Navigation Center to begin accepting referrals

Beginning tomorrow, the City’s new Navigation Center, an enhanced shelter that accepts people with pets, partners, and possessions, as well as substance abuse disorders, will accept referrals from the Navigation Team. Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) Executive Director Daniel Malone toured the facility, located at the Pearl Warren Building. The Navigation Center is modeled after a similar facility in San Francisco, which caters to those living unsheltered who face barriers to traditional shelter.

“This is a major milestone in the City’s effort to make our homelessness services system laser focused on meeting individualized needs of people,” said Mayor Murray. “That’s how you build a pathway to stable housing. Through collaboration with service providers and community partners, we are now one step closer to putting people experiencing homelessness on that path.”

In June 2016 Mayor Murray signed an Executive Order directing the creation of a low-barrier, one-stop service center for unsheltered individuals  to receive the customized support they need to move from the streets back into permanent homes.

The Navigation Center is modeled on the San Francisco Navigation Center, the first of its kind, 24/7, dormitory-style living facility that provides people living outside with shower, bathroom, laundry and dining facilities, a place to store their belongings, as well as round-the-clock case management, mental and behavioral health services, and connections to benefit programs and housing, all in one location.

The Seattle Navigation Center will be particularly suited to people who choose to stay in nearby encampments rather than shelters, where partners, pets or possessions are not typically allowed. The center will prioritize placement for currently unsheltered individuals who have been referred through the Navigation Team, comprised of specially trained social workers and SPD outreach efforts.

The DESC, in partnership with Operation Sack Lunch, were selected through a competitive process to operate Navigation Center. DESC will operate the 24-hour, low-barrier shelter while Operation Sack Lunch will provide food and meal support.

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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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Mayor Ed Murray announces Utility Discount Program expansion

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park) announced the expansion of the Utility Discount Program (UDP) to more than 3,000 new Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) customers. This expansion is the result of a June 1, 2017  Director’s Rule change allowing Medicare premium expenses to be deducted from Social Security, Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income.  Previously, Medicare Part B premiums were deducted from a senior’s Social Security check but the premium amount was included in their income calculation, causing them to exceed the income threshold to qualify for the discount. Allowing this premium to be deducted from the income calculation makes an estimated 3,000 seniors now eligible to receive utility discounts.

“Housing costs are the largest expense seniors face in our growing city and utility bills are a considerable part of that burden,” said Mayor Murray. “We have doubled enrollment in the Utility Discount Program, and today’s announcement expands eligibility to thousands more seniors. This will help more seniors stay in Seattle and keep the city affordable.”

“Today we’re able to lend a helping hand to people who rely on Medicare Part B to get by,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park). “When a City Light customer informed me her mother made $150 too much to qualify for discounted utilities because the City was calculating her $1,000 in Medicare Part B benefits as ‘income,’ I knew it needed an immediate fix.  I’m thankful for our utilities for implementing this common-sense fix.”

This move is a part of Mayor Murray’s commitment to address Seattle’s growing income inequality and remove institutional barriers between services and those in need. In 2014, Mayor Murray challenged City Departments to double the number of households enrolled in the UDP from 14,000 to 28,000 by the end of 2018.  This goal was achieved in 2016—two years ahead of schedule—by removing application barriers for households already enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance  Program (SNAP) and auto-enrolling households who live in subsidized housing.  Today, 33,000 utility customers are enrolled in the program.

The UDP provides those who qualify a 60 percent discount on SCL and 50 percent on SPU bills. The average UDP customer household receive an average of $1,200 in annual discounts on utility bills.

Interested customers may download an application on the Human Services Department website.

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Mayor Murray, Paul G. Allen announce partnership to provide $35 million to support homeless families

Today, Mayor Ed Murray and philanthropist Paul G. Allen announced a partnership to address the region’s homelessness crisis through an innovative, permanent supportive housing and onsite services community that will serve as a resource hub for Seattle-area families with children who are experiencing homelessness. Under the partnership, Mr. Allen will provide $30 million in capital toward the development, with the City of Seattle committing $5 million in capital and additional funds to support operation and maintenance of the center.

