Hygiene Services Available for People Living Homeless

In 2018, Seattle is investing in homeless services that help people find and maintain stable housing. More emergency shelters are including basic hygiene services like showers and laundry to reduce the burden of people experiencing homelessness having to go door-to-door to meet basic needs.

21 of 22 shelter programs include hygiene services in 2018

  • Seattle increased its investment in 21/22 shelters that provide hygiene services like showers, restrooms, and laundry as well as other amenities like extended stay hours, storage, and case workers.
  • These shelters will serve over 1,400 people per night in 2018.
  • Enhanced shelters provide more of a “one-stop shop” approach to reduce the door-to-door burden for people already in crisis to meet their basic needs like eating breakfast, taking a shower, doing laundry, and sleeping.
  • 6 managed encampments provide hygiene services for up to 300 people per night.

Seattle supports standalone restrooms, showers, and laundry for people experiencing homelessness

  • 11 Day Centers offer hygiene services for drop-in clients in Seattle
    • All populations are served by these day centers. (Youth/Young Adults, Single Males/Females, Couples, Families with Children)
  • 3 Low Income Housing Institute Urban Rest Stop locations offer hygiene services in Ballard, downtown Seattle and the University District
  • 4 Community Centers offer showers and restrooms (Delridge, Green Lake, Miller, Rainier) to people experiencing homelessness
  • 7 Community Pools offer showers and restrooms for Seattle Public School children and their families experiencing homelessness
  • These 11 Community Centers and Community Pools are located throughout Seattle, in every district

Seattle supports 117 restrooms available to all members of the public

  • 5 portable toilets placed near public transportation stops in neighborhoods throughout the city
  • 27 public libraries throughout Seattle
  • 85 city parks throughout Seattle

We applaud our partners that help provide these necessary services for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle. People need emergency services to help them recover from homelessness and find permanent housing. Seattle supports co-locating these services so that people can focus on their next step – finding a home.

City of Seattle 2016 Homeless Needs Assessment

In November 2016, the Human Services Department partnered with Applied Survey Research (ASD) to survey over 1,000 unsheltered individuals living on the streets, in encampments, and public shelters. The results of the  City of Seattle Homeless Needs Assessment have provided better understanding of the needs, and situations of the homeless population, to help the city’s responses to homelessness with its community partners. The results in the assessment address; Causes of Homelessness, Housing Affordability, Foster Care System, Income Loss, and Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Seattle Human Services Department announces $1.3M in Bridging the Gap funding

New grants will increase shelter capacity and fund the storage of belongings for those experiencing homelessness

Seattle, WA (December 15, 2016) – This week, the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for over $1.3M to fund increased shelter access for those experiencing homelessness and storage for their belongings. Approximately $1.1M will be devoted to adding 100 new, low barrier shelter options. In addition, $200,000 will be devoted to increasing storage opportunities for safekeeping the belongings of those currently living unsheltered.


This week’s announcement of funding is part of the Bridging the Gap plan, announced in October, a set of interim steps the City will take to assist those experience homelessness while the City implements Pathways Home. Pathways Home is Seattle’s plan to transform our homeless services system by focusing our investments on the goal of getting people into stable housing.


“We must continue to creatively expand shelter options that address the unique needs of each individual living unsheltered,” said Human Services Department Director Catherine Lester. “Expanding low-barrier shelter and ensuring that people have access to safe storage for their belongings are immediate steps we can take to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness.”


The 100 new shelter beds will be dedicated to individuals referred from city-funded outreach teams, which are conducting outreach to those living unsheltered and working to connect them with resources. Eligible shelter costs could be staff and operating costs, expansion of existing shelter to add beds or capital/facility repair and improvements.


This is one time funding for the period of March 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017, though projects will be eligible to apply for ongoing funding through HSD’s Pathways Home RFP for 2018 contracts. The $1.3M for Bridging the Gap Shelter and Storage is funded by City of Seattle General Fund.


