Making Good Progress

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Because of reports that the Council had heard of children sleeping in outdoor encampments, last fall the Council allocated $435,000 in new funding together with a Budget Guidance Statement that the Council’s objective of the additional funding is that no family be unsheltered by the end of 2012.  In addition, the Council has made this objective a 2012 priority in its 2012 Action Plan.  This is distinct from the 10 year Plan to End Homelessness, in that it focuses on the need for interim, emergency survival services to keep people (especially children) safe , even in those unfortunate cases that they may remain homeless in a shelter.

I am happy to report that the Human Services Department (HSD) has made strong progress in supporting the Council’s effort to shelter all families this year.  To date, $250,000 of the $435,000 has been allocated to providers and contracts are expected to exceed the minimum number of families estimated to be served.

  • YWCA has received $40,000 to serve more families in the Late Night Program and $30,000 to expand the program to day service referrals.  This program provides emergency vouchers with case management services to help families move off the streets.
  • Solid Ground, El Centro de La Raza and Wellspring has received $150,000 for the Rapid Re-housing Program serving families.  These funds are for case management services and/or direct housing assistance including rent payments, move-in costs, security or utility deposits, payment of past due rent and/or utility payments.
  • Compass Housing Alliance has received $20,000 for case management services and $10,000 for capital project needs associated with the Safe Parking Pilot Program, which will allow a small number of people to live in their vehicles in a church parking lot.

Another $185,000 will also be available soon.  HSD announced recently that it is seeking to use this portion of the Council funds to: 1. Support organizations to increase their community’s capacity to provide shelter for homeless families and 2. Support another agency with the ability to expanding shelter capacity immediately.

HSD will report to the Council by June 30 “concerning the number of families served by the funding added by the Council and whether there is further need for additional assistance for homeless families.”  In addition, I’ll be hosting a Guaranteeing Every Family Shelter Summit in July that focuses on further steps needed to assure that no families are sleeping on the streets in Seattle in 2013.

On a related note, here is a video from the art exhibit I wrote about last month, Looking Into Light – Documenting Family Homelessness in America, brought to us by the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness.  The picture above is from that exhibit.  It’s short; I hope you can take a moment to watch it.

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