Notes from Shoreline council meeting April 25, 2022 - responding to homelessness in Shoreline

Friday, April 29, 2022

Pam Cross, reporter
Shoreline City Council Meeting
April 25, 2022

Notes by Pam Cross

The remote meeting was called to order at 7:00pm by Mayor Scully.

All Councilmembers were present.

Approval of the Agenda
The agenda was approved by unanimous consent.

Report of the City Manager, Debbie Tarry
Presented by Ms. Tarry

Public Reminders

The PRCS/Tree Board will hold a remote meeting on Thursday, April 28.

Council Reports

CM Mork attended the King County - Cities Climate Collaboration (K4C) which was the first meeting for electeds. It was very informative. They talked about the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the kinds of money that are available. Dow Constantine was the Chair. The City of Bellevue talking about the second half of the bill which is about their Vision Zero Plan (zero fatalities from traffic accidents), and how that works in conjunction with the climate change initiative because if people feel safe biking or walking, then they won’t be driving and this saves us from greenhouse gas.

DM Robertson attended the Regional Transit Committee for King County. One of the highlights was the announcement of the opening of the electric charging station for the Metro bus fleet. It can charge up to 9 buses at a time. It will also be used for other electric vehicles in their fleet.

Public Comment

Each speaker allowed 3 minutes.
There were no written comments at the time this report was prepared.
Link to public comment received

The Oaks Enhanced Shelter
Jackie Kurle, Shoreline
Heidi Shepherd, Shoreline

Saving Shoreline Trees
Nancy Morris, Shoreline
Kathleen Russell, Shoreline

Dealing drugs, racing etc. with limited police response
Rodrigo Celis, Shoreline

Proposed 7-story apartment on Linden Ave N
Derek Blackwell, Shoreline

Approval of the Consent Calendar
The Consent Calendar was approved unanimously.

Study Item 8(a) Update on Lake City Partners and King County Regional Homelessness Authority

Presented by Bethany Wolbrecht-Dunn, Community Services Manager

In 2015, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 379 supporting King County’s proclamation of emergency regarding homelessness in King County. We also had a Council Goal to site a shelter in North King County. The availability of The Oaks location and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority made this possible.

In addition to The Oaks Enhanced Shelter, Shoreline’s Severe Weather Shelter is in its 3rd season. In 2021-2022 it was activated 12 times with an average of 7 guests each night. This is done in partnership with St. Dunstan’s Church and the North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA).

The City also funds an outreach specialist at Lake City Partners (LCP). This person comes out to the severe weather shelter site to provide additional support and services. They also spend time in the community and the parks, and respond to calls placed to the Crisis Response Team (CRT).

Homelessness is a regional and national problem so it is important to coordinate with our other North King County cities and other agencies. Shoreline belongs to NE Funders, North Urban Human Services Alliance, North King County Shelter Task Force and King County Regional Homelessness Authority.

The Oaks Enhanced Shelter opened April 1, 2021, and has a 60-person capacity. It is operated at capacity with a waiting list. It is managed by Lake City Partners (LCP) who previously ran a rotating overnight winter shelter (not severe weather). They also manage a Day Center called God’s Lil’ Acre in Lake City.

A total of 96 people were served at The Oaks.

Presentation by Walter Washington, Outgoing Executive Director of LCP

My transition is going to take some time. I anticipate I will be intimately involved with this for the foreseeable future.

We just celebrated one year at The Oaks. We are happy and proud to say we have helped more people into housing, and we’ve had a great deal of resiliency with our staff considering the difficulties resulting from COVID, especially for a 24 hour program. We think it’s the most progressive 24 hour shelter in the region. 60 individual rooms with 60 guests. It’s a fantastic facility with high ceilings and wide hallways. More than 15 bathrooms. There is a secret garden located in the middle which allows people to safely go outside.

We are the first contact for some of the people and many have been homeless for many years.

Housing readiness can take about 4-6 months. We want to place the people who leave in a community they are familiar with. When they move into a familiar community they have access to senior centers or other services they might have used before. And we want to follow up in 6 months to see if they still are where we placed them and if they have connected to the community.

We are focusing on community-based case management following outreach. The contract with Shoreline has been really successful. The outreach worker does a lot of triage work and resource navigation no matter where folks are located - in a park, in a car, or standing in front of a store. She gets to know them by name. She works to get them either on the waitlist (we call it the service lobby) at The Oaks, or to connect them to other resources in the area.

At The Oaks we know where they are so we can provide them with services. The next step is community-based case management. We had some fantastic success with the diversion program at the end of the year. Stemming from the cold weather and with United Way funding and our relationship with St Dunstan’s Church providing cold weather shelter, the diversion program was able to get some folks out of the cold weather shelters and directly into housing - skipping the shelter entirely. These people were housing ready and just needed the housing. We placed one individual in Florida.

We are lucky to have a nurse on staff so we are include health services. This was helpful not only for our guests but for our staff as well.

There are challenges: the wait list. We have only 60 rooms and we try to keep 25 people on the waitlist.

