Over the last several months, the City has been working to mitigate impacts of the tent camping along the entire Spokane Street corridor as we determine a long-term plan for the area. With the Navigation Team’s success (see more below) of moving people to alternatives safer than living on the street, there is currently a limited number of alternative spaces available that match the needs of the growing population at this location. Therefore, we’ve adjusted the schedule for removal of these encampments to better match the availability of safe alternatives.
In the meantime, the City has been focusing on service outreach and garbage removal. The Navigation Team has been repeatedly connecting with individuals living there, conducting outreach to offer supportive alternative living arrangements and other services. Additionally, the City works with people to address the trash, passing out garbage bags, identifying collection spots and scheduling pick-ups.
Fortunately, with the opening of Compass Housing Alliance’s new 100-bed 24/7 shelter at the First Presbyterian Church at the end of this month, we will have much needed space available soon. Prior to this morning’s shooting, we had established a four-week plan for addressing the camping along the Spokane Street corridor. The plan begins with notice to be posted tomorrow to alert all individuals on site that the Navigation Team will be conducting repeated outreach during the next several weeks prior to gradual closure beginning the week of Sept. 11.
Spokane Street Corridor Intensive Outreach Plan
Beginning Monday, Aug. 28, the Navigation Team will be collaborating with additional service providers to conduct targeted outreach to individuals living along Spokane Street from Airport Way to First Avenue. During repeated engagement with individuals in this area over the last several months, the Navigation Team has identified a number of challenges within this population, including substance use disorder, mental health disorder, unemployment/under-employment, chronic medical conditions, legal issues/justice involvement and sex work. To provide a comprehensive response, the Navigation Team has reached out to numerous partners who can better meet the needs of some individuals.
The Navigation Team will be joined by the following partner agencies: DESC-HOST, REACH, LEAD, Metropolitan Improvement District (MID), University of Washington/Harborview, Pioneer Human Services, Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST), Valley Cities, Seattle Central Colleges, YouthCare, Veteran’s Affairs, UGM, Salvation Army, Millionair Club.
Beginning at 10 a.m., collaborative, “need-specific” outreach will be deployed, so individuals will receive engagement from agencies that meet their specific needs. To those interested, service offers will be immediate and will include substance use recovery options, mental health treatment, coordinated entry housing assessment, relocation to appropriate alternative living arrangements, reconnection with family or other support systems, disruption of ongoing sex trade including exploitation of vulnerable individuals.
In addition to alternative spaces available to the City’s Navigation Team, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (UGM) has set aside 10 men’s program beds and 10 shelter beds along with five women’s shelter beds and five program beds for Spokane Street area referrals. In addition, the Salvation Army has committed to holding all beds that become available for Spokane Street referrals.
Navigation Team Success
From Feb. 20 through Aug. 11, the Navigation Team made 4,199 total contacts to a total of 1,157 individuals. Of those individuals, 721 accepted some sort of service, including 419 who relocated to alternative living arrangements. For more on the Navigation Team, see the Seattle Channel Spotlight.
Spokane Street Background
Following the removal of the RV encampment at the west end of Spokane Street that was conducted after a significant RV fire in early April, the City fenced most of the right-of-way under the viaduct to deter RV parking/camping at that end of Spokane. This is where the low bridge structure presents more of a concern for concentrations of flammable materials such as pallets and mattresses, and a likelihood of open flames or vehicles with mechanical issues. This deterrence effort has been relatively successful, while the temporary fencing along several blocks still allows entrance for commuter parking, which is an intended use of that right-of-way.