Tag Archives: Human Services Department

OPINION: Homelessness, Poverty, and the City Budget

by Jay Sygiel, Isaac Litwak, and Sawyer Hanners


Walking down the streets of Seattle, tents, tarps, and sleeping bags have become a familiar sight. The state of homelessness in our city can only be described as a human services emergency. To solve this dilemma, we must look at where it stems from. The primary cause of homelessness can be boiled down to two things: the cost of living and the income gap that plagues the city.

In recent years, 77,300 Seattleites (5,000 more than the seating capacity of Lumen Field) reside below the poverty rate. Of these people, more than 11,000 of them are homeless and half of those are unsheltered. But this statistic is not representative of the amount of people not having their needs met due to low/unstable incomes. The national poverty line is set much lower than what is considered livable in Seattle. For one person to live comfortably here, you must make around $72,092, which is over five times the national poverty line.

Over the past six years, rents in Seattle have increased 57% while the average salary has not scaled to compensate for that increase. Thus, the income gap is only getting larger, leaving the people of Seattle in the dust.

Continue reading OPINION: Homelessness, Poverty, and the City Budget

Last-Minute Push for SPD Hiring Incentives Fails

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


The Seattle City Council voted on Monday, Sept. 13, to shore up several of its own priorities for rethinking public safety using $15 million in savings from salaries left unspent by the Seattle Police Department (SPD) after another year of abnormally high attrition.

The council left almost two-thirds of the $15 million in the department’s budget, allowing SPD to cover the costs of downsizing — updates to timekeeping software to help deploy a smaller number of officers more efficiently, for example. Additionally, the council lifted a trio of provisos on the department’s budget, releasing roughly $8 million for the department to use as it wants.

Of the $5.2 million the council shifted out of SPD’s budget, $3 million will go to the Human Services Department (HSD) to fund grants to nonprofits specializing in alternatives to policing. The council set aside another $700,000 to stand up a new civilian crisis-response unit tentatively called Triage One.

Continue reading Last-Minute Push for SPD Hiring Incentives Fails

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

Despite “Suspension,” Encampment Sweeps Continue in the Chinatown-International District

by Erica C. Barnett


People wheeling suitcases, lugging hand baskets, and pushing grocery carts trailed slowly out of a large homeless encampment on South Weller Street Thursday morning, passing through police barricades and a crowd of onlookers as the city’s Navigation Team removed an encampment that, as recently as last weekend, included nearly 70 tents. About 30 police were on hand to escort an estimated 36 residents away from the area. Continue reading Despite “Suspension,” Encampment Sweeps Continue in the Chinatown-International District

OPEN LETTER: Tammy Morales Calls for Mediation Between LIHI and Nickelsville

Tammy Morales sent the following letter to the city of Seattle’s Human Services Department, Nickelsville, and the Low Income Housing Institute. It is reprinted here with permission. A petition calling for mediation between the organizations can be found here.

by Tammy Morales

Dear Nickelsville, Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), and Seattle Human Services Department Leaders,

I have immense admiration for the work that both LIHI and Nickelsville have done for years in serving our underserved homeless neighbors. Nickelsville, you have stood against corporate power in the city that wants to stop spending on human services. You have served the needs of our community members and have shown us that we can have permanent affordable housing.

Continue reading OPEN LETTER: Tammy Morales Calls for Mediation Between LIHI and Nickelsville

HSD Staffers, Community Seek Racial Equity In Human Services Department Director Appointment

by Aaron Burkhalter

City staffers from the Human Services Department, community members, and activists say that Mayor Jenny Durkan sidestepped the city’s own procedures and race-equity process in the appointment of Jason Johnson as the director of the Human Services Department (HSD).

Continue reading HSD Staffers, Community Seek Racial Equity In Human Services Department Director Appointment