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ICYMI: Continuing to Expand Hygiene Services, Shelter and Outreach to People Experiencing Homelessness

The City of Seattle announced a number of steps today to further expand hygiene services, add new shelter spaces, and continue outreach to people experiencing homelessness. This expansion of resources is a continuation of ongoing work by the City and County to bring critically needed resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
image of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The City of Seattle announced a number of steps today to further expand hygiene services, add new shelter spaces, and continue outreach to people experiencing homelessness. This expansion of resources is a continuation of ongoing work by the City and County to bring critically needed resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have been working around the clock to open shelters across the city. Since March 5, the City has opened shelters at Exhibition Hall, Garfield Community Center, Miller Community Center, Fisher Pavilion, and now T.C. Village—with more shelter opening at Bitter Lake and Lake Union Village. HSD has also planned for two other community centers to be made available for shelter. The department has also worked with King County to add isolation and quarantine capacity. City staff that help design these programs have also been deployed to operate these shelters 24/7 because service providers are stretched thin to operate and launch programs. All of these resources have been stood up in less than 50 days—in the midst of a public health crisis impacting every aspect of society.

In the midst of this public health crisis, assisting those who are the most vulnerable among us has been even more critical. With unemployment skyrocketing, we have worked to ensure more people aren’t falling into homelessness – it is why I moved quickly to halt all residential evictions, invest in a rent relief fund, and provide grocery vouchers. For our neighbors experiencing homelessness who are currently sheltered, we’ve prioritized standing up de-intensifying shelters with expanded services and worked with providers to ensure they have the resources they need like personal protective equipment for staff. For those living unsheltered, we’ve made investments in opening more hygiene service locations, and with today’s announcements, more people will have a bed to sleep on.

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan

More 24/7 Hygiene Stations and Re-Opened Restroom Facilities

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the deployment of six more hygiene stations. The new facilities are located at Victor Steinbrueck Park, Waterfront Park, 45th Avenue and I-5, St Vincent DePaul Food Bank, University Heights Center, and Bell Street Park. With the closures of community centers and libraries, these six facilities result in a total of 26 new portable toilets and 12 handwashing resources added in the past two weeks, addressing the urgent hygiene needs of the City’s most vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City worked in partnership with REACH and Public Health – Seattle & King County to determine station placement in high-need locations where they would have the most impact. Hygiene stations will be accessible 24/7 and serviced daily, with waste removal, needle disposal, and supplemental cleaning.  

In addition to the hygiene stations, Seattle Parks and Recreation has opened more than 50 facilities that were closed for annual winterization in recent weeks. Understanding the urgent need to provide increased access to hygiene services, City staff across departments have worked to account for all resources available and accessible to our residents. 

Providing public restroom facilities has always been a critical function of Seattle Parks and Recreation. Additionally, we have provided shower facilities to those in need for many years. These are essential services that our City must provide, and are now more important than ever as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19.  

Jesús Aguirre, Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent

While subject to change daily based on construction, maintenance, vandalism or cleaning, a comprehensive list of current resources with hours is available here

The City is also currently working with service providers to deploy two additional hygiene stations and two hygiene trailers with showers, toilets and sinks. 

Cherry Hill – Spirit Village

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) announced the opening of Cherry Hill – Spirit Village (T.C. Spirit Village), a tiny house village in the Central District with 25 units for people currently living unsheltered. This brand new tiny house village is the eighth location of its kind. The program is sponsored and named after the Christ Spirit Church and located on the church’s property.  

The Cherry Hill – Spirit Village will provide safe shelter spaces, access to hygiene services, and case management throughout and beyond the COVID-19 crisis for individuals experiencing homelessness. Although this project was already under development prior to the public health crisis, with the Mayor’s emergency powers, the village was established and opened months ahead of schedule to meet this need.

The City’s Navigation Team will coordinate all referrals at the village and will partner with the Chief Seattle Club and Seattle Indian Health Center to ensure that Native and First Nation clients are also served by the village. The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) will operate the new village and continues to be the operator for all of the City’s tiny house villages.   

Lake Union Village

Lake Union Village, an existing tiny house village in the South Lake Union neighborhood, has expanded by 20 units and is now accepting new referrals from the Navigation Team. This expansion brings Lake Union Village’s total capacity to 42 units. The increased capacity was announced in March, when Mayor Durkan exercised her emergency powers to expedite the siting and opening of emergency shelter to support people living unsheltered during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Lake Union Village was established in 2018 and is operated by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). Services at the village will increase to accommodate new residents referred to the village by the Navigation Team. Services include housing case management from LIHI and behavioral health support provided by LifeLong.  

Update on Navigation Team Efforts

To limit the spread of COVID-19 among unsheltered individuals, the Navigation Team has continued its growing focus on sharing essential public health information through one-on-one interactions, distributing more than COVID-19 and Hepatitis A hygiene flyers, and providing 1,663 hygiene kits through direct engagement. This work is being done in parallel with other direct engagements, such as connecting individuals to essential services and making referrals to shelter.

Since March 1, the Navigation Team has made contact with 2,768 persons, helping connect them to medical care and shelter, as needed:  

Where to get the most up-to-date public health information 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), DOH, and PHSKC have issued specific guidance to help communities and businesses prepare. You can find guidance for the general public, schools, workplaces and employers, travelers and health care professionals as well as a more detailed Q&A here.