Moving forward with the first Seattle Navigation Center



Last week the Mayor announced that our first  Navigation Center will be housed in the International District in the Pearl Warren Building.

I have heard some concerns about location, and I will say that nearly every neighborhood initially has concerns about the location of human service facilities.  That said, we have seen in Seattle over the past year movement toward the idea that every neighborhood can be part of the solution, that neighbors have a right to expect amenities such a garbage cans, running water, and more police presence at shelters and encampments, and simultaneously people experiencing homelessness can be welcomed as good neighbors.

Establishing  the Navigation Center  is a critical piece of our Pathways Home Plan in developing a person-centered effort, and moving individuals inside and ultimately helping them secure housing and needed services is our best approach to reduce homelessness.  We are modeling this Navigation Center after what has been successful in San Francisco.

Our new Navigation Center will provide safe and supported indoor space for people experiencing homelessness. I wrote about my visit to the San Francisco  Navigation Center last May that addresses many needs that other shelters can’t address, including space for possessions, pets, and partners and offering “radical hospitality” where people’s individual needs are addressed.

Seattle Met’s Rianna Hildago recently wrote about the  San Francisco Navigation Center and the impacts on people who are experiencing homelessness.   The success San Francisco is having in the Mission District has been documented, so much so that San Francisco intends to open up three more Navigation Centers.  Yes, like in Seattle, some San Francisco neighborhoods have pushed back when sites are contemplated in their neighborhood, but things are changing there, too.   A new Navigation Center to be opened this March has actually been embraced by neighbors and welcomed by the Dogpatch neighborhood.

In Seattle, support staff and residents will work together to create personalized plans to find permanent housing while providing the basics –  restrooms, showers, storage and a place to call home — for now.  Seattle is also committed to working with neighborhoods so that addressing homelessness is something we can all get behind with parameters.  As I have said repeatedly, government cannot solved the problem of homelessness alone.  We all need to get involved in one supportive way or another.

I am encouraged that San Francisco neighborhoods have shown that Navigation Centers can be positive additions.  Seattle is providing needed 24/7 shelter –with storage facilities — and I am proud to partner with DESC, our neighborhoods, our caregivers, service providers and police to provide care and a pathway to a better life for some of our most vulnerable residents.

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