Working in upper Third Avenue in the downtown Seattle core to address complex public safety, order and health issues.
In summer 2022, downtown retail businesses asked for help addressing public safety, order and health issues that challenged their ability to stay open, protect customers, and retain staff. All involved acknowledge these issues have complex origins, including income inequality, inadequate resources to care for people with profound mental illness, mass homelessness, the residual effects of pandemic closures, the fentanyl epidemic, and 3rd Avenue’s conversion to a transit-only corridor. While SPD could maintain a presence, problems in this area have outlasted enforcement-centered initiatives for decades.
Business, human services and law enforcement leaders coalesced around the concept of a community-based deescalation and safety team (We Deliver Care/WDC) that would both provide a “milieu management” presence, and would make referrals to specialty teams geared to substance use, mental health and homelessness response. PDA’s LEAD project management team provides backbone coordination and information-sharing support, and partners include WDC, REACH, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC)’s Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT), the City of Seattle’s HOPE outreach team, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, the Downtown Seattle Association Metropolitan Improvement District (MID), Seattle Police Department, and local retail businesses, some of whom have donated work space to assist the project. The Mayor’s Office contributed an initial year of funding for WDC’s field team and the data-sharing platform during this 2022-2023 demonstration project.