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DESC was there for me in crisis and recovery... My family and I are forever thankful! Sincerely, Nicole

Nicole came to DESC while she was living on the streets and received a range of personalized, integrated services. Thanks to her efforts and coordinated care from DESC programs, she’s no longer homeless and serves as a peer counselor for men and women facing the challenges of life with no place to call home. Integrated care that reaches people where and when they need it most —that’s Nicole’s new job and our mission at DESC.

CRISIS SOLUTIONS CENTER The Crisis Solutions Center (CSC) provides a new resource for police, medics, crisis mental health professionals, and other first responders to use for individuals who are in crisis and might otherwise receive no help, or be taken to jail or a hospital emergency department. The goal of the CSC is to reduce chronic homelessness and unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice and emergency medical systems.

PACT MIST DESC’s Multidisciplinary Intensive Support and Treatment (MIST) partners with several housing, mental health and chemical dependency providers to engage chronically homeless people into services and permanent supportive housing programs. MIST’s target population is those with the highest crisis system usage and/ or the highest scores from DESC’s Vulnerability Assessment Tool. The goal is for individuals to access sustainable permanent housing, recovery supports and mainstream funding sources through assertive engagement and case management services.

DESC is one of the few agencies in Washington to deliver a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT). PACT is a nationally recognized practice that works with people who suffer from serious and persistent mental illness, assisting them in their journey towards recovery. The PACT model is distinguished by its intensive outreach and teamoriented, trans-disciplinary approach.

SAGE SAGE, which stands for Support, Advocacy, Growth, and Employment, is the ongoing comprehensive case management component of DESC’s mental health program. SAGE case managers work with clients to help them secure and maintain housing and improve their clinical and social stability, thus enhancing their level of independence and self-sufficiency.

CHEMICAL DEPENDENCY SERVICES Many people DESC serves have a substance abuse history in addition to their cooccurring mental disorder. Often people suffering from mental illness who lack access to psychiatric treatment, attempt to self-medicate with street drugs or alcohol to lessen the symptoms. Our clinical services allow counselors to work in coordination with mental health case managers so that services meet clients at their current level and offer the support that can lead to significant change.

DESC has 10 permanent housing programs, each serving between 40180 adults. Each housing program has 24 hours a day, 7 days a week wrap around services such as: state-licensed mental health and chemical dependency treatment, on site health care services, daily meals and weekly outings to food banks, case management, and medication monitoring. Most importantly, each housing program creates a sense of family and community. In 2013 DESC opened two new housing programs: Aurora House in North Seattle with 87 units and Cottage Grove Commons with 66 units in West Seattle.

EMPLOYMENT SUPPORT Employment enhances selfsufficiency and places a big role in a person’s recovery and housing stability. DESC’s trained employment specialists provide: resume and interview classes, basic education, retail employment training, on-site job support for employees, training and support services for employers, computer labs for job research, work-appropriate clothing, and laundry and hygiene facilities.


Downtown Emergency Service Center


CRISIS RESPITE PROGRAM Working in partnership with Harborview Medical Center, King County Mental Health Court, and hospitals across the county, the Crisis Respite Program is a vital buffer between psychiatric emergency care and life back on the streets. It provides severely mentally ill homeless men and women, just emerging from a recent crisis or jail, a chance to stabilize in safe, secure and supportive surroundings and connect with services and housing. Without this program, these people would have little choice but to return to the streets, where they would most likely repeat a cycle of using costly public services like emergency rooms, jails, sobering centers and courts.

HOST HOST (Homeless Outreach Stabilization and Transition) case managers “take to the streets” where they provide outreach and intensive case management there and in shelters, hospitals, jails, libraries and other facilities. By seeking out mentally ill and homeless people in this way, HOST outreach staff develop trusting relationships that encourage new clients to begin seeking assistance.


SHELTER For many homeless adults, the DESC Emergency Shelter Program is their first contact with our comprehensive service network. Each night, 279 men and women find refuge in our three shelters where they are able to escape the danger, fear, and discomfort of living on the streets, for at least a short time. In 2013 alone, this Emergency Shelter Program provided 97,000 bed-nights of shelter and 110,000 meals for nearly 6,000 clients. During the day, the main emergency shelter becomes a drop-in center where people can seek refuge from the elements and access food, showers, hygiene items, clean clothes, and mail pick-up. In this way, a tooth brush or a simple meal become tools of engagement, creating an opportunity for staff to gain a client’s attention and trust. The Shelter is designed to promote engagement with vulnerable residents, while providing survival services and comprehensive on-site support services. Program case managers work with clients, one-to-one, to help them navigate through program offerings, ensuring maximum program impact for each client. While proving a lifeline to nearly 5,000 people annually, this program works to reduce the number of people requiring long-term shelter services.

CONNECTIONS The Connections Program is a community hygiene and employment service center for homeless adults who are not involved in DESC’s mental health system. Connections provides case management and a variety of day services to adults who are currently homeless and looking for employment and housing. Connections case managers conduct comprehensive assessments gathering information regarding clients’ unique housing situations, employment, and medical histories. Employment Specialists help clients research, identify and apply for jobs, assist with writing resumes, completing applications, and prepare participants for interview.



Pioneer Thrift is DESC’s thrift store located next to the historic Union Hotel on 2nd and Washington on the edge of historic Pioneer Square. Not only does Pioneer Thrift hold retail treasures at remarkably low prices, but it also works with DESC shelter and housing clients who are participating in our supported employment program. Income from Pioneer Thrift supports the employment program as well as purchases needed clothing for other clients.

American Journal of Public Health published an article on DESC’s Housing First programs, showing it retains people in housing, even when they are not actively seeking it. DESC was selected as one of the “in-person assister organizations” to help people sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We hired a dedicated staff person and trained nearly 30 others to do this important work of getting people enrolled in Medicaid. DESC trained providers from Anchorage, Nashivlle, Spokane and Island County, WA on implementing the Vulnerability Assessment Tool.

Desc 2013 annual report  
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