About Us

Overview

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) is one of the largest contributors to Seattle's safety net. We advance our Vision and Mission by investing nearly $170M in contracts to more than 150 community organizations and programs that support strong and healthy communities. We do this work in close collaboration with the Mayor's Office, the Seattle City Council, King County, United Way of King County, Public Health - Seattle & King County, and many, many other regional partners.

HSD has nearly 400 employees and is organized through five divisions designed to deliver outcomes that work for community, promote innovation, and advance racial equity. These divisions are Youth and Family Empowerment (YFE), Mayor's Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA), Leadership and Administrative Division (LAD), Aging and Disability Services (ADS), and Homelessness Strategy and Investment (HSI).

2020 Priorities

Stand Up A New Regional Authority: HSD's divisions are leading the way with impactful work that touches every community in Seattle. One of HSD's top priorities is to stand-up and launch the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA). This includes transitioning HSI staff to a co-location space with their County peers this spring, followed by CEO on-boarding and development of a staffing plan. This big structural change not only impacts the City's efforts, but also requires an employee-centered approach to ensure services are delivered while ample time and support is provided to staff interested in transitioning to the KCRHA or pursuing a career elsewhere with the City.

Re-Envision HSD: With homelessness response transitioning to the KCRHA, HSD will redefine how it exists within the human services space. HSD is working with staff, service providers, and clients to co-create a roadmap for the future. This extensive work will examine form and function, culture, and future HSD outcomes. Ultimately, we want HSD to attract and retain the most talented people, while positioning HSD's programs as a national leader in addressing poverty.

Outcomes that Impact Community: While we conduct this re-envisioning, the collective work of YFE, MODVSA, LAD, ADS, and HSI will continue--through the lens of racial equity--to support programs, initiatives, and policies that address six key impact areas:

  1. Preparing Youth for Success
  2. Supporting Affordability and Livability 
  3. Addressing Homelessness
  4. Promoting Public Health 
  5. Responding to Gender-Based Violence
  6. Promoting Healthy Aging

Here are the top outcomes HSD's divisions are working towards in 2020:

  • Strong stewardship of tax dollars by working with Council and Mayor's Office to identify administrative, staffing, and indirect costs associated with increased investments. Continue to reduce administrative burden for service providers, resulting in stronger equity outcomes with community.
  • Prepare youth for success by assisting Seattle's youth and young adults to gain important career skills through the Seattle Youth Employment Program by serving 400 participants this summer and 200 participants during the school year, increasing investments in youth development and safety to reduce youth violence, and expanding healthy food access in out-of-school programs for kids in need.
  • Help make Seattle more affordable by providing excellent customer service and expanding the Utility Discount Program, which seeks to continue providing discounts to over 34,000 qualifying household and leading a $5 million effort to reduce sugary beverage consumption to address hunger and advance food justice.
  • Promote healthy aging and housing stability through access to supportive services for 38,000 older people, adults with disabilities and caregivers in conjunction with the Area Agency on Aging Plan, and in partnership with the King County Veterans Services and Human Services Levy to better serve communities of color. Maximize independence for 14,000 vulnerable older people and adults with disabilities who receive critical long-term supports to remain at home.
  • Respond to gender-based violence by managing investments totaling over $10.8 million and raising awareness through leading the first-of-its-kind Gender-Based Violence Conference in 2020 and by organizing a creative art exhibition at City Hall during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
  • Promote public health by investing in Seattle King County Public Healthinitiatives that address gun violence and reduce opioid abuse in communities across Seattle and the region, and continuing to support Community Health Centers, HIV Prevention and Education Programs, and Needle Exchange Programs. 
  • Respond to homelessness by delivering effective services that ultimately house people, while laying the foundation for KCRHA success. Continue to improve and support the Navigation Team model that connects vulnerable people to shelter. Respond to Council and Mayor's Office requests and continue to provide critical data updates and milestones for stakeholders. Continue identifying additional shelter and resource capacity to better serve people living unsheltered. 
As the Acting Director of the department, Jason Johnson leads nearly 400 staff who make HSD’s role as a grantmaker, planner, and direct service provider possible. In partnership with providers and stakeholders throughout the community, the department strives to effectively steward public dollars by investing in strategies, programs, and services that work for the community, promote innovation in service delivery, and advance racial equity.
HSD has developed a strategy for results-based accountability designed to deliver outcomes that positivey impact Seattle communities, promote innovation, and advance racial equity by addressing historical disparities.
How City of Seattle is using data to better serve all Seattle residents in seven key priority areas
HSD's work is funded by a variety of revenue sources, including federal, state and inter-local grants, as well as the City's General Fund. General Fund contributions leverage significant grant revenues to benefit Seattle residents. As a result, external grants represent 37.4% of HSD’s revenue, while the General Fund represents 58.2% in the 2020 proposed budget. In addition, $5.15 million of HSD’s revenue comes from the newly created Sweetened Beverage Tax Fund, representing roughly 2.3% of the department’s total budget in 2020. Approximately 1.5% of HSD’s 2020 budget is supported by Short Term Rental tax revenues, and the remaining 0.7% of HSD’s budget will come from the Unrestricted Cumulative Reserve Fund.