The City of Seattle recently published a Chinatown International District (CID) Resource Guide for community members to access local resources more directly.
The guide is remodeled from the Emerald City Resource Guide, which was published by Real Change pre-pandemic.
Since so much has happened since then, CID community-based organizations, in partnership with the City, decided last year to update and republish the guide to reach a greater number of people.
While the guide was developed to support unhoused people in the CID, it’s also an opportunity to connect neighborhood residents and small business owners with local community-based organizations.
“There are a lot of people in the Chinatown International District, from all different roles and capacities, who are just seeing a kind of communal need in the neighborhood,” said Samuel Wolff, LEAD Senior Project Manager at Purpose. Dignity. Action. “I think it was really an attempt to try to organize all of our collective knowledge.”
The guide is divided into categories: food assistance and supplies, day centers, free interpretation, faith-based organization, night shelters, bathrooms and showers, healthcare and medical resources, and domestic violence/survivors support. Translated versions are available to serve the CID’s diverse residents.
In order to get the most accurate and up-to-date information, Evelyn Chow, the District Director for Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, said she and others called each of the numbers listed in the guide to narrow down the places that put people on hold for a long time.
Another contributor to the remodeled guide, Laura Jenkins, the Community Engagement Coordinator at Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, added that she also noticed how long wait times could be before connecting with an actual person.
“When we were reaching out to some of the different organizations and calling the main line, we basically had to wait the amount of time that anybody calling would have to wait because we might not have had a specific person that we were connected with yet,” said Jenkins.
Based on this experience, Jenkins said she added specific descriptions to each resource. For example, helplines with longer wait times are now noted in the guide.
During the creation process, Wolff suggested adding the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. All calls and texts “988” route to a 24/7 call center that provides confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress.
Quynh Pham, Executive Director of Friends of Little Saigon, pointed out that throughout the guide’s development, they thoughtfully ordered phone numbers specific to different types of emergencies.
“They don’t want to call 911 every time because they know that the response time is slower for non-emergency,” Pham said.
But aside from a timely response, what matters most is whether community members get their needs met.
“The police show up. And the problem doesn’t get solved. And we want folks to get resources that they need,” Chow said.
Since the guide was published, it has already been useful, both for people seeking assistance and local residents just trying to figure out what’s available. Wolff also emphasized how many who commit crimes are people whose unlawful activity stems from extreme poverty and/or unaddressed behavioral health.
“Sometimes it can be hard to understand why there’s so many resources in Seattle,” Wolff said. “We’re in a very wealthy city and there’s a lot of resources. And it can be hard to imagine why there’s so much need still.”
According to Pham, Friends of Little Saigon is designing a program that will advocate for the city to create a budget for the hiring of additional case management in that area.
“The outreach right now, it’s like touch and go. They asked if people need help, and if they say no, then that’s it,” she said. “It is important to have someone that can go out and talk to people on the street, not just connecting them with resources, but making sure that they’re actually getting the help they need and going through the process.”
The guide can be found here: https://www.seattle.gov/human-services/reports-and-data/addressing-homelessness/cid-resource-guide