Mayor Murray announces interim action plan on homelessness

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced a plan to better address the immediate needs of people living unsheltered on Seattle streets while the City fully implements its long-term plan, Pathways Home. This plan includes creating additional low-barrier shelter capacity (including shower facilities), expanded outreach, updated unsheltered encampment cleanup protocols, as well as improved trash and needle pick up. The plan, made up of actions the Mayor can take under his Executive authority, was sent to Council in a letter Friday.

Pathways Home remains our long-term plan to transform the way the City invests in programs to address homelessness,” said Mayor Murray. “Today’s announcement, however, recognizes our need to bridge the gap as we still have over 3,000 people living unsheltered on our streets. We need to ensure we are providing safer alternatives for those living on our streets, increasing our outreach efforts, focusing on a more compassionate set of protocols when clean cleanups are necessary and offering trash and needle pickup services to address public health and safety issues.

“This plan is not in contradiction to Pathways Home and it reflects the principles laid out by the Task Force on Unsheltered Encampment Cleanup Protocols.”

This plan recognizes that the City should not displace encampments that do not pose an imminent health or safety risk or do not unlawfully obstruct a public use unless the City is able to offer those living there a safer alternative place to live.

The plan is focused on four areas, laid out in the document sent to Council today:

  • Safer alternative spaces to live, including four new authorized encampments, a call out to the private and non-profit sectors, and communities of faith for additional proposals for immediate shelter space, and the Seattle Navigation Center, which will open by January, 2017.
  • Expanded outreach with the tripling of the number of outreach workers dedicated to connecting with people living in encampments, a dedicated Seattle Police team to partner with outreach workers and address behavioral disorder issues instead of the binary decisions around arrests, and training for frontline City employees on how to best offer referrals for people experiencing homelessness.
  • More compassionate protocols for unauthorized encampments, including the above note about displacement, better protocols around storage and delivery of personal belongings and notice, and transparency around when and why cleanups are carried out.
  • Improved trash and needle pickup with Seattle Public Utilities to help address areas most affected by trash buildup and make needle deposit boxes more accessible.

Full details can be found here, including information about the budget.

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City encourages residents to prepare for weekend weather

With high-winds and rain predicted for Seattle and much of the Pacific Northwest this weekend, it is recommended that residents take extra precautions at home and when out. Residents should defer traveling during the storm, avoid and report downed power lines and trees, and be cautious near areas experiencing flooding.

Latest modeling shows a chance for heavy winds to arrive in the Seattle area as early as 5 PM on Saturday, October 15 and lasting throughout the evening. For the most current weather updates please visit the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office, Impact Briefing for Seattle. For up to date information impacting the City of Seattle please visit or

Storm Safety Information
• Please call 911 to report downed lines, do not touch or attempt to remove lines that have fallen during the storm.

• If you lose power at home, please call (206) 684-3000 to report the outage or call the Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-7400 to hear a recorded message with power restoration updates.

• Because of the timing of tomorrow’s storm, there may be challenges with travel throughout the city tomorrow evening and Sunday morning.

• For individuals using life-sustaining and medical equipment, please contact and register with your utility company. For more information call (206) 684-3020.

• Remember to treat intersections that are impacted by power outages as four-way stops.

• Check the Metro and Sound Transit websites for any impacts to your transit routes.

• Maintain gutters, downspouts, rain barrels, private culverts by keeping them clean, flowing and directed away from properties and hillsides.

• Keep storm drains free of leaves and other debris to prevent streets from flooding. Be sure to stay out of the road when raking.

• All Seattle Parks and Recreation grass athletic fields, including West Seattle Stadium, will be closed through the weekend. Most importantly, please remember to safe and use extreme caution outdoors. Parks officials encourage residents to avoid Seattle parks entirely this weekend due to the high-winds.

• Seattle Parks has cancelled programs and activities in parks across the system. For the most up-to-date information please visit

• Generally, we want to remind you that if you do lose power, keep grills, camping stoves and generators outside. Fuel burning appliances are sources of carbon monoxide, a dangerous and poisonous gas.

• Have an emergency preparedness kit ready to help you get through until power is restored

• Storms can create a storm surge impacting high-tide. For information pertaining to tides visit NOAA.

