King County prepares to relocate Sobering Center/Emergency Services Patrol in 2019
Sobering Center Update 6/28/19
The Sobering Support Center serves as a safe place for people to sleep off the acute effects of intoxication and connect to treatment services, housing assistance and other supports. The Sobering Center has been part of the community at its current location for more than 20 years. The Sobering Center is open 24/7 and serves up to 60 adults at a time. Also operating onsite is the King County Emergency Services Patrol, providing transport for individuals to and from the Sobering Center from locations in and around the downtown Seattle area, and the REACH homeless outreach team that works to engage persons experiencing homelessness and connect them to treatment and housing.
Why are the services moving?
The building where the Sobering Center is currently located has been sold and the center must move to a new location. A condition of the building sale required the building owner, Community Psychiatric Clinic (CPC) to purchase and provide a new location for the Sobering Center. CPC has purchased a new building in Georgetown to house the Sobering Center, the Emergency Services Patrol and the REACH homeless outreach team. The site will also house a clinic that will provide both health and behavioral health services.
Who is involved?
King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD) contracts for sobering services to strengthen the availability, quality and coordination of crisis services for homeless persons with chronic substance use disorders. Pioneer Human Services (PHS) provides these sobering and outpatient treatment service. Community Psychiatric Clinic will provide the behavioral health services onsite and the health clinic will be operated by Harborview Medical Center.
How can I learn more?
King County has participated in two community meetings with the Georgetown Community as well as smaller meetings in Georgetown to discuss questions or concerns with residents and business owners.
Community Meeting: No meetings scheduled at this time.
Frequently Asked Questions
These questions were updated 3/22.
The building where the Sobering Center is currently located in South Lake Union has been sold. King County and the City of Seattle have a duty to maintain these important services. Trammel Crow is leasing the current site back to CPC from January 2019 to June 2019 and has made it clear that there is no room for flexibility beyond that.
The Housing & Community Developer consultant on this project from Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington indicates that Community Psychiatric Clinic, their development consultant, and their real estate broker searched for available commercial buildings that would be appropriate for the Sobering Center close to or within the catchment area for the Emergency Services Patrol. Community Psychiatric Clinic examined the feasibility of several sites that were not selected due to issues like budget, space limitations, or development timelines.
The relocation is moving forward with solicitation and careful consideration of community feedback. Planning around the medical clinic, sobering center, outreach and transport services and behavioral health services are all currently under discussion in meetings with community members large and small. A good neighbor agreement and/or community advisory committee are all being discussed.
It is hard to respond to a “best” location and what that would entail. This location is within the necessary catchment area, is affordable and has sufficient space to meet the needs of the various service partners that will be located on the site. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues that need to be addressed. A best or perfect site probably does not exist, but the County will do our best to address community concerns and make the services available that keep people alive and that may also have a positive impact on the Georgetown community.
Correct. There is no expectation of serving 20,000 people at a time. The sobering portion can serve a maximum of 60 individuals at a time. The medical clinic will provide healthcare for the homeless and will have three exam rooms and one procedure room to serve individuals as needed. The behavioral health clinic will have five consultation rooms and two group rooms to provide behavioral health treatment as needed.
The City of Shoreline offered a piece of land owned by Shoreline for development as housing for people with behavioral health needs exiting homelessness. CPC is partnering with the City to develop 80-100 housing units on the city’s property and King County is also involved in the project as a test of the durability and cost effectiveness of modular construction for affordable housing development.
As the building owner, Community Psychiatric Clinic is responsible for working through the permitting process with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI). The planned use is consistent with the zoning, and the final determination will be with SDCI.
DCHS has committed to working with Metro and the Georgetown community on bus transportation. More discussions will follow with Georgetown community members nad representatives from Metro. The building will monitor and collect trash regularly. The County will meet and discuss security needs more with the community. All Sobering Center staff are trained in de-escalation techniques and work hard to minimize disruptions on site. King County is committed to being a good neighbor. This is an area where King County will seek additional community input and can change or adjust plans or approaches in partnership with the community. The Emergency Service Patrol will add a visible presence to the community.
The City of Seattle and King County jointly fund this suite of life-saving services.
By March 1, can you reach out to decision makers and communicate that Georgetown is not a smart location and respond to the Georgetown Community Council and give them the contacts?
Yes – completed by Leo Flor.
The County generally contracts services out to the community.
DCHS believes sobering and medical services are vital to assist people in need, promotes recovery and reduce cost in the community. This is in line with the mission of King County and DCHS.
