ALTERNATIVE SITE NAMED FOR HOMELESS SERVICE CENTER PROJECT
Third and Yesler preferred alternative plan to Mayor’s proposal
SEATTLE – Tom Rasmussen, chair of the City Council’s Housing, Human Services and Health Committee, is recommending an alternative site to that proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels for the new downtown Homeless Service Center (or Hygiene Center). The Mayor’s proposal co-located the facility with Fire Station 10 and the Emergency Operations Center in the Chinatown/International District at Fourth and Yesler. Rasmussen will introduce legislation next week locating the Center at Third and Yesler, a little over a block away from the Mayor’s proposed site.
“This is a responsible alternative that would serve more people sooner and cost less,” says Rasmussen. “It’s the wisest choice because it will get more of our homeless people off the street and on their feet sooner,” he added.
Rasmussen’s proposal calls for the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), a non-profit organization with a track record of serving the most disabled and vulnerable homeless people, to operate the Center primarily addressing the needs of single adult men. The plan provides 3,000 square feet of space more than the facility at Fire Station 10 and therefore, will serve more people, yet it saves taxpayers $1.1 million and puts services in operation at least one year earlier than the Mayor’s proposal.
Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, co-sponsor of legislation setting this process in motion says, “We’ve waited a long enough. Let’s move forward on this terrific opportunity that addresses the needs of the homeless in this neighborhood. Drawing them to another neighborhood doesn’t solve the problem. We can get this facility on-line two years before the Mayor’s project is slated for operation at less the cost.”
Last November, with the support of his Council colleagues, Rasmussen initiated a review of possible alternatives to the Fourth and Yesler site, put forward by the Mayor’s office. Concerns emerged about the high cost of that proposed facility ($500 per square foot); potential security issues with co-locating the center with emergency and fire facilities; and whether the space available (5,000 square feet) would be adequate for services that would make a meaningful difference in the lives of Seattle’s growing homeless population.
A series of open meetings with community stakeholders, social services advocates and anyone interested, were held and alternative proposals were solicited. Two alternatives emerged from that process and Rasmussen believes that between them, there is a clear choice.
The Downtown Emergency Service Center, not only saves over a million dollars and has the potential to serve many more homeless people, the proposal includes counseling, job training and health screenings as well as hygiene and day center services.
Rasmussen is also committed to the needs of the surrounding community in Pioneer Square. Because of the cost savings in this preferred alternative, he is proposing improvements be made in the immediate area and in City Hall Park that could include better lighting, an increased security presence and other neighborhood amenities.
“We believe this plan will improve the quality of life in Pioneer Square and we will work conscientiously to make that happen,” said Rasmussen.
The Housing, Human Services and Health Committee will make a final decision on the downtown Homeless Service Center on Tuesday, February 15 at 9:30 a.m.
Please see attachments:
Comparing downtown Homeless Service Center proposals