Downtown Emergency Service Center Programs
DESC provides over 1,000 units of supportive housing in 9 sites throughout Seattle. Residents benefit from 24-hour, seven day a week which include: state licensed mental health and chemical dependency treatment, on-site health care, daily meals and weekly outings to food banks, case management and payee services, medication monitoring, and weekly community building activities.
The ability to provide integrated clinical services to people with concurrent disabilities is the key to DESC's success in permanently ending homelessness among our community's most vulnerable citizens. These services include street outreach, comprehensive case management, chemical dependency treatment, mental health diagnosis and treatment, on-site health care, and employment support and counseling. At DESC, our network of clinical services allow counselors to work in coordination with case managers so that our services meet clients where they are and offer the support that leads to significant life changes.
Our three emergency shelters are the path to engagement for many of our clients. This is where they learn about DESC and our services for the first time. Our shelters provide beds and blankets, 2 meals a day, access to the Day Center, hygiene supplies and hot showers, and access to our comprehensive program of clinical care right on site. Clients are prioritized for the shelter beds based upon their level of vulnerability, so that those who are mentally ill, chemically dependent, elderly, medically compromised, physically or developmentally disabled are given preference, as they are the ones who are most likely to be harmed or victimized while living on the streets.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Every time we are able to move a vulnerable, chronically homeless person off of the streets and into supportive housing, it is a great success. In January 2013 we opened Aurora House, a state-of-the-art supportive housing facility that provided permanent homes for 87 men and women who were previously homeless and suffering from mental illness and other disabilities. Now that the fear and chaos of living on the streets has been eliminated from their lives, staff has begun to engage these 87 residents in robust treatment and clinical care that will help them to make the most of their housing opportunity and reclaim their lives.
Because supportive housing plays such a big part in ending homelessness for highly vulnerable men and women, our community’s shortage of low-income housing presents us with a true crisis. DESC currently owns and manages about 1,000 units of supportive housing, but over twice as many more units are still needed. Through support of individual donors and corporate and private foundations, and by utilizing low income housing tax credits, we will be able to continue to address this critical need and to develop more housing facilities like Aurora House.