Lifelines Newsletter - November 2020

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A Note from Acting Director Johnson - Nov 2020

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Greetings—I hope this message finds you healthy and well. It is important we pause and give thanks as we approach the end of the most challenging and unpredictable year we can remember. Thanksgiving offers us space to thank our families, colleagues, and our incredible human services providers—but this year feels a lot different. The people we serve have faced more challenges than ever before. The human service safety net has been stretched further than we thought possible. And many people won’t be able to enjoy time with family over Thanksgiving and the holidays because of the pandemic.

At the same time, many of Seattle’s human services partners have met this challenge and have filled a critical need throughout the year. The impacts of COVID-19 are not going away anytime soon. I want to offer my deep appreciation for the incredible work you do to serve Seattle’s most vulnerable communities. I also want to extend my thanks to the hard-working staff of the Seattle Human Services Department. Many have been working non-stop since COVID-19 hit the region last spring. Thank you!

As many of you know, City of Seattle is approaching the end of its 2021 budget deliberations. City Council has been reviewing Mayor Durkan’s proposal and will be unveiling the final version in the weeks to come. Council is scheduled to vote on the 2021 budget package on November 23rd, and our team will be in touch with contracted community-based providers following that vote.

An exciting part of next year’s budget is how the City invests in our communities. All are invited to join HSD’s community forum series on its new Safe and Thriving Communities Division. This new division will respond to community requests for the City of Seattle to shift funding away from traditional police response and reinvest in community building efforts using nearly $22 million in annual investments. Through the community forums, you will learn about options to direct the work of the new division. Namely, design a hiring process for the new division director and a community structure that shares responsibility for decisions and outcomes. Learn more below and on our Human Interests blog.

In closing, I also want to highlight the recent recognition given to four dedicated HSD employees. The Seattle Management Association (SMA) is an employee affinity group at the City, and “the leading professional public sector organization promoting excellence and integrity in City of Seattle leadership.” Volunteer board members support their fellow City of Seattle employees by planning opportunities for professional development, networking, and recognition. Their annual SMA Excellence in Leadership Awards highlight the exceptional work of public employees as recognized by their fellow co-workers. I am pleased to share that this year HSD staff were selected for three separate awards!

First, Flor Alarcon-Avendano was selected for an individual award in the category of Race and Social Justice. Flor was nominated four times in two different categories. 

Second, Deborah Witmer was selected as part of the City of Seattle COVID-19 Testing Site Team in the category of Planning and Project Management.

Finally, the Duwamish Valley Action Team (DAT) were selected as part of the Duwamish Valley Program Team recognized in the category of Environmental Stewardship. Maria Langlais and Natalie Thomson are members of the DAT.

SMA told me they received over 70 nominations this year and their amazing leadership stood out. Please join me in applauding their hard work and the work that all our public employees do every day here in Seattle.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones, Jason

Be Ready. Be Hydrated.

In November 2019, HSD partnered with The Vida Agency (TVA) to develop a bi-lingual, community informed and designed public awareness and counter-marketing campaign funded by the City of Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax. Centered on Black, Latinx, and indigenous youth and young adults, the campaign focuses on highlighting the predatory practices of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) sellers, offering healthy alternatives to SSBs, and promoting a positive message. The resulting campaign, “Be Ready. Be Hydrated.” launched in July 2020.

Visit the Campaign Website

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Looking for COVID-19 resources?

This page contains information and web links for City of Seattle, King County, Washington State, federal, and community programs and services that help residents significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. All Seattle residents regardless of immigration status are eligible for City of Seattle programs and services unless noted otherwise.

COVID-19 Resources

2020 Legacy of Love - November 14

Legacy of Love: Virtual African American Caregivers Forum

November is National Caregivers Month—when we recognize and appreciate caregivers for all they do to ensure the welfare of their loved ones who need special care. This year’s theme—Caregiving in Crisis—addresses the new realities family caregivers face during uncertain times. Caregivers manage health emergencies, juggle priorities, and suffer isolation—and did all that even before COVID. The pandemic brings even more challenges as family caregivers handle caregiving in crisis.

This year’s Legacy of Love African American Caregiver Forum is on Saturday, November 14, from 12 noon to 2 p.m. The forum is an annual event intended to give participants time to revive, refresh, and connect with other family caregivers. Past forums have been day-long events but this year, due to the pandemic, the two-hour forum will be held virtually.

Keynote speaker George Dicks, a Geriatrics Mental Health Practitioner at Harborview Medical Center, will address “Caregiver Hope, Love, and Resiliency.” The second hour will include a panel of three family caregivers—Lynda Greene, Minister Shirley Poston, and Charles Williams—who will discuss “Caregivers: Loving from the Front Line During a Pandemic.”

There is no charge to participate in the forum; however, pre-registration is recommended and is now open at Please help spread the word, especially to caregivers in need of uplifting support.

On AgeWise King County:Stories from HSD Aging and Disability Services Professionals

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“I don’t know what I would do without this help.” This is something that Kristine Broome hears frequently. Kristine is a longtime caregiver support specialist in Seattle Human Services’ Aging and Disability Services division.

“My client, Sandra, often says this when I check in with her regarding the services the Family Caregiver Support Program is providing for her,” continues Kristine. “She is currently receiving eight hours a week of respite care with a contracted home care agency and caregiver counseling through Sound Generations. Bathing assistance is included in the respite care Sandra’s mother receives.” Click here to learn more about caregiver support services Sandra and others receive in Seattle-King County.

“ADS care coordinators are skilled in motivational interviewing, person-centered care planning, health promotion, transitional care follow-up, and individual and family support, and highly knowledgeable of social services available in the local community,” writes Health Home program supervisor Heather Dagg. “We believe these services are vital for optimal physical and cognitive health for our clients.” Click here to learn more about our ADS division’s Health Home program.

“For more than 20 years, Aging and Disability Services (ADS)—a division of the Seattle Human Services Department designated as the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for Seattle-King County—has partnered with Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to provide on-site AAA case management services for residents of 52 high-rise and “senior” buildings,” writes SHA Case Management team supervisor Sean Walsh. Click here to learn how this long-standing partnership made a difference when COVID testing was needed.  

If you haven’t visited the site previously, AgeWise King County is a monthly e-zine published by the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. Click here to subscribe for free.

On Public Health Insider: Health Insurance Feels More Important Than Ever, and Public Health Navigators Can Help

King County’s health insurance Navigators are once again offering personal help with the enrollment process through Washington Healthplanfinder — with special adaptations to protect against COVID-19.

The Access & Outreach team at Public Health—Seattle & King County has designed an innovative new set of options for the Open Enrollment period that started on Nov. 1, 2020. These new strategies protect both the Navigators and King County residents.

Click here to learn about some of your options online, by telephone, in-person, and even by drive-through to get help with health insurance in King County.

On the Homelessness Response blog: Human Services Department prepares winter weather emergency response plan

Emergency Winter Shelter

As we enter this year’s winter season, the City of Seattle is in the midst of multiple crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic downturn. Maintaining COVID-19 health recommendations as part of the City and King County’s shelter system remains a challenge facing our homelessness response system.

In the event of a major snowstorm or cold weather event, the City is capable of activating hundreds of short-term, temporary emergency shelter beds across Seattle for people experiencing homelessness. The City’s winter emergency response is coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which partners with City departments like HSD to make preparations and ensure City programs and services are maintained during disruptive weather events.

As in years past, HSD has identified shelter spaces for an emergency response based on different scenarios, including a short-term weather event or a longer-term weather event. A short-term winter weather emergency response is activated when there is a snow accumulation in excess of 1-inch and/or forecasted temperatures of 25 degrees or below for multiple days. A long-term response is activated when the weather conditions significantly impact people living homeless, including snow accumulation of over 6-inches, 25 degrees or below for multiple days and/or a State of Emergency declaration. Both event scenarios may include other health and safety considerations such as a wind advisory or ice.

Click here to learn more about our emergency response plan, such as some of the shelter spaces which have been identified and how we responded to past winter weather events.

On the Human Interests blog: Community is invited to help shape the future of the Safe & Thriving Communities Division

All are invited to join one of the forums this week on our new Safe and Thriving Communities Division. This new division will respond to community requests for the City of Seattle to shift funding away from traditional police response, and reinvest in community building efforts using nearly $22 million in annual investments. Through the community forums, you will learn about options to direct the work of the new division. Namely, design a hiring process for the new division director and a community structure that shares responsibility for decisions and outcomes.

Why you – Community is the core of this work. Establishing the division’s structure, function, and leadership cannot happen successfully without community making critical decisions in partnership with HSD. Your leadership now and in the years ahead will allow HSD to fund community support so that all people living in Seattle are free from violence.

Why now – 2020 elevated a number of long unaddressed needs from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. This stems from the strong community advocacy efforts that unfolded over time and this summer. Community advocacy originally created HSD and we are well positioned to work with community members in supporting safety in Seattle and addressing racial inequities.

We heard the desire to invest in BIPOC communities, social services, and alternatives to policing. The new Safe and Thriving Communities Division consolidates HSD’s existing funding for community safety and prepares HSD to administer new programs and funding opportunities. We need your help to do that.

Click here to read more about how YOU fit in to the planning, what’s next, and how you can RSVP to join one of the five forums in November to share your input.

HSD Funding Opportunity Updates

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2020 Shelter Surge & 2020 Street to Housing ESG-CV Rapid Rehousing RFQs

HSD's Homeless Strategy & Investment (HSI) Division is pleased to announce the availability of two Request for Qualification (RFQ) processes:

1) The 2020 Shelter Surge RFQ will identify eligible homeless services agencies to operate and provide supportive services at approximately 425 new single adult emergency shelter spaces. Beginning in December 2020, HSD expects to have access to approximately 300 temporary shelter units located at leased hotel properties and 125 units of new enhanced shelter spaces. Through this RFQ process HSD is also identifying agencies to support the possible expansion of the tiny house village program in FY 2021.

2) The 2020 Street to Housing ESG-CV Rapid Rehousing RFQ will select one service provider to provide program enrollment and support to participants at the single adult shelter surge hotel buildings. This intentional linkage of shelter to Rapid Rehousing programming is designed to produce faster and more successful exits to permanent housing. The onsite provider will focus on identifying housing options, move-in and rental assistance, and case management services and supports. HSD estimates that through an expedited process approximately 231 households will be enrolled into Emergency Solutions Grant - Coronavirus (ESG-CV) funded Rapid Rehousing program.

Visit the joint funding process web page for more information on these two RFQs and to download materials. Please contact Lisa Gustaveson, Strategic Advisor at or (206) 482-4573 with any questions.

HSD Employment Opportunities

Job Title


Closing Date

HR Senior Supervisor

$85,628.88 - $128,432.88 Annually



HSD logo in color with tagline: Equity, Support & Community

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) connects people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work, and take part in strong, healthy communities.

HSD is one of the largest contributors to Seattle's safety net, investing over $170 million in contracts to nearly 150 community-based organizations and programs that support Seattle neighbors and communities each year. About 400 staff further the department’s role as a funder, convener, and direct service provider to achieve positive results. HSD invests in innovative strategies and effective programs and services that promote racial equity, support basic needs in our communities, and foster connection through collaborative approaches to address six key impact areas:

Preparing Youth for Success

Supporting Affordability and Livability

Addressing Homelessness

Promoting Public Health 

Supporting Safe Communities

Promoting Healthy Aging