The city of Seattle issued a call on Aug. 26 to nonprofits and tribal organizations to compete for $1.67 million to operate a shelter open at all hours to homeless individuals who have previously been cut out of the shelter system.
The request for qualifications released by the Human Services Department follows an executive order by Mayor Ed Murray in June calling for the creation of a shelter modeled in function and name after the Navigation Center in San Francisco.
Members of city and county government toured the facility as part of a fact-finding mission earlier this year.
The model emphasizes access to services available on site as well as a minimum number of restrictions on who can stay at the facility. The Navigation Center in San Francisco, for instance, has only four rules: no bigoted language, no drug or alcohol use on the campus, no violence and no stealing.
That makes it easier for people routinely excluded from the shelter system for having pets, possessions or a partner they’d like to stay with, as well as people who are intoxicated but not consuming at the facility.
The center will focus on “housing first,” which entails finding housing without putting too many restrictions up front, as well as recovery, harm reduction and trauma-informed care.
Organizations will be required to document client information in the Homeless Management Information System. Some service providers resist this because it forces clients to talk about painful information upfront and causes data privacy concerns for at-risk individuals, such as victims of domestic violence.
The city will prioritize people living in the homeless encampment at Airport Way South and Royal Brougham Way — generally former residents of the East Duwamish Greenbelt Encampment, better known as the Jungle — with a focus on Black, mixed-race and American Indian homeless people.
The Navigation Center will be referral only, meaning that people cannot get a bed without going through a city-designated outreach organization (currently REACH).
The winning proposal will be funded with $600,000 from private donations earmarked for homeless services, $475,000 in state of emergency funding from City Hall, and $600,000 from the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Funds will be awarded for the period between Dec. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2017. The continuation of the project past the first year will be dependent on finding funding.
An informational session for those interested in the project will be held Sept. 7 at 1 p.m. in room 307 of El Centro de la Raza (2524 16th Ave. S., Seattle, 98144).