City of Seattle to Continue Expansion of Hygiene Services for People Experiencing Homelessness

Seattle (April 9, 2020) – In addition to the creation of new 24/7 shelters with access to hygiene services and places for individuals experiencing homelessness to stay who have and are recovering from COVID-19, the City of Seattle announced today the continued expansion of hygiene services for people experiencing homelessness. Building on the previously announced resources, eight new hygiene stations will be deployed and two hygiene trailers will be positioned in areas where individuals experiencing homelessness can be best served.  

Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Public Utilities have done a comprehensive inventory of available facilities currently open. At this time, no restroom facilities will be closed during this weekend’s large park closures. In recent weeks, the City has taken several steps to increase access to hygiene facilities to reduce the spread of COVID-19, especially with the closure of additional businesses. Seattle Public Utilities will provide 16 new portable toilets and 8 new hand washing stations.  

The new resources will supplement: 

  • There are open hygiene locations in parks. As of April 8, there are 138 locations with a total of 199 hygiene facilities (comfort stations and sanicans) located in 114 parks and recreation locations across the city. There are 78 facilities open 24/7, including 75 sanicans and portable restrooms. At any given time, Parks hygiene facilities may be temporarily closed for construction, maintenance, vandalism, or cleaning). Four community centers open for showers;  
  • Seattle Public Utilities is operating six Hygiene stations, with 14 sanicans and six handwashing sinks that also operate 24/7;  
  • Twelve day centers; and 
  • Bathrooms at facilities at City Hall and Seattle Center. 

“From the beginning of this unprecedented crisis, we have been focused on providing the resources necessary to keep our most vulnerable neighbors safe. Over the past month, the City and County have committed unprecedented new investments for individuals experiencing homelessness including new resources for hygiene, shelter and places for individual to isolate, quarantine, or recover from COVID-19. I am grateful for the frontline service providers and City workers who are tirelessly working to procure new facilities, staff our shelters, conduct outreach to the most vulnerable, and clean these facilities” said Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “We will continue to build on our current resources to help our most vulnerable but need the support of our state and federal government to provide the funding, staffing and resources necessary to support individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly a month, I have been asking for more personnel and support – our City workers alone can’t staff and support the new facilities that we need to address the crisis.” 

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will work with Public Health – Seattle & King County and other City departments to determine locations for the new facilities. Similar to those recently deployed, the new stations will be open 24/7 and serviced daily, with waste removal, needle disposal, and supplemental cleaning.  

Two hygiene trailers will be located near Chief Seattle Club in Pioneer Square and Seattle Center to complement the expansion. The Seattle Center location will support the shelters at the Fisher Pavilion and Exhibition Hall.  Trailers contain showers, toilets and hand washing stations. The facilities will be staffed by a City contracted service provider and daily maintenance provided per guidance of public health officials. Shower programs at Rainier, Delridge, Green Lake, and Meadowbrook community centers also remain open to the public. 

These new steps advance the previous investments by SPU to double the encampment trash pickup program to 16 locations and expand pump-out services to RVs. Since the beginning of March, SPU has removed 22,330 pounds of litter and disposed of 3,869 sharps. In addition, the Navigation Team has distributed nearly 1,400 hygiene kits and has partnered with City departments to remove more than 66,920 pounds of waste, garbage and debris removal from unmanaged encampments since mid-March. 

The City has rapidly ramped up efforts to provide even more resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City has opened hundreds of new 24/7 shelter spaces with access to hygiene services for existing shelter clients. Many of these new spaces have converted from basic shelter with no access to full hygiene services to 24/7 services. In partnership with King County the City of Seattle is opening new shelter locations, and opened quarantine, isolation and recovery locations, which will primarily serve individuals experiencing homelessness.