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Life Lines
 News about programs and people from the 
 Seattle Human Services Department
Caregiver PhotoAs Mayor Mike McGinn takes office, I am glad to be back in the human services realm as Acting Director of the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD). You may know that I worked in various capacities in the department for several years, and previously, I was proud to represent the 37th district in the State Legislature. As the City department entrusted to providing human services to our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, HSD has a daunting role to play, and in this economic downturn, it is more critical than ever. Together with our community partners, it is imperative that we continue to be a voice for those who are needy, that we shepherd our resources wisely, and that we all share in the responsibility to take care of others.


I look forward to this challenge over the next few months, and welcome your comments or questions. I can be reached at or 206-684-0111. In case you're wondering, I am the director on a temporary basis only and will not be applying for the permanent position. I will keep you posted on the search for the new director as the hiring process takes shape. Happy New Year to all!


Kip Tokuda, Acting Director

North Helpline aids people in Lake City


"Janet" works as a caretaker at a nursing home but recently took a leave of absence to care for her ailing mother. As a result, Janet soon fell behind on her rent and faced eviction. Counselors from North Helpline's Emergency Services Program provided Janet with the financial support she needed to remain in her home. 


North Helpline, located in Seattle's Lake City neighborhood, provides essential services, including a food bank (open twice a week) and information and referral, to low-income and homeless people who live in the neighborhood. The agency serves about 550 households a week at its food bank and the agency's emergency services program (open three days a week) helps clients connect with services and benefits such as eviction prevention, help with utility shut-offs, emergency food, hygiene items, and referrals to other agencies and counseling.


Caregiver PhotoNorth Helpline's new 9,000-square-foot facility will allow the agency to expand its services, including an additional day of operations for the food bank. The agency will also have more storage space for food in its new refrigerator and freezer. North Helpline will move into its new location next month. The City of Seattle provided $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the new project (out of a total budget of $1.6 million). The City also provides $35,000 per year for Lake City Food Bank operations. For more information about North Helpline, please visit

(Photo by Heather Trimm)

Donations needed to help prostituted children


Your donations are needed to help children leave a life of prostitution. Between 300 and 500 prostituted children reside in King County, some as young as 11 years old. Prostituted children are subject to severe physical and psychological abuse from pimps and "johns." They often experience mental illness and substance-abuse problems. Recovery from the resulting trauma requires extensive and highly specialized services provided in a safe setting. After years of planning, community partners are coming together to raise money to support a two-year pilot program that will house and provide services to approximately 20 youth per year between the ages of 14 and 17. The Seattle Human Services Department will contract with YouthCare, a local nonprofit agency to provide the services. To make your tax deductible donation click here.

New report on homeless needs

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A new report, "Seattle Homeless Needs Assessment 2009: Report on Findings," provides important new data on homeless people living on the streets in Seattle. The report is a result of a survey of homeless people in the city taken on the evening of April 13, 2009. Community volunteers walked along city sidewalks, through parks and parking areas, and under bridges to survey people who would spend that night unsheltered. The City of Seattle partnered with United Way of King County, the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, and the University of Washington in developing the report. To view the report, click here.

Homeless young people join focus group on jobs


Last month, the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) hosted a community focus group attended by 59 young people who lack stable housing, are in transitional housing, or are homeless. The intent was to learn about barriers these young people face in obtaining employment-related services; identify geographical preferences for such services; and find out what types of employment services they need. Though the event was open to all, HSD staff did special outreach to youth/young adults of color, especially African Americans; individuals with criminal histories; and those identifying as LGBTQ. Research shows that these sub-populations face unique challenges. Both staff and peer leaders facilitated "talking circles," where participants shared personal narratives and provided insight on a range of questions related to improving City-funded employment services to meet the diversity of needs within the homeless population.

Report includes Seattle child nutrition best practices
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A recently released report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors includes four of Seattle's anti-hunger programs among 45 best practices in 24 cities across the country. The report provides examples of successful approaches to meeting the nutritional needs of low-income children. Included in the mayors' report are Seattle's: 
  • Child Care Nutrition Program, which educates more than 200 family child care providers and families on planning healthy meals, combating childhood obesity, using sustainable food practices, reducing children's TV watching, and increasing access to benefits;
  • Food Security for Children Program, which provides formula and diapers, baby food, and clothing at 20 food banks;
  • PeoplePoint program, which connects low-income people with public benefits. In 2008, PeoplePoint helped 5,861 people enroll in programs; and 
  • Summer Food Service Program, which provides breakfast and lunch daily for 5,000 low-income young people at more than 100 sites.
  • H1N1 hits minorities hard

    In case you missed it, KUOW radio's Ruby de Luna reported last month that Public Health officials have found that more than half of the people infected with the H1N1 virus (swine flu) virus were non-white. According to Dr. Tao Kwan-Gett, an epidemiologist with Public Health - Seattle & King County, "H1N1 is not an equal opportunity infection. It did seem to affect certain communities more than others and these communities are some of the same ones at high risk for chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes. So it's quite possible that some of the same factors that contribute to disparities in those chronic conditions played a role in those disparities for H1N1 that we saw in the spring." For details, see the complete story here.
    For the latest news on the swine flu, visit this page on the Public Health Web site. 

    U.S. Census needs workers

    Caregiver PhotoThe U.S. Census Bureau is seeking staff to work at Questionnaire Assistance Centers, where people can go to get help in filling out their census form. On April 1, 2010, the bureau will conduct a count of everyone living in the United States, regardless of legal status. If you know of candidates for these positions, please provide the following information to Francesca Ty Esperanza, Partnership Specialist, U.S. Census Bureau at: name, address, phone number and languages spoken.

    In This Issue
    From the Director
    North Helpline
    Prostituted Children
    Homeless Needs Report
    Homeless Youth Outreach
    Child Nutrition
    H1N1 Hits Minorities
    Census Needs Workers
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    Contact Information
    Life Lines is published by the City of Seattle's Human Service Department (HSD). The mission of the department is to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities. We welcome your comments. Visit us on the Web for more information. If you have questions, please contact David Takami, HSD, at or 206-684-0253.