Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell shared additional details of his Unified Care Team plan for clean and accessible Seattle neighborhoods, parks, and open spaces as included in the mayor's One Seattle Budget Proposal. The proposal includes new investments to enhance services offered by the Unified Care Team and to adjust from one citywide approach to several geographic-based teams focused on serving neighborhoods.
The budget would also preserve previously ‘one-time’ investments, funding employees and activities to address trash and litter, clean up encampments and areas around encampments, and support housed and unhoused residents in Seattle.
“As long as people live in parks and on sidewalks and sleep in tents and on benches, we refuse to be complacent,” said Mayor Harrell. “Our administration’s immediate priority has been to stand up a better system and act with urgency and compassion to address the impacts of homelessness – helping people off the streets and into shelter while we also work to make sidewalks, parks, and open spaces accessible to all. My proposed budget reflects our plan to draw from lessons learned, build on this early work, and develop a more swift, effective, and sustainable City response.”
One of his first actions in office, Mayor Harrell formed the City’s Unified Care Team, bringing together for the first time more than a dozen City departments and partners to drive a united, collaborative approach. Reversing past practice of departments working in silos, the Unified Care Team brings an approach based on coordinated, strategic and data-driven action – with a shared goal of ensuring Seattle’s public spaces, sidewalks and streets remain open and accessible to all.
This year, the work has focused on key building blocks – developing new processes, practices, and partnerships – and putting them into action. The work of the Unified Care Team has led to over 1,300 shelter referrals and a significant reduction of tents in parks and other high use areas. By consolidating datasets from across departments, the Unified Care Team has strengthened cross-departmental analytics and reporting and allowed for increased transparency to the public through projects like the Homelessness Action Plan dashboard.
Improvements also include the launch of a new customer service process to report unauthorized encampments – allowing the City to inspect new encampments, triage the request to the most appropriate response, and ensure residents receive status updates. These service requests provide critical information to better understand the scope of unsheltered homelessness and inform responses.
In this budget proposal, Mayor Harrell is proposing to both maintain current levels of service and drive continued improvement by shifting how the Unified Care Team operates, reorienting from one citywide focus to four to six geographically-based teams centered on specific areas of the city. This will allow teams to build relationships with community, housed and unhoused neighbors, outreach teams, and businesses within the region – delivering better results for all Seattle residents.
Mayor Harrell’s budget proposal includes:
$38.2 million to maintain and improve current levels of service for clean city, trash mitigation, encampment resolution, and RV remediation initiatives. This will ensure communities do not see a reduction in service levels by providing ongoing funding, and replaces current temporary jobs with permanent, full-time roles.
New investments to support a more responsive structure through neighborhood-based services and outreach, which includes:
150% increase in employees who will engage with stakeholders, services providers, the RHA and unhoused residents to facilitate connections to community resources and city services.
New resources to improve coordination, training, and team deployment; strengthen customer service response capacity; and enhance data collection and analysis.
In addition to the work of the Unified Care Team, Mayor Harrell’s budget proposal includes robust investments to drive compassionate and urgent action on the homelessness crisis. Mayor Harrell is proposing: to increase the City’s investments in the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to nearly $90 million for outreach, shelter, and other critical programs; to fund ongoing shelters as well as new tiny homes and safe lots; and to make the largest one-year investment in affordable housing in the City’s history – nearly $250 million dollars. WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING Marc Dones, CEO, King County Regional Homelessness Authority "The Mayor's Unified Care Team is another example of how the City is changing the way we work together in order to get better results. By breaking down silos, and improving coordination of information and resources, the UCT is a key partner in our work to end homelessness so that all our neighbors can thrive." Quynh Pham, Executive Director, Friends of Little Saigon "Friends of Little Saigon commends Mayor Harrell for transitioning a broad citywide approach to a place-based strategy with the Unified Care Team. This is what neighborhoods, like Little Saigon, need when it comes to effective coordination and measurable outcomes. We're looking forward to what the UCT can do in the coming year with this additional funding support." Maria Chavez-Wilcox, CEO, YWCA “Having clean, open, accessible parks and green spaces is an important component of a healthy community. But equitable access, no matter who you are or what part of the city you live in—that is the key to creating thriving, growing, welcoming community. This budget proposal is built on that principle of equity and increased collaboration with all of Seattle’s neighborhoods and communities.” Greg Whittaker, Owner, Mountain to Sound Outfitters in West Seattle "For small businesses and storefronts to be successful, they need our neighborhoods to be accessible and welcoming to all. The City's Unified Care Team has been a strong partner in helping make that a reality through action and collaboration. There are no quick fixes to the challenges at hand, but this proposal and approach is about acting holistically and with urgency – addressing immediate issues, being responsive to communities, and helping get housed and unhoused people connected to the resources they need, while helping our retail storefronts to continue to offer services to our customers." Unified Care Team Statistics
Since the Unauthorized Encampment service request form was launched in late June on the City’s Find It, Fix It app, more than 20,000 Unauthorized Encampment forms have been submitted—an average of 800 to 1,000 forms submitted every week.
In mid-2021, nearly 100 of the parks and natural areas managed by Seattle Parks and Recreation were closed or impacted by unauthorized encampments. Currently, 93% of the City’s 450+ parks and green spaces are fully open and accessible to the public for their intended use.
Approximately 2 million tons of trash and debris was collected by UCT-coordinated crews so far this year.
The Unified Care Team has made over 1,300 shelter referrals and resolved an estimated 500 unauthorized encampments between mid-February and the end of September.
Collaborations between the Unified Care Team, King Country Regional Homelessness Authority, community organizations and outreach providers have shown strong early results, including the largest number of shelter referrals from one encampment resolution in City history at Woodland Park.