The City of Seattle will also send out a Letter of Interest (LOI) to the business, corporate, faith, and nonprofit communities to call for innovative solutions for our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. This LOI is asking for donated or rate-reduced space and resources.  Responses from the LOI will provide additional resources for the services proposed in the Bridging the Gap Shelter and Storage RFP. Learn more about the LOI on the Human Services Department’s Bridging the Gap Shelter and Storage RFP page.


The application deadline for proposals is Friday, January 20, 2017 at 12:00pm (noon). Those with questions are encouraged to attend an information session Wednesday, December 21, 2016 from 9:00am to 11:00am:


The 2100 Building
2100 24th Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98144



The Seattle Human Services Department is one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net. HSD provides $89 million in funding through 400 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.

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Seattle, King County unsheltered homelessness continues to rise

 Mayor Ed Murray and over 1,000 volunteers spent the early hours of Friday participating in the One Night Count to survey Seattle and King County, estimating how many people were sleeping outside, in tents and vehicles, without access to shelter.

As expected, the numbers of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness are on the rise. In Seattle, volunteers estimated they witnessed 2,942 people sleeping outside, a five percent increase from last January’s count. Across King County, the number has risen to 4,505 unsheltered people, up 19 percent from a year ago.

“Last night’s count reflects what we all see on the streets of our city – that we have a growing crisis of homelessness in our community,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “While large cities are often the focus of this debate, homelessness is growing in suburban communities and smaller towns across our state. We must pursue a coordinated approach – in Puget Sound, in Washington state and across the country – as we respond to this national crisis.”

On Nov. 2, 2015, Murray declared a state of emergency in the homelessness crisis in Seattle, in coordination with King County Executive Dow Constantine. Within days, the Seattle City Council approved an additional $7 million in emergency funding for additional shelter spaces, safe parking lots for those living in vehicles, and additional outreach services to those living on the street.

Murray has called for more federal and state assistance to respond to the growing need, citing underfunded national and state initiatives for affordable housing, mental health and chemical dependency.

“As homelessness in the Seattle/King County continues to grow, the City’s work to address the immediate need to get people off the street and into stable housing and the longer-term effort to more strategically invest the City’s nearly $50 million in homelessness programs and services is more important than ever,” said Catherine Lester, Seattle Human Services Department Director.  “The City is committed to continuing to coordinate with regional government partners, service providers and the faith community to build a strategy that is focused on an integrated system of early interventions and access to housing which are critical to end homelessness.”




Seattle to open safe lots for homeless families and individuals living in vehicles

In response to the continued crisis of homelessness on the streets of Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray issued an emergency order to expedite the siting of two safe lots in Ballard and Delridge for homeless individuals and families living in recreational vehicles and cars.

“These are not long term solutions to end homelessness, but temporary locations that can be managed to provide a safer environment for those living on our streets and have less impact on our neighborhoods,” said Murray. “The City’s active case management services will reach out to those experiencing homelessness and living in their vehicles, with the goal to help move them to permanent housing as quickly as possible. These safe lots will also help reduce the public health issues currently impacting several of our neighborhoods.”

The new safe lots are part of the City’s overall actions under Mayor Murray’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness that has spurred the opening and expansion of new shelters and authorized tent encampments, and increased investments in services and outreach. Opening the new safe lots will occur along with additional trash pickups in neighborhoods, as well as renewed enforcement of the City’s existing parking rules and addressing public safety issues that have arisen in recent months.

“When Mayor Murray declared the state of emergency, the direction given to us was to take significant steps to immediately help those in need living on our streets and address underlying causes of homelessness. Since then, Seattle has expanded outreach services, opened up space for nearly 300 individuals in new shelters or authorized tent encampments and we have invested more in prevention services. Today’s announcement of new safe lots is another part of this larger effort under the state of emergency to provide immediate, short term assistance,” said Catherine Lester, Director of Seattle’s Human Services Department. “In addition to the authority under the Mayor’s emergency orders, we will be able to stand up these safe lots quickly thanks to the fast work of our partners including local service providers, other City departments and WSDOT.”

To expedite the siting and permitting of the safe lots, Mayor Murray is exercising powers invoked under his Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness issued on Nov. 2, 2015. The mayor will send the emergency order to the City Council today, where it can be approved, rejected or amended.