• A temporary, emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness will be open at the Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion – near 2nd & Thomas, south of Key Arena. The co-ed adult shelter will open on Saturday and Sunday from 7 PM to 7AM. This shelter can accommodate 100 people.

• King County Shelter for adult males has expanded capacity to serve 50 additional men Friday through Tuesday, 10/14 – 10/18. The King County Shelter is located at the King County Administration Building at 500 4th Avenue in Seattle. The shelter opens at 7 PM.

• The City Hall Co-ed shelter at 600 4th Ave in Seattle will expand capacity Friday through Tuesday 10/14 – 10/18 with an emphasis on accommodating women seeking shelter. The shelter is open from 7PM to 6AM.

• Sign up and use AlertSeattle at for up-to-date information from the City of Seattle

• The City will have additional staff and crews available throughout the evening and weekend to respond to emergencies as they arise. The Seattle Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center will be activated throughout the weekend.

Additional preparedness information can be found at: Take Winter by Storm – or What to do to make it through –

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Mayor Murray statement following incident in East Duwamish Greenbelt

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement on today’s officer-involved shooting in the East Duwamish Greenbelt area under Interstate 5:
“While details are still coming in, the Seattle Police Department is investigating an officer-involved shooting today in the East Duwamish Greenbelt.
“I am in regular communication with Chief O’Toole as the SPD’s Force Investigation Team conducts a full investigation, along with the presence of the civilian-led Office of Professional Accountability. As always under the Consent Decree, the Department of Justice and the Federal Monitor will be engaged throughout the review of the incident.
“At the same time, today’s operation in the Greenbelt was needed, both because of the long history of public safety issues in the area and because of the long-overdue work the Washington Department of Transportation needs to do on Interstate 5. We expect this work to continue at the conclusion of the investigation.”
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Mayor Ed Murray proposes an additional $12 million to implement the City’s new homelessness plan

Today, Mayor Edward B. Murray announced $12 million in new funding to implement strategies laid out in the City’s new homelessness plan, “Pathways Home,” Seattle’s Person-Centered Plan to Support People Experiencing Homelessness. This funding is sourced through a combination of new general fund dollars, additional revenue from the housing levy to support an increase to the Homelessness Prevention Program and a continuation of funding for key programs originally funded under the 2015 State of Emergency.

“By providing funding for key element of the Pathways Home Plan, I believe we can make a dramatic and visible difference in the number of people currently experiencing homelessness through a major transformation of our homeless service delivery system,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

The 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes almost $1 million in investments that will help to create capacity to house the unsheltered families on the waitlist. These investments will fund rental assistance and one-time funding to address immediate needs to divert people from homelessness, rapid rehousing funding, as well as funding for motel vouchers for families. This also includes a $200,000 investment in domestic violence and sexual assault housing first and case management programs.

The proposed budget also includes $5 million to fund investments in new best practices, as well as to continue best practices, initially funded as part of the State of Emergency. The new investments include funding to convert an existing shelter to a 24-hour model and funding for a new navigation center, which will be a 24-hour low-barrier shelter with case management. Programs continuing from the State of Emergency investments include funding for rapid rehousing and diversion for single adults, outreach to unsheltered individuals and families, youth case management, and mobile medical van services.

To support system transformation, the proposed budget includes $1.1 million in investments for staffing and data capacity, enhancing the Coordinated Entry system and standing up the Housing Resource Center. Human Services Department (HSD) is making significant changes to their current business practices around homelessness investments, to implement Pathways Home. Performance-based contracting requires new data expertise to collect and interpret both program-and system-level data and a deeper level of expertise to actively monitor fidelity to best practice program models.

As the City transforms its homelessness investment system in coordination with All Home and King County, there is an immediate need to shelter those living in crisis outdoors.  To address this, the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.1 million to maintain stability in shelter and encampments as system changes are made. These investments maintain the additional shelter beds and increased operating hours funded as part of the State of Emergency. The proposed budget also includes funding for a faith-based partnership to expand shelter capacity and operating support. These investments maintain stability in shelter system capacity as HSD moves toward a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for all homeless investments in 2018.

