Tag Archives: Homelessness

With Future of Tiny Houses Up in the Air, Advocates Push for Action This Year

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Advocates and city councilmembers are putting pressure on Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City’s Human Services Department (HSD) to move forward with three new tiny house villages — groups of small shed-like shelters for people experiencing homelessness — this year, before the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) takes over the City’s homelessness-related contracts in 2022.

The short-term (and at this point, probably quixotic) goal is to convince Durkan and HSD’s short-staffed homelessness division to commit to moving forward with all three villages before the City’s homelessness contracts move to the KCRHA at the end of the year. The long-term goal, which may be equally quixotic, is to demonstrate strong community support for tiny house villages in the face of strong opposition at the new authority, whose leader, Marc Dones, has no allegiance to what has become conventional wisdom at the City.

Earlier this year, the Seattle City Council adopted (and the mayor signed) legislation accepting $2 million in state COVID-19 relief funding to stand up three new tiny house villages and setting aside an additional $400,000 to operate the villages once they open — the Seattle Rescue Plan. Since then, HSD has declined to issue a request for proposals to build the villages, arguing that the council doesn’t have a long-term plan to operate the villages after this year. The longer HSD waits, the more likely it is that the job of deciding whether to stand up additional tiny house villages will fall to the regional authority.

Continue reading With Future of Tiny Houses Up in the Air, Advocates Push for Action This Year

Colleen Echohawk Joins YouthCare as Interim CEO

by Ben Adlin


Youth housing and services provider YouthCare, which operates an emergency shelter for young adults in Rainier Beach, announced Wednesday, Sept. 15, that longtime affordable housing advocate and former Seattle mayoral candidate Colleen Echohawk has joined the organization as interim CEO. 

Echohawk, who last May stepped down from a seven-year stint as executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, a Native-led housing nonprofit based in Pioneer Square, said she’s “honored” to step into the leadership role at YouthCare.

“To me this seems like a very natural fit, to jump in alongside the staff and the executive team and the board at YouthCare to support their work [and] to provide some leadership, especially around the areas of diversity and inclusion and racial justice,” she told the Emerald. “That is the heart of the work that I get to do, and I’m excited to join a team that has been providing some of the most essential care for youth here in Seattle.”

Continue reading Colleen Echohawk Joins YouthCare as Interim CEO

Harrell Says He’ll Implement Key Provisions of ‘Compassion Seattle’ Measure, Clear Encampments

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


At a press conference a few hundred yards from an encampment in Woodland Park on the morning of Thursday, Sept. 2, mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell said that if elected, he would implement the key elements of Charter Amendment 29 — the “Compassion Seattle” ballot measure. A King County Superior Court judge tossed the initiative last week, agreeing with opponents that things like budgets and land-use policy are outside the scope of local ballot measures, but the campaign appealed to the Washington State Court of Appeals, whose ruling could come tomorrow.

Harrell’s “Homelessness Action Plan” would require the City to spend 12% of its general fund on homelessness, build 2,000 new emergency housing (shelter) beds within one year, create individualized “service plans” for every person experiencing homelessness, and, as Harrell put it, “ensure that our city parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces, sidewalks, and streets remain open and clear of encampments.” These proposals are all identical to provisions of Charter Amendment 29, which Harrell supported.

At Thursday’s event, which was billed as a press conference but resembled a campaign rally, Harrell fielded questions primarily from a large group of supporters rather than the assembled press. “If and when you become mayor, how soon can we as Green Lake citizens expect to see these encampments gone?” one supporter asked. “I will say January or February, because I work with a sense of urgency,” Harrell responded.

Another asked how he’d respond to critics who say that his plan would mean sweeping encampments without providing services. “Look at my record,” Harrell responded. “There are no dog whistles. I don’t have a dog whistle. And I say, how dare people say that, when my wife and I’ve been doing this for 20, 30 years.”

Continue reading Harrell Says He’ll Implement Key Provisions of ‘Compassion Seattle’ Measure, Clear Encampments

OPINION: Courthouse Assault a Symptom of Failing Systems, Not Individuals

by Erica C. Barnett 


Last week, a 35-year-old man who had been released from jail less than one week earlier attacked a county employee in a women’s restroom at the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. The assailant, a Level 1 sex offender with a history of attacking women, told detectives he had smoked “homemade meth” immediately before the attack. A police report filed after the incident indicates the attacker, who is a person experiencing homelessness, may suffer from mental illness.

