The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) has released Quarter 4 (Q4) performance metrics for the City of Seattle’s Navigation Team, which is comprised of contracted outreach workers, System Navigators (City outreach workers), Field Coordinators, and police officers that work to connect our neighbors experiencing homelessness to shelter and support services, while removing unsafe encampments with public health risks from public property.
Q4 represents the first quarter in which System Navigator data was fully available, which helps understand the impact City outreach workers have in connecting people to resources. These new positions were added in-mid 2019 and an additional System Navigator will be brought on in 2020. For many people living unsheltered, factors such as time spent outdoors, behavioral health needs, past history, their sense of community, all play a role in weighing shelter options offered to them by the Navigation Team’s System Navigators, police officers, and contracted outreach workers.
The Q4 data showed a continuing trend of the team contacting more individuals living outside and connecting people to shelter throughout the year. Contacts are many times informal conversations, initial efforts at relationship building with people living outside. Q4 data also shows the team continued to operate at a higher operational capacity, removing more unsafe encampments from public property and also cleaning up more than a thousand tons of garbage, waste, and debris.
For people experiencing long-term homelessness, repeated contacts reflect an important first step in developing relationships that will assist with an accepted offer of shelter. Although recording the number of informal contacts is not a standard data point collected from Citywide outreach service providers, the City believes that this number is important to understand trends month-over-month to better serve individuals living unsheltered. It is important to note that no other City outreach program, contracted or City-staffed, captures and reports data at the level of the Navigation Team.
With Q4 data now available, preliminary year-to-date are also available. Here are some of the key takeaways:
- Number of contacts with unique individuals increased 10% over the course of the year; from 737 in Q1 to 810 in Q4.
- 973 total (unduplicated) referrals to shelter were made in 2019
- On average, the team made 215 unique shelter referrals per quarter
- Average reported enhanced shelter availability increased over the course of the year
- 1,578 tons of garbage, waste, and debris were removed from public property, which is a 19% increase between Q1 and Q4
- 833 unsafe encampments were removed from public property throughout 2019
With the addition of System Navigators, the team’s outreach capacity has increased. System Navigators enter data in the NavApp and can transport people directly to shelter, which previously was the responsibility of the team’s contracted outreach operator. Stronger data and shelter connections helps the team ensure more people are ultimately enrolled into shelter. As previously reported, verifying who the team contacts and refers to shelter in the field versus who is then entered into a shelter database by a shelter provider is an incomplete analysis due to privacy opt-outs and differing data entry. HSD will continue to explore avenues for improving this analysis in the year ahead.
This post will be updated as more data from 2019 becomes available.