The Mayor and City Council are engaged in efforts to modify encampment cleanup protocols and examine options to provide safe alternatives to camping in public spaces, additional services and supports for people living unsheltered.  A task force has been convened to develop potential recommendations and the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.8 million to improve coordination and outreach; increase safe sleeping locations, shelter and housing options; address public health and safety issues and the storage of belongings.

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City of Seattle, Seattle Housing Authority and Seattle Public Schools announce new Home from School partnership pilot

Today Mayor Ed Murray announced a new partnership between the City of Seattle, the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to provide stable housing for SPS families with school-age children, ensuring an uninterrupted school year and educational consistency. This partnership will begin as a pilot project at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School this year, where 17 percent of the students are homeless or unstably housed.

The Home from School pilot will offer assistance to families to find a stable home, get back on their feet and keep their children at Bailey Gatzert all year. To accomplish this goal, SHA will contract with a service provider to provide outreach, enrollment, and pre and post-move support, including services such as housing research, assistance with barriers to leasing and connecting families to neighborhood resources and services.

“The Home from School partnership is the kind of direct problem solving, innovation and risk taking we need to get our most vulnerable families on the path to stable home and futures.” said Mayor Murray. “For a city and state as wealthy and successful as Seattle and Washington, we cannot accept the reality that thousands of school aged kids are homeless. Through this partnership, we can work to ensure students and their families have a place to call home and an opportunity to succeed.”

More than 80 percent of students at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School qualify for Free and Reduced Priced Lunch and a significant number of these students have experienced complex trauma including housing instability and homelessness. The 2014-2015 student turnover rate for Bailey Gatzert Elementary School was 31 percent.

“This pilot complements Seattle Housing Authority’s long term commitment to redevelop the Yesler Neighborhood.  SHA is in a unique position to positively impact school stability by providing long-term affordable housing options in the neighborhood for families experiencing homelessness, allowing continuity in their neighborhood school,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority.

“The district is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of students experiencing housing instability.  Ensuring uninterrupted educational opportunities for our students is a priority and foundational to their academic success. We are excited to be expanding our partnership with Seattle Housing Authority and the City to address this need,”  said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland.


Participation in the program will be voluntary and priority will be given to families experiencing homelessness. This pilot initiative will begin at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in the Yesler neighborhood, but if results are promising SHA may in the future expand the initiative to different schools in different neighborhoods.

Seattle Public Schools: Seattle Public Schools is committed to ensuring equitable access, closing the opportunity gaps and excellence in education for every student.

Seattle Housing Authority
The mission of the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes. SHA provides long-term, low-income rental housing and rental assistance to more than 30,000 people in the City of Seattle. SHA owns and operates approximately 8,000 units at nearly 400 sites throughout the city. SHA also handles more than 10,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, enabling low-income residents to receive rental assistance throughout the Seattle housing market. Approximately 13,000 SHA residents are elderly or disabled and about 9,500 are children. SHA, a public corporation established in 1939, is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are SHA residents. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. More information is available at




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Mayor Murray statement on Pathways Home, Poppe report

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement on today’s announcement of Pathways Home from the Seattle Human Services Department, and the release of the reports from Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies:

“For the first time, our community has a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the present state of our homeless system and a set of recommended actions for how we achieve real system transformation. The information presented in both the Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies reports is long-awaited, and there is no question that much of it is uncomfortable to hear.

“This is especially true for the thousands of people who are living without a roof over their heads. Our current system does not adequately respond to their needs, and is not effectively helping them exit homelessness. That system, of both funders and providers, also fails to put the many selfless people who work tirelessly to make a difference in a position to succeed in moving people into permanent housing.

“We can no longer wait to take action, so today, we are changing course. These reports represent both a dramatic challenge to our City, and an urgent call to action. Our focus must be on achieving better outcomes, and taking action that makes a visible and significant reduction in the number of people sleeping outside, and Pathways Home is our way to achieve this essential goal. Pathways Home is a robust, actionable plan that our Human Services Department will begin implementing immediately.

“I want to thank Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies for the invaluable insight they have given us for how we can best make progress on what is among the most critical issues facing this city. And I thank my Human Services Director, Catherine Lester, for leading our team in making this plan a reality.”

