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Mayor Durkan Announces up to $11.6 Million in Funding for Homeless Service Providers to Help Cover COVID-19 Costs in 2020

The City of Seattle expects to invest nearly $150 million in 2020 to support people experiencing homelessness during pandemic

Seattle (September 9, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced up to $11.6 million in funding for shelter, day-centers, and permanent supportive housing to help pay for costs incurred during the initial phases of the COVID-19 response and to maintain higher-level services throughout the pandemic.   

To date, these efforts have resulted in new enhanced shelter capacity, the opening of temporary spaces to de-intensify large congregate shelters, the ongoing operation of day-centers, and support to emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing to meet public health requirements. These program modifications have minimized shelter space loss during the pandemic. As noted by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, “Seattle has had one of the most progressive responses to COVID-19 for people living homeless” by making more room in shelters, deploying additional hand-washing stations, and some mobile showers. These efforts have helped homeless service programs to operate safely and without the large-scale spread of COVID-19 like many outbreaks seen in other cities. Throughout the City of Seattle homelessness response network, the City’s efforts have resulted in a positivity rate that is consistent with the rate of positive tests across the general population. 

“COVID-19 has laid bare the systemic inequities of our systems, forcing us to redefine how we care for our most vulnerable, especially individuals experiencing homelessness who are at some of the highest risks for COVID-19. In the initial days of the pandemic, the City took action to create new shelter, convert overnight shelters to 24/7, increase access to hygiene services, and provide meals and other supports necessary to survive in the COVID-19 environment,” said Mayor Durkan. “Our city owes our homeless service providers a great debt. With our support they have been on the pandemic’s front lines, further protecting our most marginalized communities.“ 

Funding to the agencies below will cover additional costs incurred as a result of modifications in physical space, operations and support services designed to ensure the safety of individuals accessing these services. The awards support over 1,500 City supported shelter beds, day-centers, and permanent supportive housing sites across multiple programs.  Agencies that were awarded funding are: 

·         Bailey Boushay House 

·         Catholic Community Services 

·         Catholic Housing Services 

·         Chief Seattle Club, Compass Housing 

·         DESC 

·         Lake City Partners  

·         LIHI  

·         New Horizons  

·         Plymouth Housing  

·         Salvation Army  

·         SHARE/WHEEL  

·         Seattle Indian Center 

·         Transitional Resources 

·         Urban League 

·         YouthCare  

·         YWCA  

“We cannot thank our community-based service providers enough for going above and beyond to keep clients safe since COVID-19 hit last winter,” said Jason Johnson, HSD Director. “This has been truly heroic work through challenging and uncertain times. This funding announcement will help cover the costs they’ve incurred and align their programs for a future with COVID-19 considerations. We also need to thank HSD staff, our partners at King County, Public Health, and Mayor Durkan for working overtime to make this announcement a reality.”  

The public health risks associated with COVID-19 will influence the response to homelessness beyond 2020, requiring the homeless services system to continue program adjustments that safely serve people experiencing homelessness. HSD and partners are developing strategies to maintain and expand these improvements—many of which have already been implemented and are supported through this funding—in the shelter and permanent supportive housing systems in 2020, 2021, and the years ahead.  The funding sources for these awards are from one-time State and Federal emergency grants, including the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Coronavirus Relief Fund, and anticipated FEMA reimbursement. As with any fiscal award, the final contract amounts awarded to agencies may change during the contracting and reimbursement process. 

With this investment, the City of Seattle expects to spend nearly $150 million in 2020, to support Seattle’s most vulnerable communities. This has been done through emergency sheltering programs, new shelter spaces, free COVID-19 testing, focused street outreach, meal services, and expanded hygiene access across Seattle.