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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We are now a little more than halfway through the first quarter of 2021. While we look forward to implementing our 2021 work plan focused on recovery, vaccination, and rebuilding; it is also a time to take stock of some of the work we did together during the difficult year of 2020. The Seattle City Council and my office have both completed annual reports for your review. I can also give an update on a critical public safety investment in Downtown and Pioneer Square, new legislation passed out of my committee to expedite permanent supportive housing construction, and an update on the Seattle Fire Department's Health Two deployment.

Annual Reports

2020 was a difficult year defined by an omnipresent virus, a hostile federal administration, and a reckoning over the accountability of police and their role in public safety. While we enter a 2021 with strong new federal partnerships, vaccines in the field with more on the way, new community investments on the horizon for public safety, and an economy gradually re-opening; we can take a moment to reflect on some of the things my office moved forward in the last year.

Working closely with small business, labor partners, and community leaders we moved forward several initiatives on infrastructure, public safety, workers' rights, and economic development. You can check out our interactive annual report here. You can also check out the general Seattle City Council annual report for 2020 at this link.
View My Annual Report

JustCare

As someone who walks through the Downtown neighborhood on an almost daily basis, I can personally attest to the large number of our neighbors living unsheltered on our streets. De-intensification of our shelter system, an obliteration of mental health facilitiesreduced capacity of King County Jail, and a shuttering of municipal and county courts has all resulted in a dramatic increase in chronic homelessness Downtown. But it is not all doom and gloom because one practice has emerged and shown results. JustCare.

While COVID has reduced capacity to all the above mentioned systems it has created immense slack in our hotel market. With nobody traveling for business or vacation hotels are down considerably and thousands of rooms sit vacant. JustCare, a consortium of service providers, business organizations, and local governments, is committed to getting people off the street and in those hotels with a staffing model designed to meet high-barrier needs. Nearly two-thirds of JustCare clients suffer from meth addiction, and nearly three-fourths have an untreated mental health condition. Of the 194 people JustCare has made contact with only 4 have refused services. 124 people are currently safely ensconced in hotels with the help and support they need, and not in a tent in a public park or the doorway of a small business. With appropriate support, JustCare could scale its caseload to nearly 300.      

I will be introducing legislation soon to adequately support JustCare to continue this critical work. This initiative is strongly supported by business advocates like the Downtown Seattle Association and the Alliance for Pioneer Square, as well as social justice innovators like the Public Defender Association and Community Passageways, and service providers like Chief Seattle Club. By coming together we can meet the challenges of the system limitations listed above by adapting to new realities and forging new coalitions. Every week when I talk to business owners in the Downtown and Pioneer Square neighborhoods they make it clear to me that a big thing that has achieved visible results is JustCare. Together, we can scale this response.

You can read more about JustCare in this coverage from the Seattle Times and Crosscut. You can also see below a video of my recent comments about this important program.
Watch my remarks on JustCare

Health Two

As longtime readers of my updates may know, I am a huge supporter of the Seattle Fire Department's Health One program. For those who are unfamiliar, Health One pairs firefighters with mental health clinicians to respond to people in crisis and provide assistance. For the past few years the program has operated as a pilot program with a single vehicle in the Pioneer Square and Downtown neighborhoods. Now, the successful program is branching out with two additional vehicles, Health Two and Health Three, expected to deploy this year.

At the Public Safety Committee meeting on February 23rd, Chief Scoggins announced that Health Two will be deployed out of Belltown's Fire Station 2 by April of this year. The service area will include the triangle of Belltown, Ballard, and the University District, with all points in-between. Health Two will be a great first response asset for Belltown, Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Interbay. I look forward to learning more as we near the date of deployment.    

As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions.
Warmly,
Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis
Seattle City Council // District 7
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