Uptown Alliance leadership workshopped a draft Good Neighbor Agreement for the Elliott Enhanced Shelter with community members on Tuesday.

King County’s Department of Community and Human Services is opening the modular shelter as part of a pilot program County Executive Dow Constantine announced last year.

Catholic Community Services will operate the 24/7 low-barrier shelter, which will serve 72 people experiencing homelessness on surplus county property at 531 Elliott Ave. W.

The county proposed entering a Good Neighbor Agreement with the Uptown Alliance when its shelter plans received pushback at a meeting in January. The Queen Anne Community Council also has a seat at the table, and president Ellen Monrad has attended subsequent meetings with county and CCS representatives.

The Good Neighbor Agreement is meant to address concerns about impacts the Elliott Enhanced Shelter may have in the neighborhood and provide channels for the two community groups to track operations and communicate with the county and CCS when issues arise.

A Good Neighbor Agreement was developed with the White Center Community Development Center before a family shelter opened in 2017.

Permitting issues with the City of Seattle has delayed the opening of the modular shelter, which had been planned for this summer. UA vice president Greg Easton, who has been negotiating the Good Neighbor Agreement with president Rick Hooper, said the shelter is now expected to open by the end of the year.

Easton highlighted key portions of the draft agreement during the Sept. 10 meeting. A work group would be formed under the agreement where all parties would meet quarterly in the first year of the shelter’s operation to assess its progress and address any issues that come up. Easton said this will provide an accountability measure during the life of the shelter.

The county expects to operate the shelter for five years, according to the draft GNA, and the work group would meet every six months following the first year.

Under the draft GNA, Catholic Community Services would provide a 24/7 hotline that could be called when an issue needs to be addressed immediately.

Catholic Community Services will take in shelter guests through King County’s Coordinated Entry for All system.

“Basically, what this means is this is not a walk-up facility,” Easton said, addressing concerns about lines of people outside the shelter.

The draft GNA would commit CCS to working with existing service providers and outreach teams to prioritize shelter use for people living unhoused in Uptown and Queen Anne. Hooper said he’s hopeful CCS will use staff at Seattle Center and the Queen Anne Food Bank to find shelter candidates.

CCS will regularly patrol the area around the Elliott Enhanced Shelter, Easton said, addressing any issues regarding trash, loitering or public safety. The shelter will be staffed 24/7.

He said shelter-use data is also expected to be provided during work group meetings, covering what services are being used, how long clients are staying, and the housing to which they are transitioning.

While UA’s goal in sharing the draft agreement  was to solicit feedback to strengthen commitments from King County and Catholic Community Services, many at the sparsely attended Sept. 10 meeting simply wanted to protest opening a modular shelter on Elliott Avenue.

Uptown resident Dwayne Richards said the shelter was being dumped on the community because the site is convenient, adding it shouldn’t be allowed in a high residential area. The shelter site is zoned commercial and abuts an industrial zone to the west.

A woman who lives near the site said the county opening a low-barrier shelter is illegal because it would constitute a safe injection site. Safe injection sites are offered in other countries as a harm-reduction tool focused on safe drug use and recovery support. They are not the same as low-barrier shelters, which already exist in Seattle.

Residents Yvonne and Jeff Hawk were upset that the Good Neighbor Agreement doesn’t include commitments for the people who will use the shelter.

“What’s their skin in the game?” Jeff Hawk said. “What are they giving back to the community?”

Yvonne Hawk said it isn’t much to ask that they participate in neighborhood upkeep.

“I have plenty of trash along Mercer Street that they can clean up,” she said.

Another resident said he was worried about weapons. He said people at an encampment in Lower Kinnear Park had weapons. Easton noted the encampment there had recently been cleared, but residents at the meeting said they expected the encampment to pop up again soon.

Easton said comments received during the Sept. 10 meeting would be provided to DCHS and CCS and that a Good Neighbor Agreement would hopefully be signed within a month.

The county plans to host an open house at the Elliott Enhanced Shelter for community members to tour the facility and learn more about the services that will be offered prior to the start of operations.