When we come together to support those who are unhoused with comprehensive services, our community builds stability, resiliency, and compassion. The City is committed to helping ensure our city is safe, inclusive, and welcoming to all, including those members of our community experiencing homelessness. Learn more about the City's response here.
Have you seen someone in Kirkland living unhoused that could use help? If so, please let us know through the Our Kirkland app or portal using the “Homelessness Assistance and Response Team” topic.
Click here to go to the Our Kirkland Portal
The Our Kirkland Portal is your one stop shop to report non-emergency issues, request services, and ask questions. Your Our Kirkland submission will be routed to the City’s Homelessness Assistance and Response Team (HART) for evaluation and action. For emergencies, please call 9-1-1.
What happens when I notify the City of someone living unhoused in need of help?
1. Submissions labeled “Homelessness Concerns” in Our Kirkland go directly to the City’s Homeless Outreach Coordinator.
2. Homeless Outreach staff gather information and evaluate the situation at the location listed in the submission.
3.Homeless Outreach staff build rapport and trust with the individuals to understand current needs and connect them with resources.
4. Next steps are determined with other staff on the City’s Homelessness Assistance and Response Team and with non-profit and regional partners.
5. If the Our Kirkland submission contains contact information, staff will confirm receipt and provide an opportunity to share additional information.
Homeless Outreach Coordinator
Parks and Community Services
Meli is in the field to meet unhoused residents and connect them with resources to find stable housing or meet other unique needs.
Homeless Outreach Program - aims to transition unhoused people to stable housing through relationship-building, trust and re-connecting to resources.
Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO)
Kirkland Police Department (KPD)
Tiffany assists with homeless outreach and resource referral. When calls are placed to 911 or referred by Officers in the field. Focuses on problem-solving first, and is authorized to issue trespass and vacate notices and cite/arrest for disorderly conduct.
KPD NRO Unit – Liaison between community and KPD to stop crime, solve neighborhood problems and provide public safety education.
Chris Meter, EMT-Firefighter & Taryn Robinson, Case Manager
Kirkland Fire Department
Chris and Taryn assist with homeless outreach when calls to 911 reveal that housing, medical and/or other services may be an underlying need. Provides case management for vulnerable adults, resource referral, and follow-up.
Mobile Integrated Health (MIH) Unit of the Kirkland Fire Department - Serving frequent EMS 911 callers, non-emergent medical issues, and patients with complex social needs.
Crisis Responder Mental Health Professional Supervisor
Renee assists with homeless outreach when mental health crises are reported to 911. Provides assessments, crisis response, de-escalation, resource referral and follow-up.
RCR Agency - Regional Crisis Response (RCR) Agency, mobile first response by Mental Health Professionals (MHPs) to 911 calls with mental health issues in Bothell, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park and Shoreline.
Parks & Community Services
Betty helps with homeless outreach and referral in parks and responds to emergencies in parks. Educates, warns, enforces, and issues tickets for park rule violations.
Park Ranger Program – customer service to park visitors to ensure a safe, welcoming, and positive experience in Kirkland parks and open spaces.
Streets and Grounds Manager
Ryan assists with homeless outreach and referral on the CKC and other locations kept by Public Works. Supports debris removal and cleanup, as needed.
Streets and Grounds, Public Works - Maintains 648 lane miles of streets, 4 acres of City medians, 5.75 miles of the Cross Kirkland Corridor (CKC), and 30,000 trees.
Code Enforcement Team, Planning & Building
Denise’s team assists with homeless outreach on private property. Communicates with property owner, coordinates response with staff.
Code Enforcement Program - investigates violations of City and public health regulations. Aims to resolve issues through education, compliance, negotiation and/or engagement.
Kirkland Municipal Court
Travis helps unhoused Community Court participants transition to stable housing. Develops service plans that may include a mental health assessment, completing a GED, and obtaining health insurance and stable housing.
Community Court Program – blends accountability and compassion by addressing underlying issues that contribute to criminal behavior leading to low level misdemeanor offenses.
Investments in Homelessness Prevention
The City of Kirkland’s goal is to prevent homelessness. When homelessness does occur, our priority is to transition individuals back into stable housing as soon as possible. The City works regionally with North and East King County cities to collaborate, coordinate, and fund support systems that help residents access resources to meet their basic needs.
- An overview of City-funded programs is available on the Kirkland Human Services Dashboard. Programs include resources for eviction prevention, emergency shelter services, homeless and housing services, food and essential supplies, and education and employment assistance.
- The City of Kirkland has also contributed significant funds to and is a member of a Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH), whose goal is to preserve and increase the supply of housing for low- and moderate-income households in East King County.
- Additionally, the City collaborates with the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) whose 5-year plan is to significantly decrease homelessness throughout King County.
- Locally, the City works with community and faith-based partners that are dedicated to serving vulnerable residents. Recently, the City created a dedicated position, a Homeless Outreach Coordinator, to work proactively with unhoused residents and connect them to resources.
The City's investments in these critical areas provide a continuum of care to those who are, or at risk of, experiencing homelessness:
Read More about Kirkland’s Homelessness Continuum of Care
The City's Response to Unhoused Residents
People are unhoused for a variety of reasons that could include mental health challenges, lack of affordable housing, insufficient income, lack of affordable healthcare, domestic violence, lack of treatment services, and more. The homelessness continuum of care works best by building rapport and trust with unhoused community members to understand their unique challenges to getting back into stable housing. This work can take time and requires coordination among City staff and local non-profit and regional partners to meet the unique needs of every individual.
To facilitate this work, the City has established a Homelessness Assistance and Response Team, or HART, consisting of staff members from various departments to provide compassionate outreach and assistance to residents experiencing homelessness. HART also serves as a point of contact for community members seeking a response to homelessness.
