Tag Archives: Seattle Homelessness

Seattle and King County Receiving $26 Million in Federal Aid to Address Homelessness

by Emerald Staff


The federal government is releasing money to get people experiencing homelessness into stable housing through its coronavirus relief spending, and although the figure is substantial, it’s likely not enough to house all those who need it. According to a report released from Third Door Coalition last May, Seattle needs to build 6,500 units of housing over the next five years to adequately house its homeless population, at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion.

Continue reading Seattle and King County Receiving $26 Million in Federal Aid to Address Homelessness

Group Seeks Amendment to Charter Requiring Homeless Services and Clearing of Parks

by Ashley Archibald


A coalition of nonprofits, business organizations, and community leaders calling itself Compassion Seattle filed a charter amendment initiative Thursday, April 1, that they say would improve the existing response to homelessness in the City of Seattle. However, the measure does not specify the sources of funding for the ambitious package of housing and services it would offer. The measure will require a little over 33,000 signatures from Seattle voters to qualify for inclusion on the November ballot.

The amendment — which in its early stages was first reported on by Erica C. Barnett at PubliCola — would amend the City Charter, the foundational document of a city analogous to the U.S. Constitution at the federal level. The charter spells out the powers, functions, organization, and “essential procedures” of a city, according to the National League of Cities.

The heads of 11 organizations in Seattle’s business and nonprofit communities announced their  support of the measure, praising it as a valuable framework for addressing homelessness in the city.

Continue reading Group Seeks Amendment to Charter Requiring Homeless Services and Clearing of Parks

A Precarious Compromise on Homeless Outreach Inches Forward

by Erica C. Barnett

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


On Monday, Seattle City Council homelessness committee chair Andrew Lewis introduced a proposal that would restore funding for outreach to homeless encampments and lay the groundwork for what Lewis described as a new City “unsheltered outreach and response team” that would replace the controversial Navigation Team.

The surprising part is that the council and mayor’s office worked together on the legislation. 

Continue reading A Precarious Compromise on Homeless Outreach Inches Forward

Durkan Suspends Navigation Team

by Erica C. Barnett 

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


On Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced in a press release that she is suspending the operations of the Navigation Team — which removes encampments and provides outreach and shelter offers to their displaced residents — and pursuing “out of order” layoffs for 70 Seattle Police Department officers, “with the expectation that layoffs cannot be completed by November 1, 2020.”

The City Council’s adopted budget, which Durkan unsuccessfully attempted to veto, calls for a reduction of 100 police positions and the elimination of the Navigation Team. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navigation Team has not been removing encampments in significant numbers.

Continue reading Durkan Suspends Navigation Team

OPINION: Point in Time Count, 2020 Version: More of the Same. We Need Change

by Gordon Mchenry, Jr.


The results of the 2020 Point-in-Time Count demonstrate what we already know —  that we must  accelerate our approach to how we fight homelessness. The latest data reflect what we sense and see: despite all of our efforts, the number of people who are experiencing homelessness has remained too high, with only slight variations from year to year. Far too many of our neighbors are suffering from the trauma of homelessness, housing instability, the pandemic, and inequities rooted in race and ethnicity.

This latest count found an increase of about 5% more people experiencing homelessness over 2019 — and the survey took place before the coronavirus pandemic caused the economic disruption that led to widespread loss of income. We are especially concerned about the growth in family and chronic homelessness. And we recognize that we have yet to see the result the recession has had on our most vulnerable community members.

Continue reading OPINION: Point in Time Count, 2020 Version: More of the Same. We Need Change

Grassroots Mutual Aid Network Provides Services for King County’s Unsheltered Community

by Carolyn Bick


The wind catches Dee Powers’ short, wavy hair as they lean out of the window of the mobile home they share with their partner. Squinting in the sun, Powers banters with Daniel Ojalvo, who has come to drop off jugs of bleach and other supplies that Powers will divide into small amounts for distribution among the homeless community.

Both Ojalvo and Powers are part of the homeless mutual aid network, a grassroots effort that formed to serve the homeless community during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The community often doesn’t have access to regular sanitation or food in normal times, and has even less access now as the pandemic sweeps across the world. Much of the regular homelessness outreach has dried up, since it’s more difficult to do outreach safely these days. That’s where the mutual aid network, in partnership with existing nonprofits and other community organizers, comes in.

Continue reading Grassroots Mutual Aid Network Provides Services for King County’s Unsheltered Community

As Metro Considers Post-COVID-19 Future, Agency Leaders Resist Push for Crackdown on Homeless Riders

by Erica C. Barnett


It wasn’t so long ago — just 2018 — that Seattle could be proud of its status as the only city in the nation where transit ridership was actually going up, and the number of people commuting to the center city by car was going down. COVID-19 didn’t just reverse this trend; it obliterated it. Ridership on King County Metro buses is down about 73%, while ridership on Sound Transit’s light rail line has shrunk an estimated 70%. In an attempt to protect drivers from riders who might be COVID-positive, both agencies eliminated fares, and Metro implemented back-door-only boarding, in March. Both agencies also cut service, which has led to overcrowding on popular routes, such as the Route 7, that serve essential workers getting to and from the center city.

Continue reading As Metro Considers Post-COVID-19 Future, Agency Leaders Resist Push for Crackdown on Homeless Riders

OPINION: Seattle Must Stop the Sweeps and Build Tiny House Villages

By Reverend Angela Ying

How can Seattle have gone so wrong and become a city of people “sweeps?” The word calls to mind clean cities, such as Vancouver, Canada, and Toronto, Canada –– except sweeping is what they do to garbage. 

People are not garbage.

Seattle’s sweeps cost more than $8 million per year and has no proven track record of getting people into permanent housing. Continue reading OPINION: Seattle Must Stop the Sweeps and Build Tiny House Villages

There’s No “Rapid” Solution To Long-term Issues

By Margaret Desmules

Note from the author: In 2015, Mayor Murray declared a “state of emergency over homelessness” in Seattle. In the most recent count, there are more than 7,000 kids experiencing homelessness in King County. Multiple funders and organizations came together to form All Home, a coalition to end homelessness. A “homelessness consultant”, Barbara Poppe, was hired last year to provide recommendations to the city.

She made more than $100,000 from this contract and advised to close almost all transitional housing programs and fund a program called Rapid Rehousing, which pays for move-in costs and a few months rent for families experiencing homelessness. Rapid Rehousing has been successful in other cities, but with Seattle’s housing market, families are often set up to fail with Rapid Rehousing as it is difficult to pay such high rents after the assistance stops. The following is a single mom’s first-hand experience with Rapid Rehousing and navigating through Seattle’s homeless assistance services. Continue reading There’s No “Rapid” Solution To Long-term Issues

Community Voices Concern, Support at Othello Encampment Meeting

by Matt Mills McKnight

Last Thursday, South Seattle community members engaged with city officials at the New Holly Gathering Hall to discuss the Othello Village homeless encampment. Othello Village will start admitting tenants on March 8th. Continue reading Community Voices Concern, Support at Othello Encampment Meeting