SEATTLE (KOMO) — The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) and Seattle leaders announced the activation of the city’s emergency operations center to address the homelessness crisis.
Dubbed the Housing Command Center, the facility is now functioning as a hub for homeless resources in the region in a "disaster response frame of mind", according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional administrator Margaret Salazar.
“Just like folks are doing on the ground right now in Florida post hurricane, with that kind of mentality – how can we work with urgency, efficiency, and collaboration?” Salazar told KOMO News.
HUD is providing technical assistance to bring together outreach and housing resource organizations into one space.
“We’re all pulling in the same direction and that’s the force that you need after a disaster to make sure folks get rehoused and that’s the approach we are taking here. Even well-intentioned folks that are administering programs and resources and engaging community members may not be doing that at common purpose with everyone in the same virtual or literal room,” Salazar said.
According to the KCRHA, the command center has already identified more than 300 potential housing units and engaged with 660 people who are living unsheltered in downtown Seattle.
KCRHA CEO Marc Dones said the new approach aims to give people experiencing homelessness at least three options for housing.
“The majority of people turn down things that don’t work for them. That is what people have said no to – do you want to move into a congregate shelter where you don’t have room for your stuff, where we can’t take your pets, where it’s gender-segregated so you can’t be a couple – those are the things people have said ‘that doesn’t work for me,” Dones said at a press conference Wednesday morning.
Dones said the operations center will also coordinate basic furniture for apartments and services to help people move in, as well as advocates who will work with landlords to ensure tenants can stay housed.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell spoke briefly at Wednesday’s press conference and said his recently proposed budget includes $ 90 million to increase the budget of the KCRHA, which would be roughly a 13% increase.
Harrell said the Housing Command Center will "supercharge" street outreach in the city.
“No one should have to live homeless or outdoors,” he said.
KOMO will have continuing coverage of the Housing Command Center on KOMO 4 News this afternoon.