A Coalition of Businesses, Service Providers, and Academia Acclaim the Shelter and Services Provided to 33 People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness on 3rd Ave, Tout the Now Clear & Safe Street
Seattle, WA — Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (District 7 – Pioneer Square to Magnolia), service providers and members from the business community announced the publication of a University of Washington study demonstrating the effectiveness of the JustCARE model, and provided a tangible example of how 33 individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness on 3rd Avenue downtown were connected with appropriate shelter by JustCARE and voluntarily accepted.
“The encampment on 3rd Avenue has been an ongoing challenge for several months, posing a hazard to residents of the encampment as well as nearby businesses and housed neighbors,” said Councilmember Lewis. “In coordination with the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), the JustCARE coalition of service providers, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, we came together to accomplish two common goals: dignity, shelter and ongoing support for those experiencing homelessness, and a clear and safe 3rd Avenue for the entire community. And not one of the 33 unsheltered people was dispersed. Every single person voluntarily accepted. One of my aims as a Councilmember is to govern by collaboration, not conflict. We need more productive coalitions like this across the city. It’s only by centering everyone’s common interests that we’re going to overcome the crisis of homelessness.”
The JustCARE model is a team effort combining outreach workers from REACH/Evergreen Treatment Services, a field team from CoLEAD, and hotel-based teams with Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS) & CoLEAD, along with the Wheeler Davis safety team to find shelter – hotel rooms, tiny homes, etc. – for people living outside and provide them with support for their basic needs. The JustCARE alliance coordinates whenever possible with City-funded shelter options via the Human Services Department (HSD), and partners with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR), and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) for debris removal when people have voluntarily left items behind when they move.
“The JustCARE model emphasizes careful and patient outreach which matches the situation of individuals living on the streets, with appropriate shelter resources and, for many, skilled, sustained support to address significant behavioral health challenges,” said Jesse Benet, Deputy Director of the Public Defender Association, who coordinates the JustCARE alliance. “This model is the opposite of displacement – people are no longer living on the street because they have accepted an appropriate placement elsewhere that actually addresses their situation. Removing an encampment does harm if it uproots people’s lives, severs relationships and simply leads to people living outside somewhere else.”
This successful project on 3rd Avenue comes at a time when Downtown businesses are set to reopen for the busy summer season. “Downtown is open for business on 3rd Avenue thanks to the JustCARE team,” said Rick Yoder, owner of The Triple Door and Wild Ginger. “I am thankful for their responsiveness and effectiveness. This vital program should be available to communities across Seattle.”
As Seattle wrestles with the homelessness crisis, this model – non-siloed teams of JustCARE and the City working in concert – has been repeatedly proven effective, both humanely providing shelter services for those experiencing unsheltered homelessness as well as clearing public spaces for everyone. This successful example comes on the heels of Council’s allocation of an additional $9 million to expand shelter options used by outreach and care providers like JustCARE.