Details of today’s announcement can be found at

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Mayor announces Task Force on Unsanctioned Encampments Cleanup Protocols

Mayor Ed Murray announced the full list of participants in the Unsanctioned Encampments Cleanup Protocols Task Force today, as well as the schedule of meetings beginning tonight, August 31, 2016, at 6pm in the Bertha Knight Landes room at City Hall. The task force, organized with Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, will meet at least weekly through the end of September, by which time legislation will be presented to City Council to update the cleanup protocol. Co-chaired by Sally Clark and David Moseley, the task force encompasses key stakeholders who will seek to improve clarity, coordination and outreach, as well as ways to address public health and safety issues and storage of belongings.

“Like many communities on the West Coast, Seattle is facing a homelessness crisis that we are working to address with compassion and by focusing on getting as many people into housing as possible,” said Mayor Murray. “As a city, that means both doing everything we can for those who are living on our streets and ensuring we are addressing any emerging public health and safety issues. I look forward to recommendations from the task force on how we can make this process work better for all involved.”

The task force will hold weekly meetings beginning August 31. Each meeting will include sections for public comment and task force members may invite subject matter experts and community representatives to present information. The task force will work to make recommendations in September, with legislation expected to be transmitted by the end of the month.

The full list of task force members is below:

Name Organization
Alison Eisinger Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness
Bill Hallerman Catholic Community Services
Chloe Gale REACH/Evergreen Treatment Services
Daniel Malone Downtown Emergency Services Center
Dave McCormick WSDOT
David Moseley (Co-chair) Former Director of Washington State Ferries
Don Blakeney Downtown Seattle Association
Gretchen Taylor Neighborhood Safety Alliance
Janet Pope Compass Housing Alliance
Katy Miller US Interagency Council on Homelessness
Kima Yandall SODO Business Improvement Area
Leslie Smith Alliance for Pioneer Square
Marcos Martinez Casa Latina
Mark Putnam All Home King County
Eric Stoll Ballard Chamber of Commerce
Pradeepta Upadhyay InterIm CDA
Sally Clark (Co-chair) University of Washington
Sheila Sebron Health Care for the Homeless Network
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Mayor Ed Murray: It’s time for a long-term plan to address homelessness (Op-Ed)

This week, Mayor Ed Murray wrote an article for Seattle Met’s Publicola addressing the state of emergency (SOE) on homelessness, the City’s efforts to find innovative solutions that connect people with services and housing and the creation of a cabinet-level position to develop a long-term strategy to make homelessness a short and rare experience for as few people as possible:

Over the last year since the SOE declaration, we have aimed to address homelessness from many different angles. The SOE focused on increasing the number of shelter beds available to those experiencing homelessness, making services and treatment more readily available, and laying the groundwork for a long-term plan to get more people into steady housing. We know we can do this work better, and serve those living outside better by doing so.

We have run into some road blocks and some expected challenges, but at each juncture have directed our response with two main goals in mind: reduce harm as much as possible and house as many people as possible. With that in mind, we have set out to develop a long-term strategy that will help those currently experiencing homelessness, and divert those who might be on the pathway toward it.

This week, I announced a major piece of that effort by hiring the city’s first Director of Homelessness, George Scarola. This cabinet-level position is responsible for leading the city’s efforts to address homelessness by providing oversight and evaluation of outcomes, strategic guidance, and leading community engagement. The Director will be able to identify and implement institutional changes that ensure we are achieving these outcomes for those who have lived for too long without access to housing.

Read the full article HERE.

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Mayor Murray hires director of homelessness

Mayor Ed Murray today announced that George Scarola will serve as the City’s first ever cabinet-level director of homelessness. Scarola will be responsible for leading the City’s homelessness efforts across departments, providing oversight and evaluation of outcomes, strategic guidance, and leading community engagement.

“Homelessness is a national epidemic, leaving cities like Seattle stepping in to fill the large gaps left behind by state and federal agencies,” said Mayor Murray, “We have made unprecedented investments in homelessness prevention and services.  Because of the growing scope of work around homelessness, Seattle needs a proven manager to ensure we are achieving our desired outcomes. I have known George for many years, working alongside him in Seattle and Olympia, and know him as a unifying leader that excels at creating successful results through community engagement.”