City of Kirkland’s HART Team is modeled after and inspired by the successful HART Team created by the City of Vancouver, Washington.
HART’s first strategy is to transition individuals back into stable housing through outreach and case management services provided by HART members and partner agencies. HART utilizes various services in Kirkland and surrounding communities(PDF, 2MB) and refers unhoused community members to these services as needed. This approach is enormously successful, and, by focusing efforts on transitioning individuals back to stable housing, staff often eliminate the need to activate the second strategy.
However, in certain circumstances, particularly if there is a public health and/or safety concern for the unhoused individual or other members of the community, staff may need to deploy certain response policies and procedures as a second strategy. These next steps are determined on a case-by-case basis and are largely dictated by case law decriminalizing homelessness and the availability of shelter beds.
Additional information about HART's approach is provided in the FAQs below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the City consider it a crime to be homeless?
No, the City’s policy is that it is not a crime to experience homelessness. In addition, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has made several rulings that warn cities against actions to criminalize being homeless. For example, a federal district court found in the Martin v. City of Boise decision that the enforcement of a no camping ban on public park property, which included misdemeanor citations and trespass removals, criminalized the conduct of being homeless. Fines for littering, citations, and other removals create barriers for unhoused folks to secure housing. It does not address the drivers of homelessness nor help unhoused folks secure housing. Accordingly, the court held it was unconstitutional to enforce an overnight camping ban against unhoused individuals unless the city could demonstrate nearby shelter beds were available, among other criteria.
Read brief summaries of some case law related to homelessness.
Does the City allow overnight camping in its public parks or other public places?
No. By code, City parks are closed to the public overnight through posted hours of operation. Case law decriminalizing homelessness, such as the Martin v. City of Boise decision, prevents the City from enforcing this closure for unhoused individuals unless there are shelter beds available, among other criteria. In these situations, City staff call shelters to confirm shelter availability.
The City’s HART Team is considering several other solutions for times when shelter beds are unavailable. One example of a possible solution under consideration is to offer a specified City property for safe overnight camping.
What is the City’s approach if an individual is blocking a street or sidewalk and refuses to move?
Kirkland Police Officers resolve matters on a case-by-case basis, using their discretion to problem solve in a way that considers the entire community. Officers work with other staff on the HART Team to offer resources and request that they move. If the person won’t move, they may be cited for disorderly conduct.
What about the clean-up of encampments on public property such as parks or open spaces?
When there is adequate shelter availability, the City may provide formal notice to vacate and remove personal property within a specific amount of time, typically at least 72 hours. Removed belongings are stored for at least 60 days. During times of limited or no shelter availability, the City monitors camps and continues case management procedures, cleanup of abandoned camps, and limited camp removal only in certain circumstances. Decisions to move forward with active camp removal and cleanup during times of limited shelter availability are made by the City on a case-by-case basis.
Why do residents choose not to accept services? What happens if they do not accept services?
Unhoused residents can choose not to accept services. They may do this for several reasons including fear for their safety, distrust of the services offered due to a bad experience with another program, leaving their belongings (e.g. limited space, pets), or fear of losing autonomy over their situation. In addition, shelter is not an appropriate option for everyone considering behavioral health needs, household composition, or other invisible factors.
If an unhoused resident chooses not to accept available services but does not pose a safety risk to themselves or other community members, the outreach team focuses on repeated interactions over time with the individual to build trust in order to better understand what an appropriate option is on a case-by-case basis.
What happens if someone is living unhoused on private property?
Private property owners who have discovered someone living on their property without permission have a few options for next steps. First, they can request that individual leave. If they do not leave, property owners can request assistance from Kirkland Police to issue a trespass order by calling the non-emergency line at 425-577-5656, or if there is an emergency, by calling 911. Property owners can also fill out an online report or submit a request through Our Kirkland.
Cleanup of any litter left behind is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner. Most property owners are responsive in cleaning up their property but those that are not may be directed to do so by the City’s Code Enforcement team if the debris is visible from the public right of way and a complaint is filed. In these circumstances, the Code Enforcement Team starts by issuing a letter asking the property owner to remove the debris within a specified time frame. If the property owner is not responsive, the Code Enforcement Team may issue a Notice of Civil Violation and ask the Hearing Examiner to assess monetary or other penalties. Ultimately, the City can abate the problem and require the property owner to pay for the work to clean up the debris. The Code Enforcement Team can also help connect the property owner with outside organizations that may be able to help with the clean-up effort if the property owner cannot afford to pay or is otherwise unable to complete the work. Property owners can contact the Code Enforcement Team at 425-587-3600 or CodeEnforcement@kirklandwa.gov.
How many people experience homelessness in Kirkland?
For years, a one-night count was made of people sleeping outside and unsheltered in King County. This point-in-time (PIT) count served as a snapshot of homelessness on a single night, typically in late January. According to the 2020 Count Us In report, 446 unsheltered people and 586 sheltered people were found in East King County.
King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA), who leads data collection efforts county wide, did not conduct a count in 2021 and in 2022 received an exception to change how the agency approaches data collection. Recognizing there is no singular methodology that accurately captures those experiencing homelessness, KCRHA incorporated a hybrid model of the PIT and a cross-systems analysis of homeless response systems. For more information, visit the Data Collection dashboard.
How can I support addressing homelessness on the Eastside?
There are several organizations that support residents experiencing homelessness on the Eastside. For current volunteer opportunities, please contact the organizations directly.
Should I call 911 when I see someone living unhoused in Kirkland?
If you see a crime, public safety incident, medical emergency, or other signs of distress that need immediate first response attention, please call 911. For non-emergency situations, the best way to inform the Homeless Assistance and Resources Team of an unhoused resident that could use help is through the Our Kirkland Portal or the non-emergency police line at 425-577-5656.