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Building on 1,900 New Temporary Housing Options, City of Seattle Expands Resources for Those Experiencing Homelessness, Deploys Six New Additional Hygiene Stations

Seattle – (March 27, 2020) – Building on the 1,900 new sites across the City to help individuals experiencing homelessness, the City of Seattle announced the deployment and maintenance of six hygiene facilities throughout the City, which augment the more than 128 Seattle Parks comfort stations that remain open for hygiene needs. This expansion of resources is a continuation of ongoing work by the City and County to bring critically needed resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Beginning tomorrow, the City will deploy and maintain 14 toilets and 6 handwashing stations near City Hall Park, Lake City Community Center, Jefferson Park, Westcrest Park, Cal Anderson Park, and Benvenuto Viewpoint. All areas are in close proximity to individuals experiencing homelessness. This is in addition to the more than 128 locations in parks throughout the City, available to all residents, and are currently being serviced by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The new facilities will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week. Daily maintenance will be provided including sharps disposal, waste removal and supplemental cleaning. 

In addition to the portable toilets, the City expects to soon deploy at least four hygiene trailers with showers, toilets, and hand-washing stations. Currently under procurement, the trailer locations and staffing will be determined by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) in partnership outreach teams and other departments and Public Health – Seattle & King County.  

“Since the outbreak of this pandemic in King County 26 days ago, the County and City have worked to urgently deploy every measure we can to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness, including expanding shelter capacity to nearly 1,900 spaces for individuals and distributing 600 hygiene kits,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “From the onset, we have been focused on how to help the most vulnerable in our community stay healthy, and our shelter and hygiene centers will go a long way to doing just that. However, this unprecedented deployment of resources at a local level will need the continued support of our state and federal government to create additional mass shelter facilities with personnel and resources. We know that individuals experiencing homelessness are some of the most at risk for exposure, so we must continue to work with providers, the County, and public health to help those experiencing homelessness.”  

Thee Navigation Team has continued to do outreach during the outbreak to help those experiencing homelessness receive the hygiene resources they need with the distribution of nearly 600 hygiene kits over the past two weeks.  

“Hygiene stations were an ask the Council specifically enumerated in response to the Mayor’s emergency powers earlier this month,” said Councilmember District 7 – Pioneer Square to Magnolia) and Chair of the Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies and Investments. “I’m glad to see Mayor Durkan is following through on that commitment to the people of our City.” 

“Our homeless providers and shelter partners are doing the best they can to serve their residents/clients during the coronavirus crisis, but don’t have enough bathrooms for everyone to follow proper handwashing guidelines to keep everyone healthy. By utilizing mobile sanitation stations for our homeless neighbors, that will be regularly monitored by staff, it makes all of us healthier and helps Seattle flatten the curve of those with COVID-19,”said Councilmember  Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and South Park), and Chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee. “This is especially important for our homeless neighbors who are elderly, or have underlying health conditions. Thank you to those workers who will be staffing these stations, and are part of our frontline workers making a difference in this community. The City will move next to use Council allocated resources for more hygiene options, specifically, mobile pit stops with connections to outreach and services.” 

“During last year’s budget process, the Council made it a priority to fund sanitary stations for our homeless neighbors. The Council’s budget add makes it possible to quickly procure and stand up new hygiene stations in the midst of this crisis, which will be set up in the coming weeks,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide). “We must continue to do everything we can to house and provide services to our vulnerable neighbors. These six handwashing stations are an important start, but we must do more. San Francisco’s deployment of 20 sets a good example and I look forward to working with the Mayor and Council to allocate more resources to deploy more hand washing as soon as possible.”    

“Seattle Public Utilities is proud to be a part of the City effort to provide additional resources for people experiencing homelessness,” said Mami Hara, General Manager of Seattle Public Utilities. “By providing these services, we are improving public health and safety for our most vulnerable neighbors in our community.” 

“I am deeply appreciative to the Navigation Team, our contracted outreach providers, and our partner departments for helping to inform where these important hygiene services will be located,” said Jason Johnson, HSD Director. “Ensuring that people have easy and immediate access to the services they need is HSD’s top priority during these unprecedented times.”  

SPU has partnered with HSD’s Navigation Team and local stakeholders to address public health and safety in unmanaged encampments. Increased litter and trash collection services will be delivered at unmanaged encampments over the next several weeks. In addition, the SPU encampment trash program that delivers trash bags and collects them, currently in 14 locations, will increase to 16 sites by March 31, 2020.  SPU will also increase their pump-out services for RVs, expanding their initial pilot of two events per week.  

For current guidance for effective sanitation and hygiene practices as well as preventive measures, please click here.