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