With the recent election of Mayor Bruce Harrell and selected Seattle City Council members, along with the launch of the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority with CEO Marc Dones at the helm, we are seeing a number of positive systemic changes to address the ongoing and complex problems of homelessness in our community.
While we are not yet out of COVID-19 pandemic considerations, here are some updates to the information below.
UPDATE – current City and County response to homelessness
What is being done now about homeless camps?
– Camps are being addressed on an individual basis and removals are occurring, typically with some weeks’ lead time of on-site outreach, the objective being to help campers move into supportive shelters and/or housing, rather than moving to another location on the street.
– Reporting camps and trash dumps via the Find It Fix It app or the City’s Customer Service Bureau, is still important for the City to be informed of camp locations and conditions.
What is the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (RHA) and how does it impact homelessness?
– The Regional Homelessness Authority was created as a one-stop source of assistance and programs to resolve homelessness. The RHA will also coordinate homelessness response across the county and not just in individual cities.
What about parks and green spaces? Does the City even care about keeping them open for all users?
– The City has consistently emphasized the importance of parks and green spaces being accessible and available for all users, in City Council meetings earlier this year.
What is the good news? Is there relief on the horizon?
– The new CEO of the Regional Homelessness Authority, Marc Dones, has extensive experience with problems of homelessness and strategies in cities all over the country. Marc is a visionary who has the ability to inspire and bring people together around this important cause, and Marc has already created “quick-start” strategies for the RHA to reduce or eliminate bottlenecks, and for programs that are centered around the needs of those living outdoors.
– The Mayor’s office, In reporting to the City Council meetings earlier this year, has consistently emphasized the critical importance of parks and green spaces being accessible and available for all users.
– Mayor Bruce Harrell has instructed his departments to work closely together on decision-making for addressing homeless camps, instead of leaving it to individual departments to make separate decisions, as was done under the previous administration.
– Increased funding is pouring into supportive, secure shelter, to provide those living unsheltered with additional options, something that has been woefully lacking for a long time. These include hotel-based lodgings and Tiny House Villages, among other types of shelter.
– The Just Care program, an outreach program organized by the Public Defender’s Office and other organizations, has been the main organization to address the “Courthouse Park” encampment last fall, and they are in talks to expand their programs, which help those outdoors go into shelter with an effective and compassionate approach.
What can we do?
– It’s still important to report unauthorized encampments, trash and needles, etc. We are the “eyes and ears” of our community, and reporting the problems you see help keep our neighborhood safe, and on the “radar” of the City’s clean-up team. You can use the Find It Fix It app, or report via the City’s Customer Service Bureau webpage.
– Please report criminal activity to the police, the statistics from our calls bring attention to the level of criminal incidents in our neighborhood. – Call 911, and if the incident is in progress, ask for the responding officer to contact you with information on what occurred. For property crime or car prowls, you can report them online.
– Do you have an opinion on what the City should do about homelessness? You are always encouraged to send your thoughts and ideas to our elected representatives. They have paid attention in the past to our concerns, and our Ravenna neighborhood has an established reputation for being engaged and active in advocating for the end ot homelessness and the protection of our neighborhood. – Contact information below!
If you have an opinion, please email the Mayor and the City Council:
– Mayor Bruce Harrell, https://www.seattle.gov/mayor/contact
– Seattle City Council, firstname.lastname@example.org
– Alex Pedersen, District 4 Council Member, email@example.com
– City Council President Deborah Juarez, firstname.lastname@example.org