Through investments in the U District Partnership (UDP), the University is helping improve the safety and cleanliness of the University District. Recent examples of the UDP’s work include:
Ambassador Program: The UDP contracts with a private security firm to provide a mixture of security presence, visitor assistance and social service referrals along the Ave. Ambassadors patrol the Ave and area around Light Rail seven days per week. They also work closely with UDP’s REACH social worker to coordinate help for unhoused people in the area.
Neighbors with Multiple Needs: In partnership with the Mayor’s Office, City Attorney, Public Defender’s Association, REACH, LEAD and others, the UDP is creating “care plans” for unhoused neighbors to connect them with services needed to stabilize their lives. These could include help with daily medications, housing or other social services depending on their needs.
Cherry Blossom Festival: The UDP organized 34 businesses to offer cherry-related food and drink specials to celebrate the blossoms. The UW supported this with web links and signage directing people to businesses on the Ave. More than 20,000 people visited the festival website, and 800 people scanned the QR Code on signs in the Quad. Several local businesses reported dramatic sales increases – one reporting a 700% increase in one day. Other businesses sold out of food or had lines of people before they even opened.
Tree Lighting: The UDP added year-round tree lighting along the Ave and 43rd to create a safer and more welcoming environment at night. The new lights have changed the atmosphere of the area and contribute to a sense of revitalization. The UDP is planning to expand the lights to 45th and up the Ave.
Broken Windows Fund: A broken window can be very expensive to replace and merchants in the U District have struggled to fix them. The UDP recently created a fund to grant up to $1,000 for window replacement and façade repair. They are also connecting businesses with contractors who can do the work quickly and reliably.
Street Fair 2022: After a two-year pause for the pandemic, this popular festival along the Ave returns on May 21-22. The UDP will place special emphasis this year on creating opportunities for restaurants and merchants from the Ave to have a presence at the fair.
Through investments in the U District Partnership (UDP), the University is improving safety and cleanliness in the U District. Some examples of the work that UDP does include:
Safety Ambassadors patrol the neighborhood seven days per week, providing assistance to visitors and improving security for small businesses. These ambassadors typically work in teams of two and spend their time getting to know the needs of business owners and residents. In addition, the University is paying for an additional ambassador to patrol outside the new U