Seattle’s new homeless navigation center opens Wednesday and will be a new resource to confront the city’s homelessness problem.
It’s more than a shelter. There are sleeping rooms with 75 beds and lock boxes to keep peoples' belongings safe. There's a commercial kitchen preparing three meals a day, a computer room, showers, a place for pets, and teams of case managers to help connect people with mental health services, addiction treatment, and long-term housing. Seattle budgeted $2.7 million for the center.
“Let’s see how this works,” Murray said during a tour, Tuesday.
This is very much an experiment, modeled off of a similar center in San Francisco. Homeless people will need a referral from a city outreach worker to stay there. Many of those people will have substance abuse problems, and they will be allowed to use drugs and alcohol in the city-funded building.
“There’s unsupervised consumption happening all over the city as we speak, so, sure, there will be unsupervised consumption,” said Daniel Malone, executive director of Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), the contractor running the facility.
They say they want people to feel safe there, but they know they can't serve homeless people if they have to turn them away for their addictions.
People who move into the new navigation center will be allowed to stay for 60 days. After that, they have to move on.
Managers of the new navigation center say they're concerned they won't be able to find enough long-term housing for people who hit that 60-day limit.
“We’re going to try as hard as we can, but we don't have guarantees of housing for the people who are going to be staying here,” Malone said.