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County Council takes first action in response to homeless emergency

Summary

Unanimous approval for expanding capacity for winter shelter

Story

Expressing support for tripling the number of beds available in the winter shelter operated by King County is an immediate step in responding to the Local Proclamation of Emergency on homelessness. The Metropolitan King County Council today gave its unanimous support to expanding the winter shelter to accommodate up to 150 beds a night.

“We are in a crisis of homelessness with immediate action required,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, who joined Constantine and Murray at the announcement of the emergency declaration. “Today’s motion positions us to significantly increase needed shelter and takes the first step in providing relief as winter sets in.”

“I’m glad we found a way to increase shelter for men and women during the harsh winter months,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “We will continue to seek long-term solutions to address the growing need of families dealing with homelessness all over King County.”

In response to the death of 66 people who were living on the streets, and with winter approaching, County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared emergencies and outlined new investments to respond to the growing crisis of people experiencing homelessness in King County and Seattle.

For over two decades, King County has operated a winter shelter, currently located in the King County Administration Building in downtown Seattle, providing space for 50 beds. In early 2015, a funding partnership with the city of Seattle allowed the county to double the capacity of the shelter for the remainder of winter 2014-2015.

Today’s motion, which is dependent on the availability of funding to support expanded shelter capacity, expresses the Council’s support to find the space needed at a county-owned facility or facilities to accommodate the increased capacity. It also encourages the City of Seattle to continue its financial partnership with King County to support the increased capacity.
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