Expected to begin operations in 30 days, the two safe lots can hold up to an estimated 50 vehicles. Each site will have sanitation and garbage service, as well as case management assistance for those experiencing homelessness in order to build pathways to permanent housing. All residents must abide by a code of conduct policy that will prohibit drugs and violence, and require residents to be good neighbors.

The Ballard site, the Yankee Diner parking lot at Shilshole Ave. NW and 24th Ave. NW, is owned by Seattle Public Utilities. The Seattle Department of Transportation has been in negotiations with the Washington State Department of Transportation to acquire a parking lot next to the Glass Yard lot at West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way SW for the Delridge site. The City and WSDOT are discussing the terms of the sale of the property and will likely require future legislation to finalize the purchase and sale agreement. But to accommodate the Mayor’s emergency order, WSDOT has agreed to allow the City to use the site as a safe lot in the intervening period during these negotiations.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7 – Pioneer Square to Magnolia) thanked Mayor Murray and his administration for identifying spaces for people who are living in their vehicles to have a safe and hygienic place to park. “Homelessness extends far beyond our City’s limits and I look forward to working with human service providers, faith institutions, and King County leaders to create more safe spaces. This is a strong beginning, but not the end of delivering better care for neighbors who need our support,” said Bagshaw.

“Pacific Fishermen understands and shares the social responsibility and importance to the City of helping those experiencing homelessness. We support the Mayor’s approach and the use of the Yankee Diner site. If these lots are managed properly, good folks will get the services they need and there will be a reduced impact on businesses,” said Doug Dixon, General Manager of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard, which is located next door to the Yankee Diner site.

While the safe lots are being set up, temporary permitted street parking zones on City right of way will be established for those living in vehicles under the mayor’s emergency order. The temporary zones will have sanitation services and will be in place for 30 days until the safe lots are operational. The three temporary parking zones are:

Compass Housing Alliance, an existing non-profit service provider on contract with the City, will provide outreach and case management to those living in vehicles to connect them with services and a pathway to housing.

Last November, as part of the mayor’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency, the City Council unanimously approved his request for $5 million in new, one-time funds and added an additionally $2.3 million during the budget process for a total of $7.3 million. Some of those emergency dollars and a repurposing of an existing $350,000 in the City’s Human Services Department’s budget will go towards the operations and services required to stand up the safe lots and provide sanitation services to the temporary parking zones.

In addition to Seattle’s safe lots announced today, King County is studying funding options that would provide mental health, hygiene and case management services at faith-based safe parking locations across the county.

Under existing City ordinances, recreational vehicles may not be parked overnight on streets in non-industrial areas. In industrial zones, vehicles are prohibited from parking in the same location for more than 72 hours. Each of the locations announced today, both longer-term and temporary, are in industrial areas. Outside of these announced safe lots and temporary parking zones, the City will continue to enforce all existing and applicable laws related to parking throughout Seattle.

The mayor’s emergency order also invokes the authority for expedited siting of the third permitted tent encampment that is allowed under the ordinance approved unanimously by the City Council last year. The new encampment will be located in a neighborhood without an existing encampment or a new permanent safe lot.

Since the declaration of emergency, the City and its partners have opened up nearly 300 new spaces in shelters and authorized encampments, including the Queen Anne Shelter, authorized encampments in Ballard & Interbay, King County Admin building & the so-called Zombie building at 4th and Jefferson. Before the state of emergency, Seattle funded (and continues to fund) 1,600 other shelter beds.

In early January, a new shelter with capacity for 60 women opened in Greenwood. This week, Mary’s Place, which is using a City-owned building in North Seattle, expanded that facility to serve up to 100 women and children. This month, for the first time, a mobile medical van is serving those experiencing homelessness in Seattle.

Since the Mayor declared a homeless state of emergency, the City of Seattle will now invest nearly $50 million in services and shelter to help those experiencing homelessness for 2016. This is the largest annual investment in Seattle’s history.

An analysis of the City’s annual investment in homelessness services can be read HERE.

A summary of the Mayor’s spending proposal when he declared a state of emergency can be found HERE.

Maps of the two safe lots and the three temporary parking zones can be viewed HERE.