In a media event at the new Whittier Heights Village for Women, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a short-term plan to get more homeless people off the street.
The plans aims to increase the number of shelter units in the next 90 days by 25% to serve an additional 522 people every night.
“Our shelters have been running at 93% full for several months,” Durkan said. “We have no place to move people that is safe. So I understand that this city is demanding results.”
She added, “We will not serve everybody, but it will make a marked difference.”
To add the new shelter capacity, Durkan said the city will add capacity to existing shelters as well as open two more tiny house camps: one at 18th and Yesler and another in South Lake Union, most likely at 8th and Aloha. The Whittier Heights Village for Women on 15th Ave. NW near 80th St. will open soon with room for 19 homeless women. The city will also offer temporary housing at Haddon Hall, an apartment building in Belltown.
Durkan said this is just a short-term boost to accompany longer term efforts to address core issues like behavioral health and affordable housing.
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw also spoke at the event, calling on the state to help the city and county in the fight against homelessness.
“I want to call on our governor today,” Bagshaw said. “We need the help from the state and the region to do this, we cannot do all of it on the backs of Seattle taxpayers.”
The mayor was asked “why the city refuses to answer questions” about tiny houses camps — specifically plans to build one in South Lake Union.
“We are committed to real engagement. We want to hear from neighbors what their real concerns are,” Durkan responded. “I want to be as transparent as possible.”
She also admitted that the city needs to do a better job evaluating data surrounding tiny houses camps to get a better sense of impact and success.
(Photo above from Mayor Durkan’s Twitter account.)