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Nonprofit requests $2.6M to continue homeless aid on Seattle’s infamous corridor

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(The Center Square) – A nonprofit organization working to address Seattle’s notorious street’s homelessness and drug problem is requesting over $2 million in funding to continue its work on the four-block corridor next year.

We Deliver Care is a safety company founded in 2020 that focuses on nonviolent de-escalation, through safety ambassadors in the community as an alternative to police. It was contracted to support the efforts of the city, the Downtown Seattle Association and the King County Regional Homeless Authority to restore downtown Seattle’s community through the Third Avenue Project (TAP).

There is a prominent presence of homelessness, crime, and public drug use on 3rd Avenue between Stewart and University Street in Seattle’s Downtown area.

Locals even refer to the McDonald’s location within the corridor as “McStabby’s,” for the frequent crime that occurs nearby.

According to a We Deliver Care presentation, ambassadors encountered 1,487 through TAP between January 2023 and May 2024. The company successfully referred 116 people living on 3rd Avenue to agencies that provide shelter and housing, which represents 8% of the people the company’s “community safety ambassadors” encountered on the corridor.

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales asked why the rate of encountered people accepting shelter was so low. We Deliver Care COO Tabatha Davis blamed the housing availability issue in the Seattle area.

“There’s a shortage of housing so that’s really why that number is low,” Davis said in the House and Human Services Committee meeting on Wednesday.

Davis added that ambassadors can make referrals for the homeless people, but when shelter and supportive housing providers are booked, the referred people join a waitlist for an extended period of time.

Out of the 116 people referred to shelter providers, 36 have been moved into permanent housing through the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s Coordinated Entry process and 15 from CoLEAD transitional housing.

We Deliver Care ambassadors also reported 151 overdose reversals by administering naloxone in that same time span.

Seattle signed a contract with We Deliver Care for $2.4 million in November 2022 with funding going to the end of 2023. The city budgeted an additional $1.9 million to continue the project for the first nine months of 2024.

In total, $4.3 million was funded to the company for approximately 31 months of homeless services in which only 51 people successfully went from being homeless to having permanent housing so far due to limited housing capacity.

We Deliver Care now requests $2.64 million in dedicated funding for the Third Avenue Project as part of next year’s budget.

The company is also requesting $640,000 for the last three months of the year to continue its work on the project through the rest of 2023.

Committee members praised We Deliver Care for the service being provided to residents and businesses on the 3rd Avenue corridor. No decisions or affirmation of the requested funding were made during the Wednesday meeting.

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