The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) has released Quarter 2 (Q2) performance metrics for the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team, which is comprised outreach workers, field coordinators, and police officers that work to connect people living unsheltered to shelter and support services. The Q2 data shows the team working at a higher capacity, connecting more people to shelter when compared to the first quarter of 2019, and increasing operational capacity to better address unmanaged encampments posing public access, health, and safety concerns.
“I’m incredibly grateful to the members of the Navigation Team for their life-saving work. This new data shows that our Navigation Team is doing more than ever to connect people with the services and housing they need and help them come inside. The investments we have made are having an impact. We will continue to invest in the strategies we know are making a positive difference – like our Navigation Team and enhanced shelters that provide services and a better path to permanent housing,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “With improved data, we can now better measure our progress each quarter and ensure that we improve on what is working. We know our Navigation Team is connecting more people with services and we are looking for ways to improve their work. I hope that the City Council will continue to support our investments expanding the Navigation Team.”
When compared to Quarter 1 (Q1), the Navigation Team saw the following increases in Q2:
- 16 percent increase in unique individuals engaged by the Navigation Team;
- 10 percent increase in unique individuals referred to shelters;
Navigation Team reserved beds available daily, rising from 17 beds available in
- More beds available in basic shelters, tiny house villages, and enhanced shelters; and
- 79 more referrals to enhanced shelter and tiny house villages than in Q1.
This increase in outreach results in Q2 occurred during a period when the Navigation Team also expanded its operational capacity, removing 18 more encampments under 72-hour notice protocols and 36 additional obstruction removals from the public rights-of-way when compared to Q1. The team also removed 405 tons of garbage, waste, and debris from Seattle’s streets during this time, a 14 percent increase over the previous quarter. The team also completed 160 more site inspections in Q2 than Q1 (Note-Operational figures are subject to change as data entry is completed and updated by partner agencies).
“The recent data shows investments made by Mayor Durkan and City Council are working in concert, connecting vulnerable people to shelter while making sure public health, safety, and access is improved in Seattle,” said Jason Johnson, director of HSD. “From investing in over 500 more shelter spaces last year, to the hiring of System Navigators to increase outreach and increases in data support this year—changes to the Navigation Team and the homelessness response system are creating positive results.”
The full report includes detailed metrics on several data sets and can be found here.
The Q2 data allows policymakers and the public to effectively compare the Navigation Team’s performance over a period of time. Many of the resources and strategies utilized by the Navigation Team today were not yet developed when the team launched in 2017. Over time, it became clear that more robust support was necessary to sustain the Navigation Team’s long-term mission to connect vulnerable people to shelter and services and to better measure the team’s output.
To address these realities, Mayor Durkan made historic investments to create over 500 new shelter beds in 2018 and added staff to the Navigation Team. Between 2017 and 2019, the team expanded to 38—which includes police officers, REACH outreach workers, additional Field Coordinators, data analysists, and System Navigators to expand outreach —the latter beginning work in June 2019.
While the new data capacity strengthens understanding of the team’s impact, it also highlights an evolution in how outreach data can be examined. The way outreach data was collected and measured between 2017 through 2019 differs. For example, 2017 data was manually collected by various groups and entered manually by a single individual. 2018 data provided by the City’s contracted outreach provider included duplicated information. Also, in 2018, the team’s operations moved to HSD, which created challenges and opportunities for improvement. Now—thanks to the addition of HSD staff dedicated to data collection and protocols—the outreach and operational data is more robust and can now be more easily measured quarter-to-quarter moving forward.
The Q2 data was submitted as part of a quarterly report to the Seattle City Council. Data from the Q1 report is available here.