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Looking Back at 2021 as We Look Forward to 2022

Our Mission to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work, and take part in strong, healthy communities continued to hold a greater sense of urgency in 2021. Over this past year, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) continued to be one of the largest contributors to Seattle’s safety net, and our staff and community of human service providers continued to be a part of the front-line response to COVID-19. HSD also worked to advance our Mission by adapting programs and rising to challenges to ensure all of our communities have access to the opportunity to thrive. And we couldn’t do it without the partnership and efforts of friends and community members.

As we take on new bodies of work in 2022, we move forward committed to helping people grow up and grow old with opportunity and dignity and will work to support and empower diverse communities across Seattle. We are proud to share some of the highlights from 2021, and we are grateful for the help and hard work many of you provided us to realize these achievements.


Round sticker design with text I got my COVID-19 Vaccine #BestShotSeattle
  1. Aging & Disability Services (ADS) helped 14,000 clients secure COVID-19 vaccine appointments and 1,350+ in-home vaccine screenings. Staff also assisted in standing up 120 vaccine clinics in SHA building and other community-based locations.
  2. Wellspring reported distributing 70 checks totaling an additional $81,200 in cash assistance from the Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund. The cumulative dispersed amount for the Fund is 1,520 checks totaling $2,023,00 in cash assistance. The total amount dedicated to the Fund is $2,170,000.
  3. Seattle Relief Fund provided over $16 million in direct cash assistance for vulnerable low-income residents impacted by COVID-19.

Preparing Youth for Success:

Tilth Alliance staff and two SYEP interns standing out in a field
  1. Seattle Summer Food Service Program distributed 82,903 meals including lunches, breakfasts, and snacks at 39 sites throughout Seattle, including parks and Seattle Public Schools.
  2. Seattle Youth Employment Program (SYEP) supported 328 paid youth opportunities through its Earn and Learn program and employment internships, which ranged from environmental work to media production and much more.

Supporting Affordability and Livability:

Ad graphic with text including "We're here to help."
  1. HSD provided funding for 214,549 food bank visits (duplicated) and 1,457,972 meals through meal programs (at PSH, ES, and Community meals).
  2. 7,183 new Utility Discount Program (UDP) customers were enrolled.

Promoting Public Health:

  1. ADS staff helped lead the large-scale transition of the state’s “Get Care” Database which involved training and supporting 132 individuals and 32 agencies.
  2. The nationally recognized Mobile Integrated Health Program partnership continued to increase the service area for Health One and added a second Seattle Fire unit to respond to referrals, and announced the launch of a third unit in 2022.

Addressing Homelessness:

City employees assisting with Exhibition Hall shelter operations
  1. As the Homeless Strategy & Investment (HSI) division moved towards its year-end sunset the team held steady on its commitment to increase access to safer spaces and to keep COVID protections in place across shelters. In 2021, a net 380 new shelter beds were created by year-end, with 350 new 24/7 non-congregate shelter spaces in the last quarter. Currently the City funds approximately 2,800 total shelter spaces, a 700-shelter unit increase over levels at the end of 2020. Additionally, 92% of City-funded shelter spaces are now 24/7 enhanced with wraparound onsite services – this compares to 75% pre-pandemic (Q4 2019).
  2. The team has also been working to close out over 160 contracts that the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) will take on starting this month.
  3. And over the course of a nine-day severe weather shelter activation that ended January 3 in response to prolonged cold temperatures and snowy conditions, HSI staff, in partnership with service providers, the KCRHA, volunteers, and City departments, provided a total of 2,116 overnight stays across six emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

Promoting Healthy Aging:

  1. 2,351 people were reached via 22 Age Friendly Seattle virtual events in 2021 as the program continued to support learning and social connection through online programing including Civic Coffee Hours, Close to Home programs, an African American Elders’ Candidates Forum, Memory Sunday Brain Health & Dementia Awareness, and more.

Supporting Safe Communities:

Seattle Great Wheel lit up in purple at night
  1. Work continued in 2021 to stand up our new Safe and Thriving Communities (STC) Division. We hired STC’s first Division Director and acquired two SPD services: Crime Victim Advocates and Victim Support Team. And the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA) continued its work after moving into the division.
  2. STC staff conducted several funding processes to invest in community, including:
    • $500,000 in Regional Peacekeepers Collective
    • $600,000 to mitigate increasing gender-based violence during the pandemic

As we look ahead, please join us in celebrating these tremendous contributions and looking forward to what we will achieve together in 2022!