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City of Seattle

November 16, 4:58 PM click here to comment > 15

Providing shelter and services at Fire Station 39

This is the time of year when Seattle nights are getting colder and longer. It is dangerous for people to be out on the streets overnight during the winter months. Already this fall, shelters for families and single individuals are reporting that large numbers of people are being turned away due to lack of space. More people are spending the fall/winter nights on Seattle streets or in their cars. This is a problem throughout our city and no neighborhood is immune from the problem nor exempt from being part of the solution

Because there is the need for more winter shelter, the City of Seattle has signed an agreement with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission (SUGM) for SUGM to operate an emergency winter shelter during the winter of 2011 – 2012 at Fire Station 39. On November 8, the City Council unanimously adopted a Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI), that says, in part, “A proposal to allow FS 39 to be used as a winter only shelter with day services has been developed by the Seattle Union Gospel Mission,… The SUGM proposal incorporates a number of the suggestions made by the community in an effort to respond to concerns raised by neighboring residents and businesses.” The winter shelter at Fire Station 39 will open on November 24, 2011 and close on April 1, 2012, and will serve single women and men.

A year ago, the City allowed the homeless encampment Nickelsville to temporarily move into Fire Station 39 for the winter months. In that situation, we were faced with an immediate problem of finding a suitable site for this homeless encampment that demanded immediate action. However, the City did not provide the Lake City community with advance notice and even our efforts to inform the community after the fact were inadequate. I apologize for not providing the Lake City community with appropriate notice.

Since the beginning of this year we have engaged Lake City community members about the best use for Fire Station 39. We’ve held three public meetings to discuss the issue, and it was a prominent topic of conversation at the town hall event we held at Nathan Hale High School earlier this month. I heard from people who support the idea of a shelter and from those who oppose it. There is no consensus in the community about a shelter, and I know that this decision will be met with disapproval from those who do not want it there. I believe this is the right thing to do because of our need to provide shelter and human services to those members of the community who need it, especially as a cold and stormy winter approaches.

The City believes the request from the Lake City Task Force on Homelessness for the proposed use of the site as a temporary winter shelter is a good option, and that SUGM is a good choice to operate it. SUGM has developed a plan for the shelter that includes support services such as case management and addiction services. They will engage homeless people and connect them to resources and referrals necessary to move out of homelessness. SUGM will operate the shelter at no cost to Seattle’s taxpayers. SUGM’s plan calls for ample staffing and security. Their Morning Watch Coordinator will be available to businesses and residents who find homeless people sleeping in their doorways or places of business.

SUGM is establishing a community advisory committee that will meet regularly to provide guidance, to receive community input, and to get questions and concerns addressed. For more information about the temporary winter shelter at Fire Station 39, including more information about the community advisory committee, please contact Terry Pallas from SUGM at 206-501-6554.

Concerning the long-term use of the Fire Station 39 site, the City Council’s Statement of Legislative Intent also states that “The Mayor and Council are supportive of the future redevelopment of FS 39 as a long-term housing for low-income or formerly homeless individuals and/or families that may include the provision of services, as well.” Over the coming months the City will engage with the community in a process to consider the best long-term use of this site.

The City of Seattle is a partner in our region’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. The actions that we take to address homelessness are taken in the context of that plan. We are making progress and have funded more than 4,600 units of permanent housing for homeless people throughout Seattle and King County. More needs to be done and I am committed to making sure that the City’s investments and actions are focused on helping homeless families and individuals to get out of homelessness with the skills and supports they need to become self-sufficient.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from Contracting Tips
Time November 17, 2011 at 8:02 am

While no one wants a homeless shelter operating in their neighborhood, I’m sure no one wants people freezing to death in their neighborhood either. Compassion should always win out and I’m glad to hear there will be resources available to those who need the shelter to help them get back on their feet again.

Comment from Sally Kinney
Time November 17, 2011 at 8:11 am

The opening of this badly-needed shelter is truly a cause for thanksgiving! You’ve done the right thing under difficult conditions — Congratulations!

