February 28 Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update / Public Safety and Human Services Committee Work Plan / Apply for Nutritious Food Funding from HSD – Due 4/11 / Program Outcomes from CoLEAD/JustCARE / Illegal Dumping Deterrent Camera Pilot Project / Sound Transit Board Update


February 28 Public Safety and Human Services Committee Update

At Tuesday’s committee meeting, the Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC) presented technical updates they’ve made that will allow for dispatch of civilian responders. Council authorized the implementation of a new protocol software for the CSCC in late 2021. The protocol software, also used by Seattle Fire Department’s dispatching team, will help to standardize follow-up questions and aid CSCC dispatchers in deciding which responders (police, fire, and/or behavioral health specialists) to send out in response to a 911 call. Currently, the software is gathering data for quality assurance and to inform future development of the CSCC, including its capacity for dual dispatch.

During this presentation, I previewed the recent successes of the CSCC. Throughout 2022, CSCC had over 10 position vacancies in any given month.  These vacancies meant that the CSCC had to rely on workers to work more than 1,000 hours (one month even 1,600 hours) of mandatory overtime each month for the first nine months of the year to adequately staff the call center.

As a result of these staffing shortages, in much of 2022, CSCC fell short of meeting the National Emergency Number Association standard that 90% of 9-1-1 calls being answered within 15 seconds and 95% being answered within 20 seconds. In June of 2022, less than 80% of calls were answered within 15 seconds.

Thankfully, through increased staffing capacity and a robust recruitment effort led by then-Director Lombard, CSCC was able to shorten its answering time.  With fewer position vacancies in January of 2023, CSCC needed less than 500 hours of overtime to be able to staff the call center and surpass the NENA 15-second standard with 95% of calls answered within 15 seconds.

On another programmatic note of importance, that we did not discuss in committee, CSCC has also done extensive work with SPD and SFD to update policies regarding caution notes in their Computer Aided Dispatch tools. Caution notes are “pieces of information linked to addresses that assist responding employees by making them aware of potential concerns related to the location.” You may remember, SPD, SFD, and CSCC came under heavy critique earlier in 2022 for the use of these caution notes. Before even the tragic events that led to these critiques, CSCC was working to formalize and standardize the caution notes process, building in multiple approval points and expiration timelines for these cautions.

These changes and more will help the CSCC continue to grow in its partnerships with our other public safety departments by providing adequate and timely information for first responders to be able to find and respond to calls safely and quickly.

The Human Services Department (HSD) briefed the committee about investments that the department will be making, using funds provided in the Council-adopted 2023 budget.  Funding will be made available via their 2023 NOFA or Notice of Funding Opportunities.  They shared more details and this presentation at this week’s Public Safety & Human Services committee meeting.  Here are their expected areas of investment; you can learn more at Funding Opportunities – Human Services | seattle.gov.

HSD has several open Requests for Proposals or Qualifications:

NOFAs are typically on a multi-year staggered cycle.  So, for instance, the 2023 NOFA doesn’t include many HSD investment areas.  That’s because those other investment areas are on a different NOFA cycle. HSD is already beginning to plan for the 2024 NOFA, which will likely result in investments in these investment areas:

  • Aging and Disability Services – Senior Centers
  • Mayor’s Office of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault – Prevention
  • Youth and Family Empowerment – Food and Meals

HSD may make additional dollars available during the year, outside of these specific investments.  Stay up to date on these announcements…

  • Subscribe to the Funding Opportunities listserv and Human Interests blog – click here and then click “Latest News” in the upper right

Public Safety and Human Services Committee Work Plan

The City Council passed a resolution to adopt 2023 work plans for each of the nine Council committees.

Here’s the Public Safety and Human Services Committee work plan. It covers the Seattle Police Department, Fire Department, Human Services Department, Municipal Court, City Attorney’s Office, Emergency Management, and Police Accountability, the Community Safety and Communications Center, as well as overlapping areas such as Alternatives to Current 911 Response, and First Responders.

The Council also adopted a resolution for Statements of Legislative Intent (SLI) included in the 2023 budget, for work Council has requested from city departments. Here are the SLIs for the Public Safety and Human Services committee.

Apply for Nutritious Food Funding from HSD – Due 4/11

HSD just announced new funding opportunities focused on providing nutritious food to Seattle residents.  $1,768,928 will be available through this Request for Qualifications (RFQ), due April 11, in the following service areas:

  • Nutritious food sourcing (formerly Bulk Buy);
  • Transportation of procured food; and
  • Network administrative support.

