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Durkan plan would add homeless shelter beds, funds for Seattle housing in pandemic

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's plan would open 425 short-term shelter beds and then help people transition to permanent housing.

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday her proposal to move hundreds of people experiencing homelessness to safer spaces during the coronavirus pandemic. The $34 million investment is part of her 2021 budget.

The majority of that funding, more than $31 million, comes from one-time COVID-specific federal and state funding to address housing and homelessness. An additional $2.75 million in ongoing funding will also be allocated.

The mayor proposes to open up 425 short-term shelter beds and invest in housing support programs to transition people into permanent supportive housing.

“With new one-time federal funding, the City can surge short term emergency shelter and ensure individuals then have connections to housing," Durkan said in a statement. "This record investment means hundreds of people will come in from the street over the coming months, protecting them from COVID-19."

Next year, the city expects an additional 600 units of permanent supportive housing will open. The 2021 budget is also expected to continue supporting approximately 2,300 living spaces, investments in hygiene, and support for housing, and resources for diversion and rapid rehousing.

The mayor’s office says that since 2017, the city has worked to add additional investments for 24/7 spaces and tiny home villages. In 2017, the city had 964 basic shelter beds, 749 enhanced shelter spaces and 255 spaces at sanctioned encampments. In 2020, there are now 514 basic shelter spaces, 1,518 enhanced and 311 tiny homes, according to the city.

The plan will need city council approval as part of the budget process.

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