The particulars of this case might lead a reasonable person to conclude that people who commit sex offenses need closer monitoring once they’re released from custody, along with access to housing and mental health care to prevent them from reoffending once they’re released.

Instead, the assault became a symbol for conservative officials, who suggested “solutions” that included sweeping dozens of homeless people from a nearby encampment and directing women to change the way they behave in public. 

Continue reading OPINION: Courthouse Assault a Symptom of Failing Systems, Not Individuals

Then and Now: Seattle’s Plan for Homelessness From 2010 to 2020

by Luke Brennan


Over the last decade, Seattle and King County have taken various measures to support people living without permanent housing. In 2015, King County was investing $36 million a year to assist people living unhoused and at risk of becoming unhoused. 

Despite these efforts, homelessness has been on the rise since 2010, with increasing rent prices as the likely culprit. 

Continue reading Then and Now: Seattle’s Plan for Homelessness From 2010 to 2020

City Expected Encampment on School District Property After Sweeping Nearby Park

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)


During an often rowdy public forum in the cafeteria of Broadview-Thomson K-8 school last week, Seattle Public Schools Deputy Director Rob Gannon said the school district is working slowly toward a plan for moving more than 50 unsheltered people off school district-owned property behind the North Seattle school. The City of Seattle has refused to assist the school district in sheltering or housing people living on the property, and the district has turned to a small nonprofit called Anything Helps with the goal of getting everyone off the site by September.

Continue reading City Expected Encampment on School District Property After Sweeping Nearby Park

City Council Forum Addresses Displacement and Exclusionary Zoning

by Andrew Engelson


Seattle City Councilmembers Tammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda sponsored an online forum on July 22 to explore issues surrounding displacement and exclusionary zoning that could fundamentally change the way Seattle grows in coming decades.

Continue reading City Council Forum Addresses Displacement and Exclusionary Zoning

Homeless Service Providers, City Employees Told to Use Encrypted App

by Erica C.Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


One of the leaders of the Homelessness Outreach and Provider Ecosystem (HOPE) Team, a Human Services Department-led group that coordinates outreach work at encampments, directed city staff and nonprofit outreach contractors earlier this year to stop using text messages, which are subject to public disclosure, to communicate about homeless encampment outreach and removals.

Instead, the HOPE Team leader, Christina Korpi, wrote in an April 8 email that staffers should use Signal, an encrypted private messaging app commonly used by activists, journalists, and others who want to shield their messages so that they can’t be read by anyone except the intended recipient. Signal can be set to auto-delete messages on both the sender and the recipient’s phones, making them impossible to recover.

In Korpi’s email, which went out to dozens of outreach providers and at least eight city staffers, including the members of the HOPE Team, she wrote, “We are planning to start using the Signal app instead of text message thread for field communications. Please download this app on your phone, or let me know if you have concerns or questions about using it.”

Continue reading Homeless Service Providers, City Employees Told to Use Encrypted App

OPINION: Don’t Be Fooled by ‘Compassion’ Seattle

by Tiffani McCoy and Jacob Schear


Throughout June, many Seattle voters have likely come into contact with paid signature gatherers wearing badges with purple and magenta rainbows stationed outside of grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. They will ask you to sign their petition to “solve the homelessness crisis.”

These paid signature gatherers are working to get the “Compassion Seattle” charter amendment on the November ballot. If Compassion Seattle passes, this amendment would be added to our city’s charter.

Continue reading OPINION: Don’t Be Fooled by ‘Compassion’ Seattle

‘Eco Blocks’ Are Concrete Signs of Seattle’s Failure to Address RV Homelessness

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article was originally published by PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement).


Drive through Seattle’s industrial areas — Georgetown, South Park, parts of Ballard, and SoDo — and it’s hard to miss them: Bulky, horizontal concrete blocks lined up like giant Legos along the sides of the street, preventing large vehicles from parking by the roadside.

Continue reading ‘Eco Blocks’ Are Concrete Signs of Seattle’s Failure to Address RV Homelessness