New package of emergency housing strategies in time for winter
Dear fellow King County employee,
Today I am announcing a series of innovative actions to provide housing and services for the most vulnerable people in our community, and help them get on a path to permanent, stable housing.
Throughout King County government, we are constantly asking: what resources can we leverage to help people off the streets? What innovations can we deploy? What new approach can we try? These questions become all the more urgent as the days become shorter and colder.
The actions I am announcing today will help bring more people inside for the winter, and provide more outreach to those living on sidewalks, and in doorways, and parks:
- King County will operate a temporary 24-hour enhanced emergency shelter in the West Wing of the King County Correctional Facility, which has not been used for detention purposes since 2012. It would be converted to house between 125 to 150 single adults, and be operated under the oversight of the Department of Community and Human Services.
- We will open a day center in the first floor of our Fourth Avenue and Jefferson Street building to offer a safe, warm place for people staying at the three overnight shelters in the immediate area. Under my plan we will move the shelter operation, which currently offers 50 overnight shelter beds for adults on the ground floor, to the second floor, and use the ground floor as a day center so people have somewhere to come during the day and get connected to case management and housing navigation services.
- We will purchase modular housing units to create dormitory style bridge housing to help up to 160 people transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing in the community. The site for this facility is yet to be determined.
- We have also been working to convert Harborview Hall to overnight shelter space for 100 beds, and potentially expanding the shelter to 24/7 at a later date if feasible.
These actions would make a total of 285-310 new beds available by the end of the year, in addition to the 100 beds at Harborview Hall. They will have a positive impact on the areas surrounding our work locations in downtown Seattle by adding a new 24/7 shelter that people do not need to vacate in the morning, and giving people a day center to go to when the overnight shelters close at 7 a.m. They will also help more people get connected to services.
There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a housing and homelessness crisis in our region, and that calls for emergency actions. While it is necessary that we take these actions right now to help more people off the streets and into shelter by winter, our focus remains on getting people into permanent housing and helping them rebuild their self-sufficiency. We are steadfastly investing upstream to address the root causes that lead to homelessness. That’s where our efforts must continue and, working collaboratively with our regional partners, that’s how we will solve this crisis.
We will be constantly evaluating the impacts of these actions and work to address any issues that are identified. Your safety at work and the safety of visitors to our facilities is paramount.
Thank you for all everything that you do for King County. It’s the innovative thinking of our employees that will enable us to solve the biggest challenges facing our region.
King County Executive