Housing inventory is a problem by itself, but that is coupled with where is it located. If it’s located in the southern part of the county, many of our participants want to stay in north king county where they have lived for many years.

We need more diversion funds. That way we can work with folks to get them housing ready. Sometimes all they need is just an ID.

Presenter Mark Dones, CEO KCRHA

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (Authority) was formed because a regional coordinating solution was necessary if we were going to make any meaningful change in King County.

The Authority started with just me as an employee, after a few weeks there were three of us, and Alexis made four. We are now about 55 folks. Most of our core operating systems are in place. Our contracting is about halfway implemented. We have 220 contracts.

We started out with zero infrastructure. We were a start-up and I had to do everything from setting up an email account and using my own credit card to get a Zoom account. There aren’t a lot of guide books for a government start up.

This year we are going to publish our 5 year plan in September. So 2023 is when we should start seeing significant change.

Our Theory of Change
If we create a homeless response system that centers the voices of people with lived experience, then we will be able to meet needs and eliminate inequities, in order to end homelessness for all.

Our staff is about 50% those with lived experience, including me. We also have technical expertise. I’ve been working in public policy for over a decade and I’m a Psychiatric Anthropologist by training.

Collaboration is important to us. This is not the Authority’s road show. We play a coordinating function and a funding function, trying to set goals and help folks move towards them. The level of crisis that we are at is so significant that it will only be possible to solve if we are actually all behind it, and that doesn’t happen when you force people. That happens when you build a relationship and really hold and share a common value for how to move forward.
Part of our role was the creation of a new Ombuds Office to serve as a single point of contact to support system navigation and maintain accountability to people experiencing homelessness.

We are also responsible for the establishment of clear metrics and milestones for measuring success, and for ensuring accountability and transparency.

We are the thing that people think of when they think of the homelessness crisis response system. But we are not housing capital and development or encampment clean. We are not the behavioral health system (although we may coordinate with them).

The Authority’s staff breakdown is, and I’m quite proud of this:
  • 62% identity as non-white
  • 42% identify as LGBTQ+
  • 50% identify as having lived experience
This is reflective of our attempt as the leadership team to shape an agency that reflects the community we serve. To my knowledge, the number of people who stated Shoreline was their last place of residence prior to experiencing homelessness was 210. Our goal, just to be very clear, is to make sure that every community in the county has the infrastructure necessary to support the number of people who experience housing instability in their community, and that folks are not forced to migrate around the county in order to get services.

There is a hyper concentration of services in Seattle, in particular Downtown Seattle, that pull people in. But when I talk to folks around the county who are experiencing homelessness, what I hear most often is they “don’t want to end up in Seattle.” That’s the thing they are trying to avoid - they want to stay in their community. For this reason we are attempting to align shelters and supporting services for each community based on what we see from the data.

We do work within an equity-based framework. We lead with the people who are most impacted; identify existing inequities and power dynamics; act with transparency and accountability; and proactively eliminate racial inequities and advance equity.

Presenter Alexis Mercedes Rinck, KCRHA Subregional Planning Manager

Some of you remember me from when I was with the Sound Cities Association where I was staff for human services, public health committees, and so forth with services relating to homelessness. Coming to this position I have experience and understanding of jurisdictions outside of Seattle. I did an initial canvass on what is actually our landscape and who are the players regionally when it comes to addressing homelessness.

The 7 subregions are North KingCo, East KingCo, the Snoqualmie Valley, Seattle Metro Urban and unincorporated KingCo, South KingCo, and SE KingCo. 

Snoqualmie Valley and SE KingCo are more rural and the types of services the homeless community is able to access are dramatically different.

In North King County we are engaging with the North Urban Human Services Alliance (NUHSA) and the North King Co. Coalition on Homelessness (which evolved from The Oaks). We are in contact not only with the various service providers in N. KingCo but the various system partners that are serving N. KingCo. 

While they’re not specifically a homelessness service provider, they are often serving people that are experiencing homelessness. I’m thinking of the RADAR/Navigator program as well as the Center for Human Services. We are also working with some of our other countywide partners such as King County Public Health and the library locations. Many libraries are serving as kind of default day centers for those who are experiencing homelessness and are a tremendous community resource.

We recently underwent our Understanding Unsheltered Homelessness Project

We invited folks to share their stories and we asked a variety of questions that were formed by a series of workshops that we conducted around the region. We had over 200 participants in these workshops.

The Aurora Commons is located at 8914 Aurora Ave N, Seattle so we provided bus tickets to people from Shoreline so they were able to get to the location. All people that agreed to be interviewed were compensated for their time. We had an unprecedented 600 interviews - the most this country has collected at a single time. We hope to turn out a community report on the findings by this summer.

In the North KingCo subregion, we have about 143 emergency shelter beds that are specifically for children, in addition to the adults at The Oaks. There 18 beds for transitional housing in Bothell primarily for young adults, and 63 beds for permanent supportive housing. All 63 beds are serving veterans, so that’s an important element to add that these are very subpopulation specific beds. (Total 224)

Our Homelessness Management Information Systems (HMIS) data on North KingCo individuals accessing homelessness service showed (as of 3/10/22) 410 people who identified a North KingCo city as their last residence. 210 (51%) of them specified Shoreline. Note that these numbers do not include those who are not currently accessing services.