Comment from Pamela S. Russell
Time November 17, 2011 at 9:29 am

As a resident of Meadowbrook, member of the North Urban Human Services Assn., and pastor of a church on the Shoreline side of the city line but in the Lake City area,, I am well aware of the need for this shelter. Thank you.

Comment from michael vederoff
Time November 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

Thank you for committing to this short-term help in spite of the vocal opposition. I personally visited the SUGM Men’s Shelter in Pioneer Square this fall and was so impressed with the services offered. You made a good choice!

Michael Vederoff

Comment from Heidi Jindrich
Time November 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm

I hope you have informed the firefighters at Fire Station 39 that they will be hosting a homeless shelter–unless you mean the OLD Fire Station 39 building? It isn’t apparent from your letter that you mean the old building!

Pingback from Lake City Fire Station Homeless Shelter Update « Pinehurst Seattle
Time November 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

[…] more details in the announcement here. Posted by Nancy | November 18th, 2011 | Category: Lake […]

Comment from Dallas Baker
Time November 20, 2011 at 8:02 am

As a firefighter at Station 39, we welcome the homeless shelter to the “old Station 39”. Our new station is directly next door, and during the temporary placement of Nickelsville we had no significant problems with our neighbors. They were curteous, quiet, and generally all-around great neighbors. In addition, while we have no hard data, we felt as though we saw a decrease in the number of homeless person emergency responses around the community on the street. If the residents of the new homeless shelter in our historic prior home can conduct themselves in the same manner as the Nickelsville occupants, we welcome them and look forward to the positive impact the shelter will have on the surrounding Lake City community.

Comment from Dallas Baker
Time November 20, 2011 at 8:05 am

“courteous”, sorry…

Comment from Claire
Time November 22, 2011 at 2:23 pm

There is a very large 2-letter word in the comment by Dallas Baker…IF. He forgets that Nickelsville was an organized group with specific rules and regulations, not street people. On behalf of our permanent residents, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Comment from Betty Jean
Time November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I would be interested in some real numbers on the impact made by providing additional shelter has on emergency calls. Perhaps that could be part of implementation this time. It would be helpful in educating those who require monetary justification for compassionate choices.

Comment from Mark Baker
Time November 24, 2011 at 12:59 am

These services are vital, and Seattle needs more of them, especially this time of year. …but with the other homeless/subsidized services already in Lake City, I can’t help but feel we’re being dumped on. Ravenna & West Seattle also have unused firehouses, but I haven’t heard any proposal of using them in a similar manner. Lake City is remote and un-influential, which makes us easy to dump on, but I find it hard to believe that the homeless are best served by having to travel to this part of town.

Comment from Karen Husted
Time January 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Thank you for taking steps to address the forgotten people of Seattle.

Comment from Mary Stam
Time January 7, 2012 at 10:25 am

I wasn’t able to attend the community meetings regarding the shelter in Lake City so I will give my feedback now. The post office where I get my mail is in Lake City. Homeless people seem to congregate around the post office either panhandling or just sitting on the sidewalks usually high on something. At times I was afraid to go into the post office after hours to pick up my mail because homeless people stayed in the post office. It was during and after the shelter was in the fire station that the homeless started hanging out near the post office. During the day the Lake City Library was filled with the homeless. No computers were available and there was almost no place to sit. I have stopped going to the Lake City Library and now go to the Northeast Library. Last winter I was afraid to get my mail and to go to the library. I don’t know how to resolve the homeless problem in Seattle but there is no excuse for me to feel afraid in my community. Thanks

Comment from Kelli McBride
Time February 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I have seen a change in the Lake City Community. Our homeless are healthier and safer. The drug activity has noticablly decreased! With shelter other vital services can be introduced now that the very basic needs are being. NOW LETS MAKE IT PERMENANT! Please Mayor, make it permenant

Comment from Brian Arkills
Time March 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I encourage folks living in the Lake City area to get connected with your neighbors via