Addressing the Crisis

"While we cannot solve this crisis overnight, we must continue urgent action to make progress. We must work together to prevent more people from falling into homelessness, to bring more people off the streets and into safer places, and to pick up garbage, waste, and needles. As we do so, we must be accountable to Seattle taxpayers about the investments we are making, what is working, and where we need to innovate." - Mayor Jenny Durkan

Our City's Homelessness Investments

Last year, the City of Seattle made $68,098,060 in direct investments in the homelessness crisis - from rental assistance programs that prevent people from falling into homelessness to providing bridge shelter to picking up trash to building more low-income housing.

In 2018, Seattle is expected to spend around $78M in direct response to the homelessness crisis, with the majority of that being spent on emergency response (including shelter, hygiene and outreach services), and HSD-supported housing options (permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing and diversion services.)

Graph: Seattle plans to invest approximately $78 million addressing homelessness in 2018

Investment Area 1: Preventing Homelessness

Mayor Durkan's Seattle Rental Housing Assistance Pilot Program

Mayor Durkan announced the launch of her Seattle Rental Housing Assistance Pilot Program, which focuses on preventing households from falling into homelessness while on the waitlist for longer-term assistance. And in April 2018, the City began serving approximately 1,000 low-income households to provide a range of critical resources, including rental assistance and utility discounts as applicable.

Diversion and Rapid Rehousing

Diversion services offer people experiencing homeless one-time financial assistance or services to bypass shelters and move directly to housing. Diversion is offered to people who are homeless but have not yet or have just entered the shelter system. These programs offer financial assistance and/or case management to find creative solutions to the difficulties a person faces. Diversion can help people reunite with family, mediate with a landlord, or pay rent for a short time. Rapid Rehousing assists individuals to quickly exit the homeless services system and move to permanent housing. Rapid Rehousing offers a client rental assistance and supportive services for up to 1 year. A person successfully exits a rapid rehousing program when he is living in permanent housing without a subsidy.

Investment Area 2: Emergency Response

Safer Places Through Bridge Housing

Following Mayor Durkan's announcement to increase the City of Seattle's bridge housing and shelter units by 25 percent, the City of Seattle's Human Services Department (HSD) has been working with community and agency partners to bring these resources online and available to people experiencing homelessness. With Seattle's shelters continuing to operate near capacity on a nightly basis, new shelter capacity meets a critical need to create more safe spaces for people sleeping unsheltered throughout the City. 

Under Mayor Durkan's plan to create 500 new shelter spaces, the City has already opened a total of 209 safer shelter spaces this year, serving approximately 250 people experiencing homelessness. The following shelter resources are available now or will open in early September:

  • Whittier Heights Women's Village - 16 new tiny houses, serving women experiencing homelessness (Opened May)
  • City Hall Shelter - 80 new basic shelter beds at Seattle City Hall (Opened July)
  • YWCA Late Night Motel Vouchers - 20 additional motel vouchers for families experiencing homelessness (Opened July).
  • Salvation Army William Booth Center - 8 additional enhanced shelter beds (Opened July).
  • Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets - 5 additional beds within existing young adult shelter (Opened August).
  • True Hope Village - 35 new tiny houses in Seattle's Central District, serving 58 people experiencing homelessness (Open House August 29)
  • YWCA's Angeline's Center for Women - 35 new beds within YWCA's existing day center for women (Opening late August).
  • Navigation Center - 10 additional beds within the City's first 24/7, enhanced shelter (Opening September 4).

HSD is on track to create approximately 500 new shelter spaces by fall of this year. In addition to a master lease opportunity coming online this fall, additional capacity will be created by either adding or building new capacity at existing basic and enhanced shelters. Resources that are scheduled to come online in the coming months are:

  • Lake Union Village - 22 tiny houses serving 37 adults experiencing homelessness, scheduled to open in late September.
  • Bailey-Boushay House - In partnership with Virginia Mason, this shelter will serve 50 HIV positive men experiencing homelessness, scheduled to open in November.
  • Harborview Hall - In partnership with King County, this shelter will create 100 new beds at Harborview Medical Center.

