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.

The City supports options for safer living spaces that meet the needs of the individual, provide a connection to housing and address racial disparities in how people are served in the homelessness services system. These are the principles in Pathways Home, which guides our homelessness policy, decision making and funding for homelessness investments. City-funded villages, emergency shelters and services, outreach and housing programs are essential pieces of an integrated homelessness services system. The success of these services is measured in the achievement of performance goals and the results are published quarterly in the performance dashboard. The City's core mission, shared by our partners King County, All Home and the United Way of King County, is to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time by reducing barriers to housing.  

The most visible demonstration of the crisis of homelessness in Seattle is people living unsheltered in tents, doorways and vehicles. In 2017, the City launched the Navigation Team to assist people living unsheltered in conditions that threaten their health and safety and that of surrounding community members. The Navigation Team offers connections to safer living spaces in villages, 24/7 enhanced shelters and available emergency shelters, in addition to individualized services to people who have lived outside for extended periods of time.

In 2017, Seattle activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to accelerate and coordinate our response to the homelessness crisis. Under this model, City departments and external partners are urgently addressing garbage and public health hazards to provide a safer environment for both people living unsheltered and the community at-large.