Update on the SODO Services Hub—a joint partnership to bring more people inside  

Each night in King County, more than 7,500 people sleep outside. The longer a person goes without access to shelter, the higher the likelihood the person suffers adverse health conditions, including trauma, depression and chemical dependency.  

The time to act is now. The humanitarian crisis we face will stay this way and only worsen if we do nothing—this is unacceptable.   

This spring, King County acted in partnership with the City of Seattle and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA), and approved a five-year lease to continue and expand the SODO Services Hub.  

SODO Services Hub Explained  
In fall 2020, King County opened a 24/7 enhanced shelter in the SODO neighborhood to provide more opportunities for people experiencing homelessness to move indoors while limiting exposure and spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Salvation Army continues to operate this space. 

In March, King County announced a plan to create an expanded services hub in SODO at the site of this existing shelter. The SODO Services Hub will bring additional 24/7 shelter and behavioral health services to the current site. The King County Council approved the five-year lease in May, and planning for site development and services has begun.  

Absent this action, the 270-person shelter currently operating at the SODO Hub site would have closed without replacement by the end of this year, leaving hundreds of people without a place to go. The hub allows 270 people to remain inside, will create space for an anticipated 150 additional people, will provide 24/7 behavioral health services, and will facilitate resolution of the unsanctioned encampment that is currently on the site. 

The Future of SODO Services Hub  
The services made available in SODO will specialize in serving individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis, individuals with substance use disorder and residents of vehicles and recreational vehicles (RVs). 

King County anticipates a phased roll out of services, beginning with the relocation of the sobering center later this year. Enhanced shelter with behavioral health services, micro modular units, and a location to fix a small number of RVs while offering their owners housing services, will follow in late 2022 and early 2023 as site work is completed. 

A Crisis That Requires Bold Action  
Institutional racism, lack of affordable housing, and income inequality lead to homelessness for thousands of King County residents. Black and Indigenous members of our community are five times overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness. Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander members of our community are three times overrepresented. 

The City of Seattle, King County, and KCRHA are creating additional shelter, supportive services, and behavioral health services so people can come in from living outside, stabilize and move forward on the path to permanent housing. 

These services are needed in every part of the county. That is why King County and partners across the region have continued to accelerate and expand our response to the homelessness crisis over the last three years, during the pandemic, and for the long term. A few examples include:   

  • Leased and converted hotels into deintensification shelters in Renton, SeaTac, and Seattle’s South Lake Union and Lower Queen Anne neighborhoods, and funded another entity to lease a hotel in Bellevue. 
  • Purchased and converted hotels into supportive housing or shelters in Kirkland, Redmond, Renton, two in Federal Way, Auburn, Lower Queen Anne, North Seattle, Pioneer Square, and Capitol Hill.   
  • Created new shelters and day centers—all but one still operating—within King County’s own campus in Seattle, the Harborview Campus, SODO, Central District, Kirkland, and a former nursing home in Shoreline.  
  • Constructed or purchased isolation and quarantine facilities in Kent, Auburn, North Seattle, Issaquah and built and sited other COVID facilities in Bellevue, Shoreline, Auburn, and White Center. 

Outreach and Engagement  
King County, the City of Seattle, and KCRHA are continuing to engage with nearby community members to inform next steps of the project. We jointly connected with more than a dozen community groups, including Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Friends of Little Saigon, Chinese Information and Service Center, and Interim Community Development Association, before the lease was transmitted to the King County Council, and led two community meetings after the lease was approved. SODO Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the Chinatown International District (CID) Public Safety Council hosted the meetings. Translated materials in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Somali, and Amharic were made available. 

King County will provide updates and opportunities for community members in SODO and adjacent neighborhoods like the CID to provide feedback and input as we refine and finalize site plans.

If you have feedback, or would like to join a planning meeting, email: SODOHub@kingcounty.gov

We welcome and will continue to seek partnership from the surrounding community to ensure the project’s success, for residents receiving services and those who live and work nearby. Too many people sleep on our region’s streets every night. Our region’s crisis of unsheltered homelessness is solvable. Creating more shelter, more supportive housing, and acting with more urgency and partnership are critical parts of how we will bring thousands more people inside across the entire county. 

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