On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced plans to create an around-the-clock, dormitory-style living facility for the homeless. He wants it up and running by December 31, 2016.
Murray signed the executive order just one day after he visited several homeless encampments beneath Interstate 5.
The program would be modeled after the San Francisco Navigation Center, which Murray and other city leaders visited earlier this year. It's a 24/7 one-stop shop that provides people with more than a place to sleep. There would be showers and laundry centers, along with storage for personal possessions and even room for pets.
In a statement, the mayor said pets, partners, and possessions typically are not allowed in shelters. He said that's why so many people wind up living in tent cities or on the streets instead of in shelters.
"This kind of comprehensive, person-centered approach has been used successfully in San Francisco to help people move back from the streets into permanent homes," said Murray. "We want to duplicate that success here."
Seattle's version of the navigation center would serve up to 75 people at a time.
So where would it be located?
That's not yet known. In the executive order, the mayor tasks the Human Services Department to evaluate the navigation center model and develop a program tailored to Seattle's specific needs and circumstances. The mayor is giving the department a 60-day deadline to develop that plan.
The city's goal is to launch the center by December 31, 2016.
As for funding, the mayor said the facility would be funded in part by $600,000 secured by the city in the state capital budget in the 2016 legislative session. The mayor says the city would then match that state appropriation with a private donation of $600,000 earmarked for homelessness services and would establish a designated fund to collect additional private donations to support the center.
So will the plan work?
The program has proven to be successful in San Francisco. Mayor Ed Murray hopes the same holds true in Seattle.