NEWS GLEAMS: Cold Weather Shelters, Recovery Fund for Rainier Valley Businesses, & More

curated by Emerald Staff

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!


✨Gleaming This Week✨


Photo depicting the Seattle skyline covered in snow.
Photo by LexScope on Unsplash.

Cold Weather Leads to Shelter Openings

Due to frigid temperatures this week, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) has coordinated with local organizations to open overnight cold weather shelters in Seattle and across King County.

Young adults (ages 18–24) living in South Seattle and in need of shelter from overnight temperatures predicted to dip into the 20s can go to a shelter located in the Rainier Beach neighborhood at 9416 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 (Phone: 206-331-2363 and 206-499-2974).

The shelter is open 24 hours a day and serves breakfast at 9:00–10:00 a.m., lunch at 1:00–2:00 p.m., and dinner at 6:00–7:00 p.m. 

Other south King County locations can be found below: 

In a press statement, KCRHA spokesperson Anne Martens says that they are currently focusing their limited resources on overnight shelter, and are directing people to existing Day Centers and public spaces for daytime warming options such as King County and Seattle Public libraries. 

A full list of shelters across the county can be found on KCRHA’s website at kcrha.org/2022/02/21/cold-weather-shelter/.



Photo depicting the exterior of Emerald City Fish & Chips with its iconic teal-blue and white striped awning.
Emerald City Fish & Chips was one of the grantees from public charity Pillar’s first round of funding. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Public Charity Launches Economic Recovery Grants for Rainier Valley Businesses 

Pillar, a public charity created in 2021 to support small legacy businesses in recovering from the ongoing economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, recently launched with an inaugural round of grantees and an open call for applications in Rainier Valley. 

According to a press release, Pillar identifies and partners with trusted local organizations to build its grantmaking approach. In Rainier Valley, Global Majority Consortium (GMC) co-led initial community outreach and grantee selection, which yielded Pillar’s inaugural round of funding. Grantees include the restaurants Umami Kushi, Island Soul, Emerald City Fish and Chips, Amy’s Merkato, and Brown Sugar Baking Company. The Elite Collective creative agency and historic venue the Royal Esquire Club are also receiving funds.

Given its unique IRS exemption, Pillar says it is the first philanthropic fund able to direct charitable dollars to for-profit entities. Individuals and foundations who contribute to Pillar will receive the same tax benefit as if making a traditional charitable gift, according to a press release.

Seattle-born Chris Hansen, who grew up in Rainier Valley, underwrote the start-up costs for Pillar and contributed the initial $5 million for grantmaking.

Small businesses located in or near Rainier Valley that have been in operation for three or more years are eligible for an initial recovery grant of up to $75,000. Those interested in applying can do so at pillarimpact.org/about-us.


Seattle Police Department officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle on May 31, 2020.
Seattle Police Department officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle on May 31, 2020. (Photo: Alex Garland)

Retirement Incentives Could Thwart SPD Hiring Plans

(Originally reported by PubliCola.)

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) estimates that its ranks could increase to 1,000 officers — still well below the department’s pre-pandemic size — by the end of 2022 if it is able to slow the pace of attrition, meet its optimistic hiring goals, and count on officers returning from long-term leave.

However, a bill making its way through the Washington State Legislature may throw a wrench in the department’s plans. The bill, which would increase retirement benefits for officers who have worked in law enforcement for 15 years or more, could spur some of SPD’s older officers to retire early, interim SPD Chief Adrian Diaz warned during a meeting of the Seattle City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

In 2021, 171 officers left SPD, and the department hired only 81 new officers, most of them new recruits, as opposed to transfers from other law enforcement agencies. In January 2022 alone, SPD lost another 20 officers, including 12 who opted to leave the department instead of complying with Seattle’s vaccine mandate for public employees. SPD hopes to hire 125 more officers this year and has avoided making any estimates about attrition, but the council estimates that the department may lose as many officers as it hires in 2022. Meanwhile, 170 officers are on long-term leave; some of those officers will return, but others are using their paid time off before formally retiring.

In a pitch to boost SPD’s regrowth, former Mayor Jenny Durkan debuted a hiring incentive program last October that offered up to $10,000 for new recruits and $25,000 for officers who transfer from other departments, though SPD spokesman Sgt. Randall Huserik told PubliCola in January that the incentives didn’t produce “any uptick in applications.” The council attempted to end the hiring incentive program in December of last year, but Durkan ordered SPD to continue offering bonuses to new recruits into the new year, erroneously claiming that the council’s vote wasn’t legally binding; Mayor Bruce Harrell finally stopped SPD from offering incentives earlier this month.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Public Safety Committee Chair Lisa Herbold and Councilmember Sara Nelson, who worked together as council aides for Nick Licata and Richard Conlin, respectively, clashed over whether to renew the hiring incentive program. Herbold argued that the City should consider expanding hiring incentives for all departments with staffing shortages, while Nelson argued that SPD’s staffing shortage demands a more urgent response.


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