Recap: February Severe Weather Response

In collaboration with cities across the region, the RHA activated a Cold Weather Shelter response during the last week of February 2022. Here are some highlights:

  • Supplies – We authorized over $50,000 in flexible emergency funding to 23 different service providers, to cover costs of warming supplies like blankets, sleeping bags, socks, hand warmers, etc; with a 50/50 split between Seattle-based and other sub-regional providers.
  • Communication – Daily coordination calls with providers in each sub-region, regularly updated printable flyers for outreach, regularly updated blog post here, and significant media coverage.
  • Seattle Overnight – Expanded capacity at two locations to serve up to 136 more people and service animals at City Hall and Compass; nightly usage reached a high of 80 individuals on Friday night. Dinner and hygiene supplies were provided, and City Hall also hosted a vaccination clinic. The population served was fairly consistent, providers were able to build relationships with the clients, and many of the people served were referred to permanent shelter spaces.. 
  • Seattle Daytime – At the request of the Authority, Seattle City Hall stayed open until 10am each morning to ensure that people were able to stay warm in early morning hours, and we’re grateful to our partners at Seattle Finance & Administrative Services for making that possible. Compass opened early at 7am, and LIHI volunteered to open the lobby of the Frye building at 7am, in addition to regularly operating day centers and libraries.
  • East King – Four sites with expanded capacity, including hotel/motel access, for a total of over 50 new beds made available.
  • South King – Two emergency sites (Renton and Burien) and one site with expanded capacity (Auburn) for a total of 150 new spaces that served a peak of 112 individuals; plus both the Auburn and Renton sites hosted vaccination clinics. Outreach workers had bus tickets available for transportation to help clients reach open beds in other locations when these shelters ceased their severe weather response
  • North King – One site in Shoreline with capacity of 15, served 11 at peak.
  • Libraries – We appreciate the Seattle and King County library systems for offering daytime warming space and providing information about shelter and resources.
  • Feedback – We acknowledge that constituents are seeking more 24/7 non-congregate options, and overnight options that stay open for longer in the morning. We also heard a need for better communication with people experiencing homelessness about what is open. We have a survey out to providers for feedback on activation and response.
  • Planning – We are developing a draft tiered response framework for severe weather that will include actions for various levels of cold, heat and smoke. Our data team is also working with NOAA on an alert trigger that will automatically notify us in advance of impending severe weather.

As always, we will continue to advocate for more permanent housing and shelter options that meet people’s needs year-round.