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King County Commits to Major Investment in Seattle Sobering Center

Summary

As part of King County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposed $600 million American Rescue Plan budget announced yesterday, the County would direct $3.8 million in COVID-19 federal funding to establish a new sobering center in Seattle.

Story

As part of King County Executive Dow Constantine’s proposed $600 million American Rescue Plan budget announced yesterday, the County would direct $3.8 million in COVID-19 federal funding to establish a new sobering center in Seattle.

King County Vice Chair Reagan Dunn commended Executive Constantine for his commitment to addressing the growing addiction and recovery needs of the county. The sobering center will serve as a safe place for people, especially individuals experiencing homelessness, to sleep off the acute effects of intoxication and connect to treatment, housing assistance and other supportive services.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen a tragic spike in fatal overdoses,” said Dunn. “It’s extremely alarming that we are losing more lives than ever to drugs and alcohol, as addiction and recovery services have been lost. This new sobering center would stabilize and expand a critical service so that fewer people who need help battling their substance abuse will continue to slip through the cracks.”

Data recently released by the King County Medical Examiner shows, not only a 24% increase in overdose-related deaths in 2020, but an even larger increase – of 118% – over the last decade. A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 40% of adults are experiencing adverse mental or behavioral health conditions during the pandemic, with 13% reporting increased drug and alcohol addiction to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19.

“Investments in the health of our community need to be a part of our recovery, and helping patients beat addiction is a key part of our efforts,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We know that when people get treatment, they can and do get better, and I’m excited about the community partnerships that will help stop overdoses and ensure everyone in King County has a chance at a healthy and fulfilling life.”

This funding would replace the downtown Seattle Dutch Shisler sobering and recovery center, which closed in June 2019, resulting in 80 beds lost. This is one of many treatment facilities that have closed across the region in recent years. Other recent closures include the Salvation Army’s inpatient facility in SODO in September 2019, which amounted to a loss of 120 inpatient beds, and the Thunderbird Treatment Center’s closure in February 2020, which was a loss of 65 inpatient beds.  

After deciding against a Georgetown location for the sobering center in late 2019, King County opened 45 replacement sobering beds at a temporary location in the Sodo area, where the homeless can sleep off intoxication and access onsite care and connections to community treatment

The permanent location for the new sobering center has yet to be identified. King County is looking at multiple siting options within the City of Seattle. 

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Email:
council@kingcounty.gov