“Paul Allen understands the homelessness crisis requires everyone in our community, particularly our business leaders, to help,” said Mayor Murray. “This partnership with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation will build permanent supportive housing for vulnerable homeless families with children and help the City leverage our affordable housing funds 6-to-1. This commitment is an example of the incredible difference our philanthropic and business leaders can make in our community, as I called on others to do during my State of the City speech this year. Thank you to Paul Allen, his family, and the foundation for making this incredibly generous investment to address this crisis.”

“We should all be alarmed by the growing crisis of homelessness in our community, especially its impact on families,” said Bill Hilf, CEO of Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. “Addressing this crisis requires the commitment and creativity of business, government, and the human services community. We approached the City of Seattle some months ago to get this project going because we wanted to make a significant impact toward disrupting the cycle of homelessness, and to give homeless families an opportunity to thrive.”

Mercy Housing Northwest, one of the nation’s largest non-profit developers of affordable housing operating 48 properties in Washington state, will develop, own, and operate the multi-family complex. It is anticipated that other nonprofit providers will partner to provide services for children and families in the community.

“This remarkable partnership between Paul Allen and the City of Seattle will make lasting opportunities for families most in need,” said Bill Rumpf, President of Mercy Housing Northwest. “We are grateful for the opportunity to create affordable apartments and a family service center where parents and children can get out of homelessness, regain resilience and dignity, and pursue economic mobility.”

There are currently 1,684 families awaiting housing in King County and more than 3,498 homeless students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools who experienced homelessness during the 2015-2016 school year. According to the Homeless Needs Assessment, 43 percent of homeless adults experienced homelessness before the age of 25. Through a mix of housing and onsite services, this project aims to assist families experiencing homelessness, helping them transition to stable housing and break the cycle of homelessness. This development aligns with the guidelines identified in Mayor Murray’s Pathways Home plan and aims to address needs often cited by homelessness service provides, advocates, and people experiencing homelessness.

Additional details about the design, location, and target opening date for the community will be released in the coming months.

More: Read the letter of intent between partners

About Paul Allen
Paul G. Allen is a Microsoft cofounder, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who explores the frontiers of technology and human knowledge, and works to change the future. Through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and his organization Vulcan Inc., Mr. Allen is working to save endangered species, improve ocean health, tackle contagious diseases, research the human brain, and build sustainable communities. All told, Mr. Allen’s philanthropic contributions exceed $2 billion. As a member of the Giving Pledge, he remains committed to giving away the majority of his fortune. For more information, please visit

About Mercy Housing Northwest
Mercy Housing Northwest creates stable, vibrant and healthy communities for Washington state residents. They build homes, transform lives and help individuals, families and seniors thrive by providing permanent housing with supportive services. Mercy Housing Northwest was formed 25 years ago by five women’s religious communities: the Tacoma Dominicans, the Adrian (Edmonds) Dominicans, the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. MHNW is the northwest arm of Mercy Housing, one of the largest affordable rental housing providers in the US. Mercy Housing owns 48 affordable housing properties in Washington, serving approximately 5,000 people each year. For more information, please visit

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Mayor Murray debuts What Works Cities film on Seattle’s efforts to improve contract performance of homeless service providers

Today, Mayor Ed Murray debuted a Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities film in New York City featuring the City of Seattle’s first effort in a decade to re-bid all homeless service contracts to better ensure providers meet performance goals and have a proven, data-driven record of placing people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. Click on the image below to watch the film:
In 2016, Mayor Murray created the Performance Seattle team to increase accountability in carrying out day-to-day City business and to give City departments the tools and information to become more efficient, effective and accountable. The team has been working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab to pilot a new approach with how the City contracts with homeless service providers. Working with a small number of providers, the team has worked to consolidate contracts with service providers, restructure contracts to prioritize placement into permanent housing, and improve the use of data to pinpoint, and fund, what works.
Mayor Murray is in New York City this week attending the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities 2017 Summit, which brings together leading city policymakers from across the country to discuss, share, and explore best practices that increase performance and effectiveness of local governments. Founded in 2015, What Works Cities is a national initiative to help American cities enhance their use of data to improve services, inform decision making, and engage residents, ultimately helping leaders identity and invest in what works.

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