Life Lines
April 2011
Mid-year budget reductions

Dannette R. Smith


Last week, Mayor Mike McGinn shared some difficult news about the City budget. Despite some good economic news, a number of external and internal variables point to potential budget shortfalls in 2011. Given challenges like lower-than-expected utility tax receipts, changes to parking meter revenues, and deficits at the state and federal levels, the City's General Fund is expected to face a shortfall of up to $16 million this year. (See video of the Mayor's news conference here.)


This forecast is resulting in a direction we had hoped to avoid - mid-year 2011 budget cuts across City departments that receive General Fund support. The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) has been asked to propose a 3% cut to our General Fund support, which totals just over $1.5 million. The Mayor intends on using proposals submitted by departments to make prioritized decisions about the budget gap.The intended start date of any reductions would be early July.


At the federal level, we expect the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) allocation for 2011 to be significantly less than anticipated. In addition, the President has proposed a 7.5% reduction to the 2012 CDBG program from 2010 levels. HSD's CDBG funds pay for homeless shelter services as well as the cost of administering the program. Any reduction to CDBG needs to be factored in to our overall budget reduction scenario, as the Mayor may want to offset reductions to CDBG funding for shelter services with General Fund. As a result, this potential reduction of $2.8 million for CDBG-funded shelter services is included in the General Fund picture described above.


The news is grim but on a positive note, I want to recognize how hard human services providers and City staff are working, and how much you all care about serving our community. I appreciate your dedication to ensuring human services programs and services are strong and that in these difficult times those most in need have access to help.


Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
Bush Hotel meal program re-opens

Bush Hotel lion danceThe Congregate Meals Program at the historic Bush Hotel resumed operations last month as renovation of this social service space was completed. The Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDPDA), owner/manager of the Bush Hotel and operator of the meals program, improved the kitchen and meals/activity spaces used by the program with approximately $316,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and CDBG-R ("stimulus") funds provided by the Human Services Department's (HSD) Community Facilities Program. The space, which had not been renovated in more than 25 years, is used to serve affordable meals to low- and moderate-income seniors. SCIDPDA also provides social and physical activities to program participants. HSD contracts with local agencies to provide two senior lunch programs and a weekly food bank at the Bush Hotel, and last year, more than 16,000 meals were served. A grand re-opening of this newly renovated space is expected sometime this summer.

City-funded programs help Seattle students
Child w/backpackThanks to school-based early learning classes, after-school programs, community learning centers, and health center programs in Seattle, more children are ready for kindergarten, more students are meeting state test standards, school attendance and homework completion rates are up, family engagement has increased, and immunizations and management of chronic health conditions have improved. The City of Seattle invests more $11 million annually in school-based programs as part of the Seattle Public Schools Community Alignment Initiative. Human Services Department staff manage contracts, monitor programs for quality, and collaborate with Seattle Public Schools and community providers in delivering services to students and their families. In the 2009-10 school year, 15,595 pre-K through high school students were served. For more information, please contact Kathleen Groshong, Seattle Human Services Department at or 206-684-0520.
Domestic violence hotline listed as 'promising practice'
Battered women justiceThe Battered Women's Justice Project Web site just published an article about the Seattle Human Services Department's Peace in the Home Helpline, a toll-free telephone hotline for limited-English speaking victims of domestic violence. It features the Helpline as a "promising practice." Visit their Web site to read the complete article. Click on the Promising Practices tab at the top of the page.
Input needed on plan for seniors, adults with disabilities

Area Plan on AgingAging & Disability Services (ADS) invites you to participate in a brief survey to help identify key strategies that will promote quality of life, independence and choice for older people and adults with disabilities. Input from residents who are age 60 and older or adults with disabilities is especially needed. The survey will be available through April 29, 2011 and should take 10 minutes to complete. Your responses will inform the development of ADS's 2012-2015 Area Plan on Aging.


For more information on the plan development process, see the March issue of Seniors Digest or contact Karen Winston, Seattle Human Services Department, Aging & Disability Services at 206-684-0706 or

Helping our students stay healthy

Since 1990, the Families and Education Levy has helped provide high-quality health services at several Seattle schools. Research shows that students learn better when they get primary care, mental health care, and health education. Last month, Mayor Mike McGinn joined Councilmember Tim Burgess, Seattle Human Services Department Director Dannette Smith, and others on a tour of two school-based health centers funded in part by the Families and Education Levy. The group also spent time in the classroom with students. You can read about what the mayor saw on the tour, and why these health centers are so important, here. 

Call for photos

Asian familyDo you have any compelling photographs that depict the people you serve and the services that you provide? We'd love to see them and possibly feature them - with your permission of course - in our publications, Web site, and other material. We will gladlly credit the agency and photographer. Please submit your photos to David Takami, Seattle Human Services Department,


HSD performance expectations

For the last several months, City of Seattle department directors have been working with the Mayor's Office on a set of performance expectations for each department. The Mayor's Office provided the template and guidance, and departments worked on the most relevant projects or areas to report on and track. The expectations are posted on the City Web site for the public to view, and will be updated regularly to show progress. The Seattle Human Services Department's expectations were posted last month and can be found here. You can read other department expectations here. 

Online survey to gather community input on public safety

Mayor Mike McGinn has announced a new tool to gather input on public safety from Seattle residents. An online survey, drafted by a team of graduate students at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, will help determine residents' primary public safety concerns in their own neighborhoods and on public transportation. To take the survey, click here. 

Are you prepared for an earthquake?
Red Cross logoThe devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the tsunami in Japan have affected hundreds of thousands of people in Japan and elsewhere. In the aftermath of the disaster, the American Red Cross encourages residents to evaluate their own personal earthquake plan and to take steps to be better prepared for a disaster.

Earthquake Preparedness Tips:

  • Be aware of fire evacuation and earthquake plans for all buildings you occupy.
  • Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school.
  • Practice drop, cover and hold on in each safe place.
  • Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person's bed.
  • Make sure your home is securely anchored to its foundation.
  • Bolt and brace water heaters and gas appliances to wall studs.
  • Bolt bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture to wall studs.
  • Hang heavy items, such as pictures and mirrors, away from where people sleep or sit.
  • Brace overhead light fixtures.

For more tips and to learn about what to do during or after an earthquake please visit the Red Cross Web site.

City of Seattle logo 

Life Lines is published monthly by the City of Seattle's Human Service Department. Our mission 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. For more timely or breaking news, visit our blog, Human Interests, or visit our Web site. If you have questions, please e-mail David Takami or call 206-684-0253.

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