Scarola is an experienced public affairs and community relations manager having led advocacy organizations in Seattle and Olympia for over 25 years. From 1992 to 1998 Scarola led the Sand Point Community Housing Project as Executive Director, which converted housing at the Sand Point Naval Air Station into homes for unsheltered youth, adults, and families. After years of failed school ballot measures, Scarola helped turn the tide for public support for Seattle schools by managing the first success school bonding measure in the spring of 1995, followed by subsequent successful campaigns to fund Seattle schools and affordable housing for adults, seniors, and families.

In the early 2000s, Scarola served as a top aide to Representative Frank Chopp and was Executive Director of the Washington House Democratic Campaign committee during the 2002 election cycle that captured a Democratic majority in the State House. More recently, Scarola served the League of Education Voters as Legislative Director from 2003 to 2012.  This year, Scarola returned from Hefei, China where he was lecturing at the University of Science and Technology of China. Scarola began his career in 1969 teaching at a then recently integrated public elementary school in North Carolina.

“I’ve gotten to know George over the last 20 years, dating back to when he worked with service providers to help convert the former Naval Air Station at Sand Point into housing for people experiencing homelessness,” said Paul Lambros, Executive Director of Plymouth Housing Group. “George is deeply committed to helping Seattle’s most vulnerable residents. We’re looking forward to George taking on this role and leading the City’s efforts in bringing together service providers, community leaders, and homeless advocates to collaboratively address the complex challenge homelessness presents to us all.”

In conjunction with the hiring of Scarola, Mayor Murray issued an executive order calling upon the director of homelessness to oversee and direct key City policy makers responsible for implementing the City’s efforts to address the ongoing homelessness crisis in Seattle. The executive order ensures that the City maintains a consistent approach to planning, budgeting, development and implementation of policies addressing homelessness.

Since taking office, Mayor Murray has increased investments in homelessness response and prevention services to a record $50 million. In 2015, Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency to call on the state and federal government to restore resources and to announce additional funding for shelter beds, a mobile medical van, and harm reduction strategies.

In addition, the City has engaged a national expert on reducing homelessness.  This work along with an analysis of our current homelessness system and recommendations will be announced next month.

Scarola will be paid an annual salary of $137,500. He will start on August, 24th 2016.

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Construction begins on 77 new homes for homeless individuals

Today Mayor Ed Murray celebrated 77 new apartments being built to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless individuals in our city. Plymouth Housing Group’s 7th & Cherry building (710 Cherry Street) joins 127 other affordable housing buildings supported by funding from the City of Seattle that provide stable housing for people experiencing homelessness. In total, the City has funded over 3,500 homes to provide people who are homeless the stability and services they need.

“Today’s groundbreaking represents progress,” said Murray. “It is also a sign of what this City and its partners can do when we invest in strategies that work. Our ‘Housing First’ strategy works. It’s an often untold story that we’re here to tell today. Time and again, when we are able to get people into permanent supportive housing like this, it is the most effective way to help them overcome the underlying causes of homelessness.”

In January 2016, there were nearly 3,000 individuals living without shelter in Seattle. Another 3,200 people were in shelters and transitional housing at the same time. In November 2015, Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency for homelessness and proposed a number of strategies to address the issue such as increasing resources for permanent supportive housing like 7th and Cherry.  The 7th and Cherry project is supported with $7.7 million in City funds, primarily from the 2009 Seattle Housing Levy.

“The prior Seattle Housing Levies have been a critical source of funding for Plymouth’s affordable housing properties,” said Paul Lambros, executive director of Plymouth Housing Group. “Plymouth’s newest project at 7th and Cherry is one example of our response to the Mayor’s state of emergency declaration around homelessness. This project will build on our ‘housing is healthcare’ model and provide 77 permanent homes for people just leaving the streets, including medically fragile men and women.”

Permanent supportive housing provides a stable home for people experiencing homelessness along with the social services they need to succeed. The cost of one of these units is just $35 per night compared to $130 for jail, $2,000 for a psychiatric facility, and $4,000 for a hospital stay.

“For over 35 years, the City of Seattle has funded affordable housing for our most vulnerable residents,” said Steve Walker, director of the Seattle Office of Housing. “Our investments have proven results not just for the people who gain the stability of a roof over their head, but for the long-term health of our community as well.”




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