Will DCHS inform the participating bodies in the memorandum of agreement (i.e., Dept. of Commerce, CPC, leadership in King County) by Friday, March 1 that Georgetown feels this way? Will DCHS report back to the Georgetown Community Council on Friday March, 1 that the identified parties have been notified?
Yes – completed by Leo Flor on March 1, 2019
One of the things that makes the current facility successful is its close proximity to a multitude of social services such as hospitals, case management, transit, housing, temporary shelters, job training. How can this location be successful when Georgetown has none of these services?
Why do you believe this is the right place for this service? Georgetown is not a calm spot (planes, bars, parties)?
Were transportation options or lack of same considered? Georgetown recently lost bus service. How will lack of transportation options be mitigated?
The ESP van provides transport to and from the center for clients. Bus tickets for Metro will be available. There are other possibilities that can and will be explored with King County Metro to try to mitigate transportation impact and hopefully improve the transportation outlook for the neighborhood. DCHS Director Leo Flor committed to engaging with Metro to discuss the transportation needs in the community.
Some sense that King County’s presence is insincere, and that the County is ‘checking the box for community engagement’.
Government did not keep their promises with regard to Tiny House Village so we don’t trust King County to keep their promises either.
Georgetown Community believes that this is not the ideal location because of a lack of services, lack of transportation options, current levels of criminal activity, etc.
King County is happy to arrange for community members to tour the current Sobering Center in South Lake Union to get a feel for how the facility is set up and how it operates. In addition, King County will set up an Open House type of event at the current Sobering Center and invite Georgetown community members to tour. Once that is scheduled, the day and time will be communicated to the Georgetown community.
As to touring the new building, CPC has a tight timeline for building renovations. King County and CPC work with that construction schedule to try to carve out time for a representative group to tour inside. Working with the construction leads will be key for safety. We will also hope to be able to share the renovation plans for the site at an upcoming community meeting.
Georgetown community members are concerned that the level of crime is going to increase; concerns about the center being located in a neighborhood with children and families.
This is the reality of Georgetown. There are 25 new campers on the I-5 on ramp. There are 25 new individuals living in tents on one of the freeway onramps as of last week. More homeless people are moving down toward Georgetown as it is.
We already have crime in Georgetown, with a 47% increase in property crime in the last two years. How will this impact our crime rate?
What is being planned to mitigate the growing homeless population in Georgetown? How might the Sobering Center have an impact on the already existing homeless population in Georgetown?
What are the plans to transport people out of the Sobering Center so as to not increase the homeless population of Georgetown?
How many users of the Sobering Center are repeat users? What are the rates of success (i.e., moving on to support services)?
- 1567 unduplicated individuals accessed the sobering center
- 754 accessed the sobering center one time
- 495 accessed the sobering center 2 to 10 times
- 318 accessed the sobering center more than 10 times
Given the science of addictions, it is not surprising to see that there is a certain percentage of repeat visitors to the sobering center. There is a value for individuals to return to the sobering center as it provides linkage to other services as needed.
Services that will be operated within the facility include:
- 24/7 Sobering Center – provided by Pioneer Human Services
- REACH Outreach – provided by Evergreen Treatment Services
- 24/7 Emergency Service Patrol – provided by King County
- Behavioral Health Services – provided by Community Psychiatric Clinic
Other services like transportation and police presence are outside of King County’s direct control, however, King County is committed to working with these partners to address issues and concerns in the community.
How will the ESP or participating partners realistically transport people to and from neighborhoods throughout the city?
Factors to consider are people staying on site to receive medical and behavioral health services after their sobering stay is completed. The sobering contractor will also stage discharge times to make best use of ESP. Metro Bus Tickets for single use rides will also be available.
Sobering Center Staff:
- Emergency Medical Technicians – licensed by WA State to provide emergent care to individuals.
- Case Manager - trained in Motivational Interviewing and how to access the broader social service system to gain supports for individuals in need. This individual is also credentialed by WA Department of Health as a Chemical Dependency Professional.
Emergency Service Patrol Drivers
- Trained to give assistance in the streets and in other public places to persons who are intoxicated. All drivers are trained in first aid and are able to provide assistance in emergency situations. Drivers may transport intoxicated persons to community locations.
- Qualified Medical Personnel
Behavioral Health Services
- Mental Health Professionals
- Chemical Dependency Professionals
A detox center provides effective detoxification programs and methods to assist those who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction in finding the strength to make their way through the withdrawal symptoms.
A sobering center provides a safe environment for publicly intoxicated individuals to sober up and, when appropriate, initiate recovery. It aims to enhance public health and public safety by providing an alternative to the streets, emergency rooms and jail.
This is a sobering center. Detox tends to involve a longer stay and uses medical staff and medications.