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City of Seattle Partners with Chief Seattle Club to Open Hotel-Based Shelter in Belltown with Focus on the Indigenous Community

Seattle (April 1, 2021) – The City of Seattle and Chief Seattle Club today celebrated the opening of the Kings Inn–hotel-based shelter program with a focus on serving unhoused American Indian and Alaskan Native people.  

Chief Seattle Club will operate the hotel, providing case management, housing navigation, and culturally appropriate services designed to support individuals on their path to permanent housing. Chief Seattle Club will also serve as the provider for the shelter’s dedicated rapid re-housing program. Per the 2020 Point-In-Time Count, American Indian/Alaska Native peoples are disproportionately represented in King County homelessness representing 27 percent of the unsheltered homeless community, while being only one percent of residents county-wide. 

The Kings Inn shelter opening is a part of the City’s investments passed last year in the 2021 budget. The City is using one-time federal funding to launch this program with the goal of ending a client’s experience with homelessness through placement in permanent housing. A range of strategies will be used including nationally recognized best practices like rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing. This is the second federally funded temporary hotel-based shelter opening within the City of Seattle over the past week. 

“Throughout the pandemic, Seattle has led the way by innovating new programs to support a range of services for our communities, including unprecedented investments in serving our neighbors without homes. This has been especially critical for our native neighbors. The disproportionate rate of homelessness experienced by native people is just one of many reminders of the systemic disparities and inequities facing our community. While I am honored to take part in today’s celebration, I am also heartened to know that for these relatives, the City, in partnership with community, is helping to end their experience with homelessness – beginning with their stay here at the Kings Inn,” said Deputy Mayor Casey Sixkiller, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the first Native American to serve as Deputy Mayor of the City of Seattle. 

Chief Seattle Club is providing culturally-informed services to ensure shelter guests stabilize and are placed on a pathway to permanent housing. Partners include the Seattle Indian Health Board for COVID-19 vaccines/testing and Medically Assisted Treatment; Cowlitz Tribal Health Services for mental health programs; and Operation Sack Lunch including traditional indigenous foods. Staff will be on-site 24/7, with 91 percent identifying as American Indian/Alaska Native. 

“We are grateful to partner with the City of Seattle to find solutions for our relatives who have been living in the most extreme conditions throughout the winter and pandemic,” said Derrick Belgarde, Deputy Director of Chief Seattle Club. “It is going to take commitments like this from all levels of government if we are going to impact homelessness.”   

The City has leased the entire 66 room hotel as temporary shelter. Shelter does not end an individual’s experience with homelessness and is a short-term strategy to bring individuals inside until permanent housing options are available. Last week, the 155-room Executive Hotel Pacific opened with the Low Income Housing Institute as the hotel operator providing case management and housing navigation designed to meet the needs of people facing barriers to housing. Mayor Durkan’s plan provides an exit to permanent housing for hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness using proven strategies like rapid rehousing (RRH) and permanent supportive housing (PSH).  

The HOPE Team will match individuals to services and/or shelters that accommodate an individual’s particular needs, in collaboration with the City’s contracted outreach providers.   

The hotels are leased for 12 months, including one month for ramp-up and one month for ramp-down. The City’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) oversaw the procurement and contracting process, working with the Human Services Department (HSD) to identify key program needs. This includes hotel size and location; floor plans for rooms and common areas; cost; COVID-19 safety; the speed of program activation; and facility maintenance.    

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City has partnered with King County on non-congregate shelter, funding temporary hotel shelter for 380 clients in the County’s hotel shelter program. While the County pays facility costs, the City of Seattle pays for services with proven success rates to help end homelessness like case management and behavioral and mental health assistance. With today’s announcement, the City has added more than 200 hotel-based shelter units to increase city-funded, non-congregate shelter.    

Permanent Housing Solutions  

City of Seattle investments in rapid rehousing, a nationally proven model for ending homelessness, continue to yield successful outcomes, with 81% of RRH participants exiting the program to permanent housing in 2020. Chief Seattle Club boasts a 95 percent success rate for American Indian/Alaska Native RRH clients. The City’s investment will support more than 230 households to secure permanent housing through RRH. In addition, the City will bring on new permanent supportive housing units in 2021. The City’s surge funding will support transitioning individuals to this housing option through case management and housing navigation services. PSH, another nationally recognized strategy, has a 96% success rate of ending long-term, chronic homelessness.  

Tiny House Villages  

Three new tiny home villages were approved as part of the 2021 budget and are being procured through a process that will allow reimbursement for eligible expenses.     

A new tiny house village in the University District will be operated by LIHI and is expected to provide up to 40 tiny houses. The village will be located on Sound Transit property that the agency will later develop into transit-oriented development. The village is slated to open in late April or early May, pending finalizing lease and service agreements. The second village, also anticipated to hold up to 40 units, will be located in North Seattle and is on a similar schedule for opening in Spring.    

The City is actively reviewing locations for two additional tiny home villages.  

While open to any individual experiencing homelessness, the City will seek reimbursement on any FEMA-eligible expenses. The City has been seeking FEMA reimbursement on tiny home villages opened last year during the pandemic.    

Additional Temporary Hotel Shelter  

Recently, City Council passed legislation that will allow the City to quickly finance the costs of leasing an additional hotel depending on the size of the hotel, services offered, and individuals served. The City would continue to seek FEMA reimbursement for eligible expenses and use additional federal funding.    

The City has identified a third potential site through a competitive procurement process and will begin contracting negotiations. The City will continue moving forward with identifying a service provider to operate the facility. Mayor Durkan is committed to working with Council, regional and state partners to provide resources ensuring a permanent housing solution for these clients.   

New 24/7 Enhanced Shelter Open    

On February 12, 2021, a new shelter for women opened at the First Presbyterian Church, adding 60 new shelter beds. The City funds this shelter through Catholic Community Services, which sub-contracts operations to Women’s Housing, Equality and Enhancement League (WHEEL). The shelter began as an overnight shelter during February’s snowstorms and is converting to 24/7 enhanced shelter for women experiencing homelessness. Case management and housing navigation services will be provided.    

The City is considering locations for an additional enhanced shelter.