For weeks, the City and County have deployed unprecedented resources and measures to help those experiencing homelessness during this public health emergency. The City’s Navigation Team is a part of that effort and continues to conduct critical outreach to vulnerable people living unsheltered during the COVID-19 response.
Since the first case of COVID was confirmed in King County, the team has focused exclusively on getting important public health information out to people living unsheltered and distributing hygiene kits. The team has also continued making referrals to shelter during the public health crisis, and remains one of the few groups continuing to conduct outreach in the field during the pandemic.
Over the course of the last few weeks, the Navigation Team has:
- Made 341 site visits across Seattle
- Talked to 1,733 people about COVID-19 and preventative measures
- Distributed 981 public health flyers
- Distributed 735 hygiene kits to people living unsheltered—the kits include paper towels, soap, and water for handwashing
- And, made 21 referrals to shelter
(The above figures are preliminary and may include duplicative data, however hygiene kits are unique. Shelter referrals for all outreach providers, including the Navigation Team, have been impacted during the COVID-19 crisis.)
Outreach will continue to conduct outreach to unmanaged encampments and to RV encampment sites if encampments are present during the COVID-19 response. The team remains one of the City’s front-line responses and it’s continued work supports the Human Services Department (HSD) Continuity of Operations Plan, which requires efforts to support people living unsheltered to continue during a crisis. Additionally, the team has been working with HSD and service providers to support the opening of de-intensifying shelters and overall City and County efforts to create safe sheltering spaces during the outbreak. Additionally, the team will connect people to the recently announced expanded hygiene services.
As we move forward, the City will continue to work with providers, the County, and public health to help those experiencing homelessness, however, this unprecedented deployment of resources will need the continued support of the state and federal government to create additional mass shelter facilities with personnel and resource