Saturdays, and over the summer. The Vietnamese Friendship Association will provide tutoring, homework help, credit retrieval, native language courses, and service learning opportunities.


YWCA was awarded $104,335 to provide youth development and educational support for low income African American girls. GirlsFirst aims to engage youth in academic achievement, self-empowerment and awareness, and career discovery. These girls will have the opportunity to participate in a robotics team, summer leadership academy, choir, and onsite afterschool programming at four local high schools.



The Human Services Department invests more than $22.7M to help prepare youth in Seattle for success. To learn more about HSD’s work to ensure that all of Seattle youth are prepared to for the future regardless of race, income, immigration status and neighborhood please visit our website. These awards are funded by the City of Seattle General Fund.




The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net. HSD provides $89 million in funding through 450 contracts to nearly 200 agencies supporting Seattle’s most vulnerable residents each year. The department works closely with its community partners, including other public and nonprofit funders and service providers, to understand current and emerging human service needs, and to create and invest in a comprehensive and integrated regional human services system.

Seattle Human Services Department and Government Performance Lab discuss results of contracting pilot program

Today the Human Services Department, the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities hosted a convening to discuss the results of a one-year pilot program in Seattle focused on retooling the department’s homelessness contracts.

Begin ning in August 2015, the Government Performance Lab embedded a fellow for a year in the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department to support the implementation of results-driven contracting for the department’s most important homelessness contracts. This project was a part of What Works Cities—an initiative to help 100 mid-sized U.S. cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve services, inform local decision-making, and engage residents.

The pilot project was designed to allow the city to fully realize the potential of its contracted dollars by setting up the necessary systems – clearly identifying goals, tracking performance, and meeting regularly with providers – that allow them to actively manage their contracts. The Government Performance Lab recommended two main components to the pilot: consolidating contracts and implementing results-driven contracting strategies to focus contracts on performance goals.

“Mayor Murray has laid out the 4 key ways Seattle can continue to transform our city government: transparency and accountability, increased efficiency, better financial management and innovation through the use of data. Our year-long pilot with the Government Performance Lab is a perfect example of using those cornerstones to rebuild our response to homelessness,” said Human Services Department Director Catherine Lester, “By using results-driven contracting and the outcomes framework we have the tools to make a more effective system.”

Seattle continues to be a national leader in exploring new ways to reduce homelessness in the city. Just this week, Mayor Murray unveiled a budget proposal that includes a record $59 million investment in homelessness services and its Pathways Home initiative.

Staff from other WWC cities, including San Francisco, Anchorage, Tacoma, Bellevue, Portland, Denver, Gresham, Las Vegas, and Boston, were also in attendance as well to learn about Seattle’s work, discuss their cities’ challenges with homelessness, and share about their own successful initiatives.

Mayor Ed Murray proposes an additional $12 million to implement the City’s new homelessness plan

Today, Mayor Edward B. Murray announced $12 million in new funding to implement strategies laid out in the City’s new homelessness plan, “Pathways Home“, Seattle’s Person-Centered Plan to Support People Experiencing Homelessness.” This funding is sourced through a combination of new general fund dollars, additional revenue from the housing levy to support an increase to the Homelessness Prevention Program and a continuation of funding for key programs originally funded under the 2015 State of Emergency.

“By providing funding for key element of the Pathways Home Plan, I believe we can make a dramatic and visible difference in the number of people currently experiencing homelessness through a major transformation of our homeless service delivery system,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

The 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes almost $1 million in investments that will help to create capacity to house the unsheltered families on the waitlist. These investments will fund rental assistance and one-time funding to address immediate needs to divert people from homelessness, rapid rehousing funding, as well as funding for motel vouchers for families. This also includes a $200,000 investment in domestic violence and sexual assault housing first and case management programs.

The proposed budget also includes $5 million to fund investments in new best practices, as well as to continue best practices, initially funded as part of the State of Emergency. The new investments include funding to convert an existing shelter to a 24-hour model and funding for a new navigation center, which will be a 24-hour low-barrier shelter with case management. Programs continuing from the State of Emergency investments include funding for rapid rehousing and diversion for single adults, outreach to unsheltered individuals and families, youth case management, and mobile medical van services.

To support system transformation, the proposed budget includes $1.1 million in investments for staffing and data capacity, enhancing the Coordinated Entry system and standing up the Housing Resource Center. Human Services Department (HSD) is making significant changes to their current business practices around homelessness investments, to implement Pathways Home. Performance-based contracting requires new data expertise to collect and interpret both program-and system-level data and a deeper level of expertise to actively monitor fidelity to best practice program models.

As the City transforms its homelessness investment system in coordination with All Home and King County, there is an immediate need to shelter those living in crisis outdoors.  To address this, the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.1 million to maintain stability in shelter and encampments as system changes are made. These investments maintain the additional shelter beds and increased operating hours funded as part of the State of Emergency. The proposed budget also includes funding for a faith-based partnership to expand shelter capacity and operating support. These investments maintain stability in shelter system capacity as HSD moves toward a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for all homeless investments in 2018.

The Mayor and City Council are engaged in efforts to modify encampment cleanup protocols and examine options to provide safe alternatives to camping in public spaces, additional services and supports for people living unsheltered.  A task force has been convened to develop potential recommendations and the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.8 million to improve coordination and outreach; increase safe sleeping locations, shelter and housing options; address public health and safety issues and the storage of belongings.