For the first time in ten years, the City of Seattle is bidding out $30 million of homelessness funding through an open RFP process. It’s using the RFP as a chance to rewrite the rules for service providers — and more importantly to ratchet up the requirements placed upon them.
Yesterday afternoon the Council received another monthly briefing on the “Bridging the Gap” short-term response to the homelessness crisis in Seattle.
Last week, the results of the annual One Night Count (renamed “Count Us In” this year) were released, giving us updated data on the extent and nature of the homeless crisis in King County and Seattle.
The full report is 116 pages of tables. It’s heavy on data and light on interpretation. After spending several days poring over the report, here are my thoughts on what it means.
This afternoon King County released the results of its annual One Night Count (renamed this year to “Count Us In”).
It’s a long, detailed report, and the methodology changed this year so making comparisons with previous years is very difficult. I’m going to take a few days to thoroughly read and analyze it before doing a detailed post, but here are pointers to the key reading, and a few top-line points.
Earlier this year, the city issued an update to its protocol for cleaning up unsanctioned homeless encampments. Notably missing from those rules was a formal role for the Office of Civil Rights in monitoring implementation and compliance, as it had been doing last fall when the city was accused of not following its own rules. The Office of Civil Rights stopped its monitoring work in January, but after public outcry the city backtracked and said that it would use the department in an “audit capacity.”
Last month, three city departments quietly signed a Memorandum of Agreement re-establishing a formal monitoring role.
Last Wednesday the City Council got another monthly update on the city’s short-term response to the homelessness crisis.
Late last summer, Mayor Murray announced Bridging the Gap, his administration’s short-term plan too address homelessness while the longer-term plan Pathways Home, took its time to spin up. Both efforts have sputtered along since then, mired in city government bureaucracy and hidden behind a maddening lack of transparency and accountability. But there are now signs that the shorter-term effort is starting to find its groove thanks to a creative idea for how to reorganize the effort.
The City Council members today spent a fair amount of their public meeting time discussing one issue: what to do about the unsanctioned encampment called “The Field” that is scheduled for clearing tomorrow.
Late last summer the Mayor promised that the Human Services Department was working on an assessment of the needs of Seattle’s homeless population. Originally due out in November, it was finally released today.
The report gives the most detailed view to-date of who our homeless neighbors are, how they became homeless, and the issues they are struggling with. Along the way, it debunks several persistent myths about the homeless population and suggests the services that the city could provide that would do the most to lift them out of homelessness.
Since its inception last fall, the City of Seattle’s “Bridging the Gap” interim plan for addressing the homelessness crisis in the city has had its ups and downs — and mostly downs. But based on the team’s report to the City Council last week, it may finally be finding its feet.