Plan to house chronically homeless at Jefferson Terrace set aside
Funding needs exceed potential sources
SEATTLE—February 3, 2009—Plans to change the management of as many as 300 apartments at Jefferson Terrace to provide supportive housing for chronically homeless people have proven financially infeasible under current funding realities.
These plans are no longer being pursued by Seattle Housing Authority, according to Executive Director Tom Tierney. "While we were excited about the possibility of this new use for Jefferson Terrace, it has become obvious that funding is not available for a project of this scale."
"As we've examined the size of this project and have gained understanding of the funding available for homelessness issues, it has become clear that there is not enough to fund this large a project without denying funds to many worthy and important programs that are already in place," Tierney said recently.
"We would need about $12 million in capital funds to make the facility work for this new program—this would constitute more than a full year's funding under the City's Housing Levy. Similarly, our potential service partner, Downtown Emergency Service Center, would have needed some $2 to 3 million a year to fund a full-scale program serving homeless people at Jefferson Terrace, an amount greater than the entire annual service funding made available in January by combined funders through the Committee to End Homelessness."
At this point, Seattle Housing Authority has no plans to pursue further the idea of turning the entire building over to the Downtown Emergency Service Center for management.
"We remain committed to looking for ways that Seattle Housing can use its resources to serve chronically homeless people," said Tierney. "That commitment does not disappear as a result of the fact that this project is not currently viable."
Seattle Housing will continue to pursue the idea of providing one floor of Jefferson Terrace for respite care in cooperation with the health department and a consortium of area hospitals. The idea is to provide temporary housing for people who are leaving acute care medical facilities. Their stay at Jefferson Terrace would provide the opportunity for continued healing while they explore permanent housing options and receive follow-up medical care. This idea has been pursued at the same time as the DESC possibility.
Seattle Housing will also continue to look at development options for the Jefferson Terrace site. Currently the apartment building takes up only about half of the site, which extends downhill toward the I-5 freeway.
"We will explore whether some of this land could be used for new buildings under a variety of scenarios," said Tierney. "It may sound surprising, but a new building may be more financially feasible than the use of the existing building, because a new building would attract funding from sources beyond the local homelessness dollars that have been looked to for funding the earlier project."