A three-neighborhood plan that will bring homeless outreach services back to Broadway in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood will kick off this month.
“It’s not a solution to chase away homeless to another neighborhood,” said Egan Orion, the new executive director of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and administrator of the Broadway Business Improvement Area (BBIA) and City Council candidate for District 3, “At least having outreach workers on the ground, being able to connect them, getting to know them, helping them navigate system, some folks will be helped out of that situation.”
The BBIA announced Tuesday that the effort to restore homeless outreach services will put social workers back on the street around Broadway starting April 15.
Capitol Hill Seattle reported previously on a $300,000 plan to bring the services to First Hill, Capitol Hill and the International District with the lion’s share being paid for by the city and the final $100,000 being picked up by business organizations in the three neighborhoods.
But the City Hall debate on who should provide the workers — downtown’s Metropolitan Improvement District or the REACH effort from Evergreen Treatment Services, considered by some at City Hall to be the more equitable investment of city funds — pushed the plan to be opened up for providers to apply for the gig.
The expanded program is being rolled out in mid-April.
Orion said the help is needed.
“We are starting to see more campers as we get closer to summer,” Orion said. “I think there’s frustration all around in the city as far as the homelessness crisis is concerned.”
Orion said the goal is to give the people the outreach workers encounter more opportunity and access to services.
The outreach workers will act as a liaison to the BBIA’s community of businesses and help deal with the day-to-day issues around the area’s homeless and unsheltered populations, including connecting people with shelter and services, and typically without involving the police.
The city began funding outreach workers downtown a few years ago, before expanding the business-driven program to the International District and then to Capitol Hill. That program, at least the Capitol Hill portion of it, lasted for about two years before closing in March 2018. Its geography-based approach had been key. Proponents said having the same worker return to the same areas on a set schedule allows them to build a rapport both with people experiencing homelessness and local businesses.
Also in April, Orion and the chamber are sponsoring a Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum at the Broadway Performance Hall. Panelists at the April 18 forum will include representatives from service providers, local nonprofits, and “city employees who serve our unsheltered neighbors either directly or indirectly.”
This story was first published by CapitolHillSeattle.com and is republished with permission.
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