02 Oct Org Focus Friday: Lake City Partners
Since 2005, the Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness has been bringing together advocates, faith communities, agencies, neighbors, and people experiencing homelessness. Lake City Partners was established in 2015 by the Taskforce. Lake City Partners continues to build on the work of the Taskforce as it has been instrumental in forming a neighborhood network of care. Their mission is to end homelessness by providing shelter, respite care, work opportunities, and other services, so that people have increased opportunities for stabilization, recovery, and permanent housing. Lake City Partners works with a network of more than 600 volunteers including members of the faith community, social service organizations, homeless advocates, governmental agencies, and neighbors to provide shelter and housing navigation services to help bring stability to individuals facing homelessness.
Welcome to the County’s Newest 24/7 Emergency Shelter!
Recently, Lake City Partners and The City of Shoreline have announced plans to work in partnership with King County to turn the former Oaks Nursing Home at 16357 Aurora Avenue N in Shoreline into a 24/7 enhanced shelter for homeless individuals. The shelter will help address an unmet need in North King County for a 24/7 shelter!
“After many years of coordinating services for people experiencing homelessness in the north King County area, Lake City Partners is very pleased with the opportunity to expand shelter to a 24/7 year-round model,” said Melanie Neufeld, Director of Lake City Partners. “Our housing outreach, day center, and winter shelter programs have built relationships with people living without homes with the goal of ending homelessness one household at a time. Last year we supported 124 households from homelessness into permanent housing. The Aurora Oaks facility provides a real opportunity to create safety for people living outside during this pandemic and offers a setting to be solution-focused in the work of transitioning people into safe and affordable housing.”
When the Shoreline City Council adopted its 2020-2022 Council Goals, it made plans to open a 24/7 shelter to serve homeless single adults in north King County a priority. In early July, the owner of the Oaks Nursing Home notified the City that they were planning on selling the facility. Since this is an unanticipated opportunity, the City, in partnership with King County, have had to move quickly to secure the site. Its prior use as a nursing home makes the facility particularly well-suited to provide a safe housing option. Separate rooms are the best way to protect both residents and staff from spreading Coronavirus or other airborne illness. In addition, having a shelter with individual rooms provides more dignity to individuals as they work to stabilize their health and find permanent housing. The facility is already fully accessible and is equipped with basic fire safety requirements, including an alarm and sprinkler system. In addition, it is on a major arterial and close to a bus stop. Being presented with a facility that needs little work to make it shelter-ready is a unique opportunity to quickly provide a resource that has been missing in our community.
Enhanced Shelter is a particular type of Emergency Shelter that serves guests seven days a week around the clock. It recognizes that individuals need to have safe and stable shelter to effectively address the challenges preventing long-term housing stability. Access to the shelter will be based on an individual’s ability to maintain behaviors that are safe in a community setting. The Shelter will also provide case management, meals, hygiene, health services, and laundry. Drug and alcohol use will not be allowed in the facility. Local first responders; social service agencies in Shoreline and North King County; and outreach staff employed by the program will refer individuals to the facility.
Lake City Partners is the organization tasked with running the facility. Formed out of a neighborhood task force beginning in 2007, Lake City Partners has coordinated a winter shelter for the last five years. And since 2018, they have partnered with the City of Shoreline to provide homeless outreach services and last winter supported the operation of the severe weather shelter in Shoreline. King County is providing funding to purchase the property for use in the near-term as a 24/7 enhanced shelter, with a long-term plan to redevelop the property for permanent supportive housing. Operational funding for the enhanced shelter is expected from King County, pending approval of a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. The City of Shoreline will provide additional operational funding.
The Shoreline City Council’s decision to collaborate with King County is driven, in part, by the rising number of people experiencing homelessness in Shoreline and our neighboring North King County communities. There is a demonstrated need for more shelter space, both locally and regionally. The annual “Point-In-Time” count in 2020 found 260 people experiencing homelessness in north King County, with 56 of them unsheltered.
Message from Melanie Neufeld, Executive Director of Lake City Partners:
“We welcome you to our community of strong and compassionate people that sees a need and takes action, making the work to end homelessness possible and sustainable in Lake City and North King County. Thanks to all our new and returning volunteers who make such a difference in our ability to serve this community. On July 23, 2020, Lake City Partners celebrated its fifth anniversary as a non-profit! We have grown in so many ways in offering critical services of street outreach (served 292 people in 2019), day center (served 533 people in 2019), and winter shelter (served 249 people in 2019). As we engage many folks through these services, our main goal is to assist people in finding housing. Our greatest accomplishment of 2019 was supporting 124 households moving out of homelessness and into permanent housing with funding from Africatown, United Way, City of Seattle, Shoreline, Bothell and King County and private donors. We continue to pursue ways to keep people safe during this extraordinary time. With funding from the City of Shoreline, we have paid for motel rooms for our most vulnerable neighbors. The GLA Day Center remained open and restructured its program to ensure the safety of everyone using the space. Our biggest challenge has been to find an alternative way to do shelter and transition from a congregate shelter model to one that gives people appropriate privacy and separation. City of Shoreline has championed this project for us and we are so pleased with the progress we are making towards a 24/7 enhanced shelter that we hope to open by Dec. 31, 2020. Stay tuned!”
To learn more about their work and how you can get involved, visit: https://lakecitypartners.org/. Please consider donating to their cause or volunteering to support the launch of the new Emergency Shelter!