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City Keeps Emergency Shelters Open For People Living Unsheltered

In the wake of severe and historic winter weather, the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) is extending its emergency shelter availability for people experiencing homelessness in collaboration with service providers and King County.

As part of the City’s response to the most snow and accompanying freezing temperatures in the last 50 years, HSD expanded emergency resources, opening over 550 emergency shelter beds, for people experiencing homelessness. As a result, people who have been living unsheltered, have come inside, creating an opportunity for case workers to connect them with support and services. Providing these ongoing spaces for people allows the City and King County to continue to deploy staff to the emergency shelters to assess people for needed resources, including housing. Additionally, it keeps emergency shelter operations going through predicted cold temperatures for the week of February 18-22.

“Our City staff, agencies, and County staff have come together and rolled up their sleeves in an unprecedented manner to help people in the longer term,” said Jason Johnson, Interim Director of the Human Services Department. “I am so proud of the City staff who have worked tirelessly for the past few weeks and over the weekend to ensure continuity of beds and the resources to connect with people we might not otherwise reach.”

As the City continues its assessments of individuals, the City and County are continuing to keep open emergency shelters as well as expanding capacity at existing shelters. The Garfield Community Center, the King County Administration building shelter, the added capacity at the City Hall shelters, the Frye Building, the shelter at 4th & Jefferson, and Ernestine Anderson will have available emergency shelter beds through at least Friday, February 22. As HSD has continually done in recent weeks, the department will continue to evaluate its capacity at emergency shelters as well as the progress being made to assess individuals before fully closing its emergency shelters.

Salvation Army, who has been operating the Seattle Center shelter since February 7 will no longer be able to do so because of staffing availability. Clients from there and from the Bitter Lake Community Center, which must open its before and after school programs, will be transported with their belongings to the other available shelters by the Navigation Team and the Parks and Recreation Department.  Youth and family service providers such as Mary’s Place and PSKS are continuing create all necessary capacity for families of young people who may visit the City’s emergency shelters.  The City currently has 2,079 shelter beds and 328 tiny homes in the City’s ongoing emergency response system.

King County and the City have asked all staff who regularly assess people experiencing homelessness for their housing and service needs to set up at the emergency shelters to register as many as possible.

Severe Weather Resource Fair

HSD, in partnership with more than 20 community partners, and more than 113 volunteers, hosted a three-day resource fair from Friday, February 15 through Sunday, February 17, at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.  The resource fair was designed to connect people who are staying in our severe weather shelters with available services to support relationship development, service connection, and as much as possible, connections to housing.  The Resource Fair was developed and launched in less than a week, as a rapid response to the intense weather situation. Approximately 200 people seeking services attended the fair, accessing over 700 services, including housing assessments, diversion from the shelter system altogether, and even opportunities to apply for jobs.