Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis with many causes. Those living on our streets face tremendous challenges, from the loss of a job or home to severe mental health or substance abuse disorders, that the City is working to help address. The impact this crisis has on the individuals experiencing homelessness as well as the broader community is a growing challenge. Originally, the State of Emergency on Homelessness was intended to invoke greater help from our state and federal partners, but over a year later, we are still waiting for that needed support.

The City has already implemented many initiatives and new resources in the last three years, led by Pathways Home, the plan to create a more integrated homelessness services system based on individualized services and measurable goals. This plan has the core mission of breaking down barriers to moving people inside. As part of the effort to tailor services, the City launched the Navigation Team, will be opening a new Navigation Center, and is implementing the Bridging the Gap plan to address the immediate needs of 3,000 people living on our streets. More than $100 million has been budgeted for this work over two years. 

Beginning Feb. 22, 2017, Mayor Ed Murray will be temporarily activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to accelerate and coordinate our response to the homelessness crisis in Seattle. Led by Director of City Operations Fred Podesta, activating the EOC will utilize a successful model to manage coordination of both internal departments and external partners to more urgently provide services and lower barriers to housing for people living on our streets. While work at the EOC will be centered around accelerating the work of Pathways Home and getting individualized services to people living outside, the collaborative model will also foster innovative ideas to address this crisis. Work at the EOC will include:  

  1. Accelerating the implementation of Pathways Home, the City's plan to address homelessness and the guiding principles of getting individualized services to people living unsheltered and getting them inside quickly.
  2. Launching the Navigation Team, a specially trained group of outreach workers and Seattle Police officers. Navigation Team members will go into unauthorized encampments throughout the city to help identify and implement individual solutions that break down barriers preventing unsheltered people from moving indoors.
  3. Addressing trash and associated public health hazards to provide a safer environment for both people living unsheltered and the community at-large. People living in unauthorized encampments are more vulnerable to crime and abuse, making this work critical to their safety.