Construction on the City’s Navigation Center, located in the Pearl Warren Building at 606 12th Ave S., is approximately 70% complete, and is on track for a summer 2017 opening.
The Navigation Center model is important as our community moves to more “low-barrier,” 24/7 shelters in which individuals do not have to meet certain screening criteria. The enhanced model provides supportive services, meals, laundry, and other amenities. This is similar to the “Compass at First Presbyterian” shelter in the First Hill neighborhood announced earlier in April in partnership with Compass Housing Alliance and First Presbyterian Church.
A planned dormitory-style living facility that provides shower, bathroom, and laundry facilities, as well as meals and a place to store personal belongings, Seattle’s Navigation Center also will welcome pets, couples, and individuals as well as their possessions. Once fully open, the Navigation Center will serve up to 75 individuals at one time. Residents of the Navigation Center must be referred into the Center from authorized outreach workers; it is not a traditional “drop-in” center.
While this model provides a safe place for people who are homeless to come inside off the streets, it also brings their possessions off the streets, contributing to a cleaner neighborhood. On-site staff will serve as liaisons with the community around issues that might arise involving the Navigation Center operations and oversee the grounds around the center. This new model is another step in implementing the Pathways Home plan, the City’s framework for addressing homelessness, and replaces the night-time only shelter that has been operating in the Pearl Warren Building for the past two years.
Mayor Ed Murray met with a group of community representatives in March to hear their concerns about the decision to locate the Navigation Center in the Little Saigon Business District, which is part of the Chinatown/International District. The siting of the Navigation Center followed the City’s normal process for siting a homeless shelter.
In the meeting, the Mayor acknowledged the community’s concerns and given the nature of this project, directed Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim, Director Catherine Lester (Human Services Department), and Director Kathy Nyland (Department of Neighborhoods) to work with City departments to address some of the key issues that have been raised by the community. The City is actively working with neighborhood and community leaders to develop a plan that addresses some of the key questions and concerns that have been raised—such as those about public safety, programmatic elements of the Navigation Center, and economic impacts on the surrounding small business district–to ensure the successful opening of the Navigation Center in the coming weeks.
Any delays in the schedule could impact the operations of the Navigation Center and the urgent work of bringing some of the most vulnerable people off the streets and into supportive services and shelter.
The City’s Human Services Department has contracted with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) to operate the center and offer shelter as well as supportive services and case management to quickly transition clients into housing. DESC’s mission is not merely to offer shelter, but to end the homelessness of our community’s most vulnerable people, through an integrated array of clinical services and supportive housing that allows men and women to reclaim their lives and reach their highest potential. They also will work with clients needing healthcare, including substance abuse treatment and mental health services. HSD is also contracting with Operation Sack Lunch (OSL) to provide food and meals on site. OSL’s mission is grounded in a commitment to addressing food insecurity by providing nutritional meals, education and advocacy in service of the most vulnerable.
“To best serve those living unsheltered in our community, our services must recognize the individuals left outside of our current system,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Some of our most vulnerable neighbors face mental health and addiction challenges, or have other individualized needs, such as partners, pets or possessions, that the Navigation Center is designed to address. This new approach to addressing the growing national homelessness crisis, which has impacted thousands here in Seattle, allows the City to fill a gap that has prevented many from accessing services and shelter.”