Following the completion of the RFP process to focus on longer term housing strategies, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, City Councilmembers, and Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) announced $1 million available to ensure a continuation of homeless services for current providers to ensure no shelters close this winter. With up to six months of funding for all operating shelters in 2017, the City is working with agencies to ensure no current shelter programs serving people experiencing homelessness will close in the upcoming months, including those offering overnight-only programs like those run by SHARE/WHEEL.
“As we double the number of people moving into permanent housing and create more 24/7 enhanced shelter beds and services, we must ensure a compassionate transition for those who depend on current providers,” said Mayor Durkan. “Our City must work relentlessly to move people out of encampments and off our streets into permanent and affordable housing. I’m committed to creating additional short-term shelter, including micro-homes, to provide safer, healthier alternatives to living outside for those experiencing homelessness.”
“I am pleased that all shelters currently funded will remain open this winter. I have heard many fears expressed that under the City’s new investment approach people will be pushed outside into the cold. That is not the case. Rather, the goal is to invest wisely in programs that care for people first – such as enhanced 24/7 shelters and more housing units. The City’s thoughtful bridge funding will get us to summer, and I applaud the work of Mayor Durkan and the Human Services Department in creating a regional system that will house more people respectfully. After all, everyone deserves more than a mat on the floor or a tent on the sidewalk,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (District 7, Pioneer Square to Magnolia).
“This critical funding will ensure that current emergency shelter beds for our neighbors experiencing homelessness will continue to be available, while at the same time we transition funding priorities toward 24/7 enhanced shelters for immediate needs. Ultimately, this is a step in the direction of funding permanent housing for those in need, with the support services necessary to keep that housing sustainable,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).
In November, HSD recently awarded $34 million in homeless investments for 2018 to move more people into housing, and to address racial disparities among Black/African American and Native American/Alaska Native communities. In the funded proposals, providers outlined their strategies to move more than 7,000 households experiencing homelessness into permanent housing in 2018.
For programs that have seen funding changes for 2018, HSD will be allocating resources and transition funds to ensure providers are eligible for short-term assistance while adjusting their operations. The department has assembled $1 million in funding, primarily from savings from projects in other divisions within HSD, staff savings, and other departmental administrative savings. There are 33 programs at 12 agencies who are eligible for transition funds to seamlessly continue operations from 2017 into the new year and for up to six months of 2018, which includes investments to DESC to enhance their shelter program.
“HSD is prioritizing service continuity in the response system even as there are changes resulting from the funding awards,” said Catherine Lester, Director of the Human Services Department. “We are working hand-in-hand with agencies to track each client, and to make sure there are adequate resources for them through this shift. Planning with agencies is beginning this week to determine how much time and funding each program needs to transition their programs to other funding sources or alternate services.”
The first priority is being given to shelter programs that are needed during the winter months. This includes those offering mats-on-the-floor, overnight-only programs like those run by SHARE/WHEEL, who did not receive ongoing funding in the RFP process. This transition time also allows for those shelters that were awarded funds through the RFP process to operate more 24/7-and/or-enhanced-shelters to come into full operation. These enhanced shelters include a place for people to stay inside longer, with fewer restrictions, and with more case workers and support, ultimately leading to moving more people into housing.
Secondly, HSD is providing some funds for programs that provide housing stability services such as rental vouchers for transitional housing, rapid re-housing, and/or permanent supportive housing. HSD is working with agencies offering these services to ensure these clients can remain housed and to identify staff impacts.
Finally, HSD is providing some funding to continue outreach and engagement as the city’s new outreach continuum that the department is organizing comes together. This funding will extend the work of providers such as the Downtown Seattle Association’s outreach team that currently canvases downtown and surrounding areas. Additionally, HSD will continue providing technical assistance as well as work on transition plans with providers such as Women’s Referral Service – Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services to ensure a seamless transition.
Through the RFP process, HSD funded 30 agencies and 98 high-performing programs that will double the number of people moving into permanent housing to more than 7,000 in 2018, up from the 3,026 projected households expected in 2017.
Appeals were made by 15 of the 57 agencies who applied for the Human Services Department’s competitive funding process, which prioritized programs that moved people into housing and focused on the disproportionately-affected Black/African American and Native American/Alaska Native populations. No appeals were upheld.
All applicants for the funding were notified of the award decisions on Nov. 27. Agencies were then able to file an appeal to the HSD Director on technical merits within five business days. The City then had five business days to respond to the appeal. For an appeal to “have merit,” the appellant must have demonstrated that there was either bias, discrimination, or conflict of interest; or that there was a violation of policies, or failure to adhere to guidelines or published criteria and/or procedures. All decisions were finalized within the timeframe established in the submission guidelines.