Photo: Seattle City Council/Flickr
Under a 2018 budget proposed by Mayor Tim Burgess, Seattle would spend $63 million on homeless services next year, up from about $61 million this year and $39 million as recently as four years ago, reports the Seattle Times. The budget was mostly assembled under Ed Murray, who resigned as mayor on September 12th following allegations that he had sexually abused teenagers decades ago.
The new homelessness spending would include funding for a second “navigation team.” The current navigation team is composed of specially trained police officers, a mental health professional and outreach workers. Their job is to assist people living in unauthorized encampments throughout the city. The new team would focus on people living in vehicles. The 2017 data available from Count Us In shows that more than 1,500 people — 40% of unsheltered individuals living in the City — are living in a vehicle of some kind.
This year, the mayor’s office reports that the efforts of the navigation team have been relatively successful. Between February and August 2017, the Navigation Team sustained contact with over 1,100 individuals, with 419 people accepting an offer to reconnect with family, move to the Navigation Center or another shelter, or move to an authorized encampment. Compared to 2016, when the outreach efforts related to encampment response resulted in only 214 people accepting referrals, the program is improving.
The 2018 Proposed Budget provides ongoing funding for the two new low barrier shelters opened in 2017, a 100-bed, 24-hour, low-barrier shelter in First Hill and a 75-bed, 24-hour, low-barrier Navigation Center. The shelters do not require sobriety or identification for admission and can accommodate couples, pets and people’s possessions.
The City Council will hold a series of hearings through November with city department heads. If all goes according to plan, the Council will pass the budget by December 2nd.