The City will continue to work with community partners to identify and develop more shelter resources in the coming months. Please continue to visit this site for updates and progress as additional resources come online.  Additionally, Mayor Durkan's initiative also extends funding for three existing Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) shelters, which will keep 163 beds open for the remainder of the year.

Graph: Seattle will increase its shelter capacity by 25% thanks to Mayor Durkan's investments.

Cleaning Up Trash and Syringes

The City of Seattle makes significant investments to clean up trash resulting from the homelessness crisis. The numbers below have been updated to reflect ammounts collected as of August 29, 2018.

  • Removing Trash from Unmanaged Encampments: In 2017, City removed 3,205 tons (6,410,000 pounds) of garbage and waste from unmanaged encampments. In 2018, the City has removed more than 498 tons (986,000  pounds).
  • Trash in the right-of-way: In May 2018, Seattle began a new Citywide effort to remove garbage and debris from roads, sidewalks, and the public right-of-way adjacent to RVs. Started initially as a pilot in November 2017 in SODO, this new coordinated effort is led by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), SPD's Community Police Team (CPT), Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks), Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) in order to reduce negative impacts to public health and safety. The pilot is designed to engage RV occupants to voluntarily move their RVs, which allows City crews to clean and remove garbage, waste and immobile vehicles left behind. The City has collected 167,210 pounds of trash.
  • Litter bag pilot program: In January 2017, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) began a pilot program to collect trash from unsanctioned encampments and from areas where RV camping is frequent. Working with other City departments and community partners, SPU gives out litter bags and conducts regular and on-call pick-ups. The pilot has collected 612,140 pounds of trash - an average of about 30,600 pounds a month.
  • Syringes: In August 2016, SPU launched a program to collect syringes through complaints as well as special disposal boxes in City public rights-of-way and small bathroom units in City parks. The pilot has collected more than 111,760 syringes.

In 2017, Seattle removed over 6 million pounds of garbage from unsanctioned encampments

Day and Hygiene Centers

Day and Hygiene Centers provide a place to rest during the day and a place to tend to basic needs like using the restroom, showering and doing laundry. Helping Seattle's homeless population meet these basic needs and providing access to emergency services can help them to recover from homelessness and find permanent housing.

Navigation Team and Navigation Center

In 2017, the City of Seattle announced the creation of a new "Navigation Team" to connect unsheltered individuals with existing services and shelter. The team is staffed by contracted outreach workers and SPD personnel who have advanced certification in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques. The purpose of the team's approach is to bring more people inside and create faster resolutions to hazardous situations.

The members of the Navigation Team are primary access point for people served by the Navigation Center, a dormitory-style living facility that provides shower, bathroom, and laundry facilities, as well as meals and a place to store their belongings. Seattle's Navigation Center is open 24/7 and welcomes pets, couples, and individuals currently struggling with addiction, though no drug use is allowed on-site. The Navigation Center serves up to 75 individuals at one time. 

Beds and storage lockers at the Navigation Center

A service recipient at the Navigation Center

Permitted Villages

As part of Seattle's commitment to helping its unsheltered population, our City's response has included establishing City-permitted villages that provide safer spaces for those living on our streets. Seattle's seven permitted villages offer a place for unsheltered people to find stability and connect to housing resources. Each night, the villages provide more than 220 people a secure tiny house structure, access to restrooms and showers, case management, a kitchen, and a managed community.

To learn more about unauthorized encampments in Seattle, please click here. To view a map of unauthorized encampments and areas of emphasis, click here. To learn about the process for removal of encampments, click here.

What is Seattle doing to combat a lack of affordable housing in our region and address long-term solutions to our homelessness and affordability crisis?