City of Seattle, WA

07/02/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/01/2021 18:47

HSD Staff Respond to Record-Breaking Heatwave

In response to record-breaking heat over the last week, City of Seattle's Human Services Department (HSD) employees were in touch with our unsheltered and aging neighbors, worked to set up and staff cooling centers and shelters, assisted in water distribution and logistics, and prepared to serve residents in need and respond to requests from emergency operations.

On Friday, June 25, Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center was activated as a 24-hour cooling shelter and was open through the morning of Tuesday, June 29, to provide relief from the elements for those living unsheltered as well as any pets they brought with them. Meals were provided by OSL (formerly known as Operation Sack Lunch) and HSD worked with Public Health-Seattle & King County to provide guests with information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

By mid-afternoon on Monday, June 28, it was serving 48 individuals experiencing homelessness. Overnight, the shelter was at capacity with 80 guests; however, no one was turned away. The shelter also was able to accommodate those interested in using the facility for day use only.

Also on June 25, HSD opened a temporary day center in White Center at The Salvation Army Seattle White Center Community Center with guest capacity for 25 individuals, which was open daily through Tuesday, June 29.

In partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) and Lake City Partners Ending Homelessness, HSD supported extended hours over the weekend for a preexisting day center at the Lake City Community Center. This effort was aided by SPR procuring portable evaporative cooling units for the site. On Sunday, June 26, 41 people were served at this site.

HSD provider partner Seattle Indian Center extended the hours at their Drop-In Center to serve as a cooling center and opened on Saturday, June 26 and Sunday, June 27.

The HOPE Team activated their emergency response outreach on Friday, June 25, and System Navigators were in the field over the weekend through Monday, June 29, performing wellness checks, handing out water and other basic needs supplies, passing out flyers about the available cooling shelter and services, and offering transportation to cooling center locations. This work was done in coordination with Heath One and other City department partners. The HOPE Team facilitated the sharing of information with provider partners on the City's heat response efforts and available cooling center locations and resources for people living unsheltered.

From June 25 through June 28, the HOPE Team:

  • Had 192 engagements with individuals experiencing homelessness,
  • Handed out 619 bottles of water,
  • Provided 135 basic needs supplies,
  • Passed out 220 cooling shelter/day center information flyers,
  • Referred 10 individuals to City-funded shelters,
  • Provided 30 bus tickets to access cooling shelter/centers, and
  • Referred 20 individuals to the temporary cooling shelter, and drove three individuals directly there.

While our Homeless Strategy and Investment division staff were hard at work coordinating cooling and shelter spaces throughout the week leading up to the extreme heat emergency, staff in other divisions were focusing on other impacted communities.

Aging and Disability Services division staff and subcontractors made calls to 2,137 clients in the Case Management Program who were at greatest risk of adverse effects (e.g., living alone, health conditions that limited ability to stay cool or leave home). Staff were able to get 42 fans distributed to clients during that time, and more were distributed after the weekend.

Youth and Family Empowerment staff responded to a decision by our partners to close all outdoor Summer Food Service Program meal sites on Monday, June 28 due to heat. HSD's online Emergency Food Resources map was updated to note these closures. Meals prepared by the Seattle Public Schools kitchen were redirected to OSL which distributed them to Meals Partnership Coalition congregate feeding sites.

Many staff worked throughout the weekend, including some who were on call for the Emergency Operations Center, others who provided regular updates to the team there or in response to media questions. We are incredibly grateful for all of their efforts to keep our residents-sheltered and unsheltered-and communities safe in Seattle and King County.