The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) has announced the temporary de-intensifying shelters at Garfield, Miller, and Southwest Teen Life (SWTLC) community centers have relocated to new spaces. These moves follow months of planning, community outreach, and partnership with service providers to ensure new and existing shelter programs are compliant with public health requirements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Seattle’s shelter system.
Moving the temporary shelters out of community centers allows for Seattle Parks and Recreation to operate childcare and teen learning programming at these sites across. This programming provides childcare, recreation activities, and wifi to provide access to online learning. All programming will follow public health guidance, including wellness screenings, temperatures checks, face coverings, and sanitization.
Garfield, Miller, and SWTLC de-intensifying shelters are managed by Catholic Community Services (CCS), Compass Housing, and YouthCare, respectively. These services providers moved existing programs into the community centers at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and are now moving these programs to either new sites or improved existing spaces.
All new or improved sites align with Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC) COVID-19 health and safety requirements and are configured to maintain the same number of people served. PHSKC staff assisted in assessing and planning the new spaces, and the Seattle Fire Department inspected locations for code compliance. New sleeping spaces are configured to maintain at least 6’ between beds, meal delivery is coordinated to reduce contact between guests, and ventilation is improved to meet the guidelines set by PHSKC.
Garfield Community Center temporary women’s shelter, which was managed by Catholic Community Services (CCS), moved to a new 24/7 enhanced shelter that will permanently replace seven small faith-based overnight only sites. The new shelter, located at the CCS owned MLK Day Home site in the Central District, will host up to 40 beds and will operate under PHSKC COVID-19 safety requirements. The new site has private sleeping areas, showers, laundry, and meals. Professional case management will be offered to help clients find permanent homes. CCS and HSD worked with community members to hold several meetings to discuss the impact of the shelter on the neighborhood and ensure accountability and partnership.
Miller Community Center temporary men’s shelter, which was managed by Compass Housing, will ultimately move 45 clients to a new space at Compass Housing’s 210 Building. In the interim, clients will stay at the Queen Anne Shelter while Compass completes construction and improvements at the new location. These new and repurposed spaces are being stood-up under PHSKC COVID-19 safety requirements and will offer the men private spaces with storage for belongings, meals, hygiene, and access to housing case management.
SWTLC temporary youth and young adult shelter, which was managed by YouthCare, will temporarily move to The Christ Spirit Church in Beacon Hill through the end of the year while YouthCare’s new permanent facility in South Seattle is completed. YouthCare’s shelter program serves up to 15 young adults. Both the temporary space and the future home of YouthCare will meet PHSCK COVID-19 safety requirements and will continue to offer housing search supports to help clients address barriers to permanent housing.
HSD and service providers began preemptively moving shelter clients and programs out of traditional congregate shelter spaces earlier this year into de-intensifying shelters that would allow for social distancing, offer enhanced services, and provide better hygiene access. These redistribution efforts were done under the guidance of PHSKC and have helped limit the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations that use emergency shelters.
The City opened de-intensifying shelters at Exhibition Hall, Fischer Pavilion, Garfield Community Center, Miller Community Center, and SW Teen Life Center. Loyal Heights Community Center was made available as de-intensifying shelter but was not been utilized by a shelter provider during the pandemic. Through these three community center de-intensifying shelters, the City created up to 150 safer shelter beds to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The de-intensifying shelters offered improvements for some clients, including 24/7 access, meals, and hygiene services. These efforts—coupled with HSD’s opening of new shelter space at tiny house villages and enhanced shelter—helped the City provide safer shelter to vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there has not been a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 at these de-intensifying sites.
The de-intensifying shelters at Fisher Pavilion and Exhibition Hall will continue to operate at Seattle Center and are not impacted by this announcement.
Garfield, Miller, and SWTLC served 256 unique individuals total between March 1 and late August 2020, according to preliminary program data available to the City.