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City of Seattle Announces Partnerships to Open New Shelter Spaces

City will fund 89 spaces in partnership with King County using the JustCARE program 

Africatown Community Land Trust to provide culturally responsive care with new 125 bed shelter 

SEATTLE (July 29, 2021) – The City of Seattle announced continued progress to open new 24/7 shelter options for this Summer and Fall. In addition to three new tiny home villages opening in Fall 2021, the City will be expanding 24/7 shelter options including expansion of the Public Defender Association’s (PDA) JustCARE program to add 89 new rooms and a new partnership with Africatown Community Land Trust to open a new 125 room enhanced shelter.  

”COVID-19 has exponentially deepened our homelessness humanitarian crisis. Our new shelter spaces opening in the coming weeks will allow the City to have more resources to prioritize outreach to unhoused individuals living in our parks, playfields, sidewalks and other public rights-of-way,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “The partnerships announced today will continue the urgent work of moving into safe shelter alternatives and ensuring our most vulnerable communities have access to the resources necessary to begin on the path to permanent housing.” 

Through a contract that builds on their existing program, Public Defender Association’s (PDA) JustCARE program will support 89 new room-based shelter spaces, which are expected to open beginning in August 2021 and provide services through June 2022. The funding will be contracted through King County, which funds the existing JustCARE program, and will provide rooms across two new locations. Funding will provide services including behavioral health supports. In addition, King County and the City of Seattle are investing $15 million to continue the JustCARE program in Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District with particular focus on City Hall Park.  

This builds on the City’s effort to stand up temporary hotel-based shelter across Seattle. In late March, the City opened two new temporary-based hotels, which created 200 new spaces for people experiencing homelessness.  

“JustCARE partners work to address the needs of people who are chronically homeless–people often turned away from other shelter options, in part due to complex health issues, that often include mental health disability, chronic drug use and significant physical healthcare needs. We’re thrilled that some local property owners who have suitable non-congregate facilities are offering those for JustCARE work, and we’re grateful to City leaders for helping to bring those spaces on line for immediate impact,” said Jesse Benet, JustCARE program director and PDA Deputy Director.

“JustCARE is a program that serves everyone in a community impacted by encampments, from neighboring businesses, to people using public spaces for recreation, to most importantly, people living outside,” Councilmember Andrew Lewis said. “This humane and comprehensive model has proved itself. It is effective. It is compassionate. And it is how we end the crisis of homelessness in Seattle.” 

In addition to the expanded County partnership, the City of Seattle will enter a new partnership with Africatown Community Land Trust to open a new 125 bed non-congregate enhanced shelter in the Central District at the Keiro building. This project will serve single adults and will be the first shelter project operated by Africatown. The program will be a 24/7, enhanced shelter that will offer culturally responsive services, case management, housing navigation services, and behavioral health support. The shelter is expected to open October 2021.  

“This is an unprecedented opportunity to harness community rooted expertise with support from the City of Seattle to make the former Keiro facility a home and hub for community members experiencing houselessness due to displacement and disconnection from life sustaining and enhancing social supports and resources that are critical for one’s well being. It is well known that African American’s are disproportionately overrepresented among those experiencing houselessness due to compounding factors of systemic anti-Black racism, policies and practices. Additionally, there has also been a lack of resources directed to Black-led organizations to effectively address the root causes of these conditions from a culturally responsive approach,” said Wyking Garret, President and CEO of Africatown Community Land Trust. “We are excited to be working with a growing consortium of Black led organizations, service providers, the city of Seattle and other partners and stakeholders to bring the needed knowledge, skills, passion and resources to make this a success.” 

With these and other investments in the pipeline, the City of Seattle plans to stand up approximately 400 new safe spaces by the end of the year. So far this year, HSD has opened 350 new and reactivated shelter spaces for people living unsheltered. King County is also making progress to stand up additional shelter for individuals living unsheltered downtown by the end of the year.