We appreciate all you do. And Alexis does a great job but she has a lot of territory to cover (seven sub-regions). So in the future we would really like a subregional planning director for North King County.
  • Reply: We are trying for a more robust operation budget for 2023 so that we can expand some of our planning functions. We are less than optimally staffed right now.
I continue to advocate for The Oaks. We know that it’s successful and we want to secure that future.
  • Reply: I think The Oaks is a remarkable program. It is one of the most significantly advanced non-congregate shelters in the county. The model is sound and the data is good. I would certainly encourage that LCP to look at our non-congregate shelter funding and start applying. We do have to fund through competitive procurement, though. We cannot fund something that does not win a bid through a competitive process.
I was impressed by my tour of The Oaks. We’ve found that short stays don’t work. It is not the facility I thought it would be - it is better. People stay there for a while to get housing ready. I hope we can work with other regional partners to provide the needed services.

Is there any tracking of long term follow up for people who just leave enhanced shelters? Say at 6 and 12 months.
  • Reply: There haven’t been funds available to do follow up of people who just leave. If we can secure resources it would be something we want to do.
Everything is centered around Seattle. We don’t want everything centralized around Seattle. In the 5 year plan, how are you working to establish an equitable distribution?
  • Reply: We created 7 subregions, created by Alexis and her team. We will have subregional planning strategies, both initial goals for the subregions and also longer term targets.
You talked about deep collaboration with communities. What can the Council do to help collaborate with your efforts? Should we look into move in rental caps like Kenmore? Should we advocate for more low income housing? Would it be helpful to advocate for another enhanced shelter in Shoreline?
  • Reply Mark Dones: Housing solves homelessness. If we had the affordable housing stock we need in this country, we would not have this problem. We need housing for the very low income. Not everyone needs permanent supportive housing. This is a very specific housing type with very specific service attachment that is for some people. Many people just need low income housing. But low income housing does not pencil without significant assistance from the government. The more that we can do through zoning, and waiving fees etc. to make it pencil in for people who are developing housing in that space, the better off we are. Again, we do not control any of the housing stuff.
I do think Shoreline needs at least one more enhanced shelter in order to hit the number we’re seeing in Shoreline. I think that will be important. Obviously the siting and facilities conversation is going to be really key. I would love to see it more like The Oaks than some of the other shelters that have existed in the past.

And we need to ensure that there is throughput - people are actually able to move from the shelter into the appropriate housing. That is going to be on KCRHA to really assist both from the technical assistance perspective as well as a resource outreach perspective.

It really matters for those who hold elected office to be vocal about how important this work is. Across the country there is a kind of sophisticated movement that is blaming everything that is bad in society on folks experiencing homelessness and is undermining housing first as a fundamental way forward. 

Elected leaders need to be able to step up and say no, this is what we need to do. That housing first does not create the problems you’re being told it does, and this is what it really is. It is only through the creation of the appropriate housing resources that any of this ends. It does not end in a more complex and more byzantine shelter system. 

In New York they have a billion dollar shelter system and no path out of it. They don’t have a way to get into housing because they hyper invested in shelters and that’s all they can do now. We don’t want to follow that path. Rather than becoming like NY in 15 years, I hope that the KCRHA is made up of 4 people who are maintaining a steady state of the right shelter resources and the right housing resources and are simply updating the planning. This is a little Pollyanna, but I think we need to start having this conversation, in public, with our various constituencies in order to drive towards the change we need to see.

I’m concerned that one of the requirements for a grant application through KCRHA is to have a City of Seattle business license. If you don’t have one from Seattle, are you ineligible? This is a regional issue and must be approached in a regional manner.
  • Reply: I would need to look into what that specifically applies to. We are working through this type of thing because some of the funds came from Seattle. Seattle and King County have to work towards equitable outcomes. We are committed to infrastructure development in helping to equip every community with the threshold of services they need to have to keep folks stabilized.
King County bought quite a few hotels. What type of services are those folks receiving? 
  • Reply: This is something we follow closely in terms of how they’re making progress because our fates are intertwined. This is considered permanent supportive housing so services include case management, support for recovery, behavioral health counseling and things like that.
Metrics are important. When do you think more will be available?
  • Reply: The 5-yr plan should be ready in September so they should be available then.
When I was on the continuum of care committee a few years ago, one of the thing we talked about from Sound City’s perspective is how to get all of these things? Nobody knew what a lot of what it was. 

Alexis was with Sound City at that time so I’m glad that we have somebody who understood the problem from a long time ago. What I’ve heard tonight is fantastic. I note that the funding is part of the problem - it’s coming mostly from King County and Seattle. Of course we all pay county taxes. Do we need to look at paying into it as a city in order to get more equitable treatment, or will it balance it out?
  • Reply: We would to love to move in a direction of what it would mean for North KingCo cities particularly to partner together in a potential pooling of funding and how it would work.
End of discussion.

Council retires into Executive Session

No further action taken following the Executive Session.

Meeting adjourned.


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