Immigrant Safety and Access Network

An increase in violent crime in our region over the last few years has taken a particular toll on young people, families, and communities of color, including immigrants and refugees. Immigrant, refugee, and non-English speaking families have experienced resource constraints, including lacking the adequate interpreter and translation services and accessible informational materials required to navigate supportive services during the unexpected death of a loved one. 

In response to their needs and feedback, Mayor Bruce Harrell signed an executive order in February 2023 to enhance access to information and reduce barriers to supportive services for immigrant and refugee communities. As a result, the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIRA) partnered with the King County Office of Equity and Social Justice (OESJ) to launch the Immigrant Safety and Access Network (ISAN), which established a network of community-based organizations that provide support for immigrant and refugee families who experience disproportionate harm from violence. 

During the 2023-2024 pilot program year, ISAN funded nine organizations existing programming, which included interventions and activities that help young immigrants, children of immigrants, and their families know their rights, navigate victim support services, understand law enforcement systems, and ensure that in-language communications are available throughout navigation processes.

ISAN’s overarching goals in the pilot year were to:  

  • Improve outcomes for youth and young adults from immigrant and refugee communities and their families who experience harm from violence and involvement in criminal legal systems.  
  • Build upon existing community initiatives that are not sufficiently funded. 
  • Decrease identity-based disproportional harm and outcome disparities. 

In May 2023, OIRA announced the awardees of the initial Request for Proposals (RFP) to provide interventions outlined in the executive order. Nine community-based organizations received a one-year, $25,000 service contract to enhance their existing programming by participating in networking, peer-learning, data-sharing, cross-referrals, and administering direct financial assistance to immigrant and refugee victims of crime. Given the limited funds available, OIRA approached the first year of programming as an opportunity to set baselines and pilot the network model. 

The partner organizations assisted roughly 685 individuals during the pilot program through workshops, training, classes, case management, direct financial assistance, and outreach efforts. The primary demographics served throughout the pilot program have been the East African, Latino, and Asian communities. 

The languages predominantly spoken by these communities include Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo, Somali, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, and English. The primary zip codes served were 98108, 98118, 98126, 98144, 98178, 98188, 98122, 98201, 98004, 98102, 98125, 98101, 98031, 98003, 98168, 98133. 98117, 98030, 98146, 98106, 98032, 98055, 98050, and 98104. The populations served are consistent with the communities most disproportionately impacted by gun violence in the region.    

For the 2024-2025 program year, OIRA issued an application for a second round of RFPs in April 2024 (King County is not involved in this round). 

Based on the extensive financial need and as gun violence in the community continues to rise, OIRA restructured the ISAN program to a primarily cash-assistance-based fund. For the 2024-2025 program year, OIRA contracted with three organizations for $66,000 each. There is a need for more direct financial assistance to victims and their families, as families are under significant financial strain due to unforeseen medical expenses, loss of wages, funeral fees, and more. 

The organizations that received funding for the 2024-2025 program year are: 

ISAN’s overarching goals in the 2024-2025 program year are to: 

  • Provide immigrant and refugee victims of gun violence and their families and those impacted by sudden, unnatural, and unexpected death with access to financial support to cover relevant needed expenses.
  • Help decrease the burden of the impacts of gun violence and sudden death on our immigrant and refugee communities.
  • Offer support for navigating resources through partnerships with community-based organizations and the ISAN network. 

Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

Hamdi Mohamed, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 1616, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94573, Seattle, WA, 98124
Phone: (206) 727-8515

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The mission of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs is to improve the lives of Seattle’s immigrant and refugee communities by engaging them in decisions about the City of Seattle’s future and improving the City’s programs and services to meet the needs of all constituents.