Seattle mayor signs $13 million law creating 500 shelter beds

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signs $13 million law creating 500 new shelter beds

A new homeless shelter plan signed into law on Friday aims reduce the number of street tents on Seattle streets and help outreach workers find places for people to stay.

Mayor Jenny Durkan signed a $13 million, one-time funding plan to create 500 new shelter beds in the next 90 days. Currently the city contracts non-profits to operate roughly 2,000 shelter beds

The bill will increase the number of bridge housing and shelter units by 25 percent, the largest single increase in the city’s history according the Mayor’s Office.

After years on the street, in and out of tent cities, William ‘Catfish’ Nichols is ready to seek permanent housing and find a job, but recently when he said yes to outreach workers, he was told the shelters were full.

“There’s nothing, it’s filled today,” Nichols said the Navigation Team told him, “We only have one bed or we’ll give it to you tomorrow, nothing.”

Durkan hopes the new shelters will provide more options to outreach workers when a homeless person agrees to shelter.

“By increasing our shelter capacity, so much in a short period of time, we are really hoping that we are able to have places for people to go,” said Durkan.

One of the new shelter spaces is the lobby of City Hall. Starting June 29, 120 could be sleeping in the lobby from 9:30pm to 6:00am. Currently, up to 80 people spend the night in a space on the bottom floor of City Hall, each getting a meal and storage for their items.

“And as far as the storage and the meal go, I think it's just a good assumption that we will quickly add those pieces upstairs in the lobby,” said Phil Smith of the Salvation Army which is contracted to run both City Hall shelters.

The plan also includes three new tiny house villages. One is scheduled to open on what is now a city owned parking lot at 8th and Aloha.

But some neighbors including KTTH talk show host Jason Rantz complain the city if force feeding the camp into the neighborhood.

“It’s frustrating. They already built the tiny home villages. They've already created the budget. They've already decided that they are going to put it here,” said Rantz, “Public comment means absolutely nothing with this council and with this mayor's office and that's unfortunate.”

A month ago, Dr. Mona Radheshwar didn’t know the empty apartment building next to her veterinarian clinic will be housing 100 people later this summer -- until KOMO News told her.

“When you alerted me, I started making phone calls, trying to get as much information, and have not gotten any answers,” said Dr. Radheshwar.

The building will become a ‘low barrier’ to entry shelter meaning people with substance abuse issues, coupled with pets could possibly stay.

“That’s all I’m asking right now is kind of keep the business owners in the loop because we are the ones who live here day-in and day-out and see the current situation on the street,” said Dr. Radheshwar.

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