The initial awards will be made for the contract period of January 1, to December 31, 2024, with a possibility of contract renewal for an additional three years.   These awards will strengthen Seattle’s food systems currently led by the Seattle Food Committee (SFC) and Meals Partnership Coalition (MPC), two organizations that are already working tirelessly to pool resources, share strategies, collect data, and generate collective actions to improve food security and access to nutritious food for low-income families in Seattle.

Find more information and all application materials at Funding Opportunities – Human Services | seattle.gov.  If you have any questions or require assistance, reach out to Tan Mei Teo, Funding Process Coordinator, at tan-mei.teo@seattle.gov

Program Outcomes from CoLEAD/JustCARE

Many of you are familiar with the work of CoLEAD/JustCARE, a program rapidly developed by the Public Defenders Association (PDA) in the early days of the Covid pandemic to help folks living unsheltered, as courts and shelters shut down.  Council provided $5.5M to CoLEAD/JustCARE through 2022, and an additional $6.7M for ongoing operating costs for 2023.

Its work has been under evaluation by researchers at the University of Washington, who along with representatives of PDA (now known as Purpose Dignity Action) joined Wednesday’s Public Assets & Homelessness meeting to share program results with me and other committee members.  You can find full presentations and the UW report linked here.

Wednesday’s presentation highlighted the housing and services outcomes of JustCARE participants: in other words, of the 500+ people served, how many gained temporary or permanent housing, and what other needs were met?

I want to highlight one extraordinary outcome: before enrolling in JustCARE, only 41% of individuals had health insurance.  Afterward, 89% did.  That’s more than double the number and an especially meaningful outcome for a population that reports significant rates of mental health and substance use disorder needs.

The UW research team had previously found that “…JustCARE provided a meaningful temporary respite for participants and for community members alike, and that the well-being of many JustCARE participants improved while they were in JustCARE.”

However, early participants were less likely than later participants to find temporary or permanent housing.  After March 1, 2022, 71% of participants found permanent housing, a huge increase in success.  I dug into the reasons why, and learned that at that point, PDA formalized a partnership with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority that led to many JustCARE participants receiving emergency housing vouchers and priority placement into new permanent supportive housing buildings.

This aligns with what we know: that when safe, adequate housing is offered, folks living unsheltered are eager to move in.  The research found that, “…the vast majority of people living in the encampments in which JustCARE works accept temporary lodging with JustCARE providers (and that JustCARE is able to offer this resource to almost everyone encountered).”

Illegal Dumping Deterrent Camera Pilot Project

Seattle Public Utilities is initiating an Illegal Dumping Deterrent Camera Pilot Project.

The pilot project is for a camera on the 7100 block of Detroit Avenue SW, in the Highland Park neighborhood, just off SW Marginal Way.  This location was selected in part due to the seriousness of the illegal dumping problem there and the relatively low volume of foot traffic. Over 5,000 tires, car parts and household garbage have been removed from this area.

The camera is solar-powered and motion activated and includes audio and flash warnings to discourage any potential illegal dumper. It will store pictures that can be downloaded from the camera if a violation has been captured.

Other cities using a camera for monitoring illegal dumping include Los Angeles, Chicago, San Franciso, and Spokane.

SPU’s RSJ analysis noted the potential for unfairly targeting underserved BIPOC communities and businesses; the SPU response says the “camera will be used as a tool to protect our underserved communities from intentional illegal dumpers who are targeting these areas.”

Spending on removing illegal dumping from the public right of way has increased in recent years, and service requests have been higher during the last four years, with the highest number during 2022:

SPU worked with Seattle IT’s Privacy Team on the privacy issues around the pilot and completed a Privacy Impact Assessment late last year.

The 4th quarter surveillance technology determination report coordinated by Seattle IT stated that the project meets the definition of surveillance technology but falls under an exclusion criterion, specifically, “Technology that is used to collect data where individuals were presented with a clear and conspicuous opt-out notice.”

Sound Transit Board Update

The Sound Transit Board met last week on February 23rd.

The meeting included an update on community feedback to the Further Studies that examine potential changes to the preferred alternative. Here’s a link to the presentation, most of which covers areas outside of West Seattle.

Here are links to the slides for West Seattle Community Feeback:

Alaska Junction:

Avalon station:

Delridge station:

In addition, at the end of the presentation, Sound Transit included an End to End Scenario that includes shifting the Delridge station at Andover, the alignment to the south, and a 42nd Street entrance in the Alaska Junction:

On March 9, the System Expansion Committee will make a recommendation the Board will consider two weeks later.

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