Imagine traveling with all your belongings piled in bags, and carrying them to one agency for a shower, to another for laundry, and still another for a mat to sleep on. This is what many people experiencing homelessness must do on a daily basis to get these and other needs met.
In 2018, the Human Services Department (HSD) has increased funding for enhanced shelters which offer hygiene services for their clients, plus support like case management, onsite amenities, and extended hours to help consolidate some of the services being offered to people experiencing homelessness.
Of the 1,464 City-funded shelter beds in 2018, 85% are enhanced shelter beds, an increase of 561 over 2017, and 15% are mats-only shelter beds. While some mats-only shelters offer additional services to clients, most do not, which means that many people experiencing homelessness are forced to go door-to-door to tend to basic needs.
The City has increased its investment in enhanced shelters to provide places to rest and tend to daily survival needs. In fact, 21 of 22 shelter programs funded in 2018 will include hygiene services. Across all homeless services programs, 88% of programs provide hygiene support – a 6% increase over 2017.
Helping people find and maintain stable housing is the key to addressing the crisis of homelessness. Because enhanced shelters with services are much more effective than mats-only shelters in helping people find housing, HSD encouraged overnight shelter and day center providers that applied for City funding to work together to provide extended-hours and services to people experiencing homelessness. We are pleased with the providers’ response and creativity to offer these one-stop care locations.
HSD is also supporting the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) Urban Rest Stop program with $540,000 to provide standalone hygiene services, such as showers, toilets and laundry services. These funds support Urban Rest Stop locations in Ballard, the University District, and downtown Seattle.
The City of Seattle is supporting a homeless services system that focuses on helping people find and maintain stable housing. With finite resources, the City is investing in programs, like enhanced shelters, that provide connections to housing for people experiencing homelessness. Programs that do not provide an intentional connection to housing were not prioritized for City funding this year. To help clients transition to other services, HSD has created a bridge funding plan to assist programs that were not awarded 2018 City funding. Two standalone hygiene programs will receive support through March 18, 2018. Because the City is not the sole funder for homelessness programs, agencies may choose to look for funding from an alternate sources to continue providing standalone hygiene services.