City looks to San Francisco for guidance on homeless crisis

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SEATTLE -- You don't have to look very hard outside City Hall to see homeless.

But Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the Seattle City Council's committee on Human Services and Public Health, takes issue with argument that a strategy to end homelessness has failed.

"I don't think it's fair to say that it hasn't worked. We've made incremental progress."

Bagshaw also isn't afraid to acknowledge looking outside the city for guidance.

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On Friday, she, like Mayor Ed Murray and Council member Tim Burgess before her, visited San Francisco's Navigation Center.

The pilot program, kick-started last year by a $3 million anonymous donation, has been wildly successful. It gives a select number of homeless people a bed, in a 24/7 shelter, and a place for partners, pets and possessions.

"Once you get stabilized," she says, "That housing first model, then you can start working on the other things bothering you."

"Our places where people go, that are temporary shelters, people show up at 7 at night and thrown out at 7 in the morning," she says. "So they don't have a chance to stabilize."

San Francisco is now looking at potentially expanding the program.

Bagshaw says it may just be one part of an overall solution to reduce the number of homeless living on the streets.

"It's public will, and it takes our city deciding that's what we're going to do."