Bringing an emergency response to unsheltered homelessness
The Partnership for Zero collaboration today announced that the Housing Command Center (HCC) is fully operational and working every day to help people move from homeless to housed.
“When we work together to focus and coordinate resources, we can, in fact, house people,” said Marc Dones, CEO of the Regional Homelessness Authority. “Imagine if we lived in a place where no matter what you look like or where you come from, you could count on having a roof over your head. That’s what we’re working towards, today and every day.”
“This level of engaged and active partnership, combined with the urgency of an emergency response, is necessary to help people off of the streets, indoors, and on the path to recovery,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Hosting the Housing Command Center at the City’s Emergency Operations Center means enhanced coordination of on-the-ground efforts and situation monitoring, as we continue to build coalitions and marshal resources to drive sustainable change. This crisis cannot be solved alone, and we are grateful for the support of our federal and local government partners, philanthropies and businesses, nonprofits and neighbors, who align on the shared mission that no one should have to live outdoors.”
The Housing Command Center is the backbone of Partnership for Zero, acting as a centralized emergency operations management system, coordinating and streamlining the actions required to house people. A command center takes best practices learned from years of emergency response to disasters like floods, fires and other major displacements, and applies them to homelessness.
The HCC uses a Housing First approach. Housing First is an evidence-based strategy recognizing that housing, and the safety and stability it provides, is a necessary first step to helping people rebuild their lives. Housing first is not housing only, but housing first starts with a solid foundation—a safe place to live—and builds on it with healthcare, treatment, social services, and education or work supports.
At the invitation of the Regional Homelessness Authority, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided technical assistance to set up the Housing Command Center and emergency management protocols.
“Our HUD team is on the ground supporting this critical mission,” said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Margaret Salazar. “Through technical assistance and daily hands-on interaction, we stand by our partners as they stand up the Housing Command Center. This will serve as a model across the country for what can be accomplished when we all collaborate and come together in common purpose to laser focus on getting people into homes.”
“I applaud the Regional Homelessness Authority for working with HUD to set up a Housing Command Center that will benefit all of our communities across King County,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “It is the shared focus on solutions and collaborative partnership that brings us one step closer to ensuring that everyone has a safe place to call home.”
Focus on Solutions
Currently, the HCC is focused on permanently housing people living unsheltered in Downtown Seattle and the Chinatown International District, and, with sufficient resources, will scale to other parts of the County.
To date, the Housing Command Center and Partnership for Zero have:
- Hired, trained, and deployed 25 Systems Advocates
- Coordinated outreach with non-profit partners working downtown, including PDA (JustCARE / CoLEAD), the HOPE Team, and REACH, with additional partnerships in development
- Strengthened partnerships with Housing Connector, the Seattle Office of Housing, Seattle Housing Authority, the King County Housing Authority, and private landlords for the pool of available housing units
- Developed partnerships with YWCA and CORT furniture to provide basic furniture, kitchen tools and hygiene kits for people moving in
- Engaged with over 660 people living unsheltered downtown, many of whom had no previous service connection, and included them in a By Name List to ensure individualized support
- Identified 310 potential housing units
- Started the housing matching process to begin resolving three encampments in Downtown Seattle and the CID, with an additional two encampment resolutions to start next week
The HCC works rapidly to identify permanent housing units, identify eligible households, and match the households to the housing units. As individual needs are assessed and added to the By-Name List, the Housing Command Center matches people with housing and services in an ongoing process based on available resources.
The result is that people are housed with at least a 12-month lease, have a move-in kit with some household supplies and basic furniture, are connected to necessary services, and know that our team of Systems Advocates will stay with them for at least a year, including working with their landlord, to ensure that they have the support to stay housed.
The gaps identified between available resources and population needs will inform future recommendations on funding, infrastructure and capacity.
Collaboration & Partnership
“The Housing Command Center represents a highly effective approach,” said Dr. Lamont Green, Lived Experience Coalition Community Organizer. “All the coordinating bodies, in partnership with those with lived experience of homelessness, are under one roof and having face-to-face communications to make rapid, real-time, and data-driven coordination and resource decisions that eliminate a lot of red tape and result in our unhoused neighbors moving off the streets and on the path to permanent housing.”
“We Are In is proud to be part of the Housing Command Center leadership team and the ongoing implementation of Partnership for Zero,” said Felicia Salcedo, Executive Director of We Are In. “Housing solves homelessness, and the Housing Command Center will allow us to coordinate our resources and accelerate our efforts toward getting people housed, starting in Downtown Seattle and the Chinatown International District. The collaboration we’ve seen through Partnership for Zero and HUD’s support for the HCC shows us that we can meaningfully address homelessness when we truly work together.”
“We’ve been honored to have our JustCARE field team collaborate in this work,” said Lisa Daugaard, Executive Director of PDA. “Our community has long awaited this level of operational resolve and project management in responding to unsheltered homelessness. We’re extremely hopeful that KCRHA’s downtown effort will yield significant neighborhood impact, and will provide long-awaited stabilization and support for hundreds of people with complex needs.”
Leadership at the Housing Command Center includes representatives of the Lived Experience Coalition, the City of Seattle, King County, and the Regional Homelessness Authority. The HCC also includes System Advocates and outreach teams, a Housing Acquisition Team, a Data Management Team, and many public and private partners.
Accountability & Transparency
To ensure transparency and accountability, members of the public are invited to come observe HCC tactical meetings at the Seattle Emergency Operations Center, and may sign up using this form.
The partnership will continue to provide the public with transparency and accountability through regular updates as we help more people move from homeless to housed.