Q2 data shows the most shelter referrals and enrollments ever recorded by the Human Services Department
Yesterday, the City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) submitted its 2021 Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) report to City Council providing Quarter 1 (Q1) and Quarter 2 (Q2) data outcomes for the city’s homeless outreach coordination team. The results show that in Q2 (April – June) of this year, the HOPE Team referred the most individuals to shelter and had the most confirmed enrollments into shelter ever recorded by City efforts.
“The HOPE Team has made tremendous strides standing up this new model and approach to supporting those living unsheltered in Seattle,” Tess Colby, HSD’s Interim Deputy Director on Homelessness, writes in the report. “Their collaborative efforts with outreach and shelter providers, City departments and community, have resulted in hundreds of people moving from encampments to safer spaces and on a pathway to ending their experience of homelessness.”
HOPE Team Background
Included as part of the 2021 budget, the eight-person HOPE Team changed HSD’s role to coordinating outreach to those experiencing homelessness in Seattle. Unlike the previous Navigation Team, HSD no longer leads encampment trash and debris mitigation efforts or encampment removal operations. Encampments in public rights of way, parks, and sidewalks are now prioritized by the departments that own or are responsible for the impacted properties.
The HOPE Team’s focus is two-fold:
- Coordinate outreach in partnership with contracted providers to support people living unsheltered across the city, including managing the referral process into City-funded “set-aside” shelter resources
- Ensure that individuals at encampments prioritized for removal by a property-owning department (i.e., Seattle Parks & Recreation, Seattle Department of Transportation, Seattle City Light, etc.) receive an offer of shelter by the HOPE Team or its outreach partners, with the goal of helping all those residing onsite into safer shelter spaces
“They are doing the work over the course of weeks in some cases to really identify the individuals on site, identify their needs and then make appropriate connections to available shelter,” said Kevin Mundt, the HSD strategic advisor overseeing the HOPE Team.
Quarter 2 Outreach Outcomes
In Q2, the HOPE Team made 432 referrals to shelter, the most recorded by HSD since tracking of this data began in Q4 2018. This was a 132% increase over Q1 2021 referrals, and were made based on 1,097 shelter recommendations from 17 different provider partners. Of these referrals, 95% were to 24/7 enhanced shelter or tiny houses which provide wraparound onsite services including case management, and housing navigation, to help end a person’s experience with homelessness.
The increase in recommendations and referrals reflects the availability of two new temporary hotel-based shelters that opened at the end of Q1 which added almost 200 hotel rooms to the City’s shelter system capacity and represented 49% of the shelter referrals from the HOPE Team in Q2.
Unduplicated enrollments into shelter also reached an all-time recorded high in Q2 with 214 individuals identified as enrolling into shelter at an enrollment rate of 52.1%, also an all-time recorded high. Note, tracking enrollments has been historically difficult as it requires comparing data collected by the HOPE Team and the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)—which are differing data sets. For instance, 24% of all HMIS shelter enrollments did not include a name, making it impossible to match them to any HOPE Team data. These challenges in tracking enrollments through HMIS are one of the data quality and metrics efforts that have been presented to King County Regional Homelessness Authority as an opportunity for re-design in the future.
The HOPE Team was part of HSD’s response to the record breaking heat at the end of June, performing wellness checks, handing out water and other basic needs supplies, passing out flyers about the available cooling shelters and services, and offering transportation to cooling center locations. This work was done in coordination with Heath One and other City department partners.
Quarter 1 Outreach Outcomes
In Q1, during its first months of operation, the HOPE Team made 186 referrals to available shelter spaces based on 433 shelter recommendations from 16 different outreach providers. Of these referrals, 94% were to enhanced shelter or tiny homes, including to the new hotel-based shelters that opened at the end of March, or tiny house villages. There were 79 confirmed enrollments in Q1 at a rate of 45.7%, the second highest enrollment rate recorded ever recorded by HSD.
In February, the HOPE Team led emergency outreach efforts during Seattle’s record breaking snow fall. In partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Team made wellness checks, provided people with winter supplies, and transported individuals experiencing homelessness to temporary emergency shelters. Following the closure of the temporary emergency shelters, the HOPE Team, in partnership with HSD’s Homelessness Strategies and Investments (HSI) division and outreach and shelter providers, helped coordinate efforts to refer 83 individuals into shelter and hotel placements.
“This isn’t the end of the story,” Mundt said. “There’s a lot of work to be done. There’s a lot of need, but this is progress.”