Jefferson Terrace considered as supportive housing model
New management approach could meet the needs of chronic homeless
SEATTLE—October 13, 2008—In line with both its mission and its participation in the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in King County, Seattle Housing Authority is looking into new ways to serve Seattle residents who are homeless. One possibility under consideration is re-programming Jefferson Terrace on First Hill to be used as a supportive housing facility for people exiting homelessness.
The Housing Authority has provided millions of dollars of support to nonprofit housing providers that serve people transitioning from homelessness. The Housing Authority has typically not used its own housing units for this population, because its buildings do not have the necessary services available. The Ten-Year Plan seeks to create units under a "housing first" model that places homeless people in permanent housing (rather than in shelter settings) with appropriate services to support their transition out of homelessness.
Jefferson Terrace, the largest of Seattle Housing Authority's Low Income Public Housing buildings, might be a good candidate for this use, because it contains mostly studio apartments, and is close to Harborview and to downtown service providers. If the building were changed to a model of supportive housing, chronically homeless people would benefit from a living environment where intensive services are provided 24 hours a day.
According to Tom Tierney, Seattle Housing Authority executive director, the agency has made "no decision about changing the way that Jefferson Terrace is operated... The Housing Authority is simply discussing this possibility with other agencies."
Tierney has assured current residents of this high-rise building that no one will be forced to move, but a clear plan for relocating current residents who might want to leave, and for protecting the safety of residents who choose to stay, is a necessary prerequisite to any changes in the use of the building. "No changes in Jefferson Terrace management will occur without action by the Board of Commissioners after input from current residents and a full opportunity for public comment."
Further, Tierney says agency staff will not bring a recommendation to the Board without a satisfactory plan for meeting the needs of current residents.
"Regardless of how management of the building might change, we are definitely planning to keep the building in the public housing program. There are no plans to sell it," Tierney said. "Our goal is to maintain Jefferson Terrace as a safe and comfortable environment for its current residents and for people who have need of a more service-enriched environment."
To facilitate resident input, Seattle Housing Authority is working with Jefferson Terrace residents to identify current residents’ concerns and issues. Sven Koehler, who has experience in working with residents in the homeWorks program, has been assigned by Seattle Housing Authority to work with residents in this effort.
According to Tierney, "The Seattle Housing Authority has long pursued a goal of providing housing to people who are homeless or at significant risk of becoming homeless. This may be an opportunity to provide housing appropriate for a population we have not been able to serve well in our public housing in the past. However, much difficult planning work and coordination is yet to be done before we can be confident that such a change might actually take place."
Seattle Housing Authority has hired Ellen Kissman, a former Seattle Housing employee who now works as a consultant, to work with existing and possible future partners to explore possibilities at the building.
For more information about what is being considered for Jefferson Terrace, please call Sven Koehler at 206-615-3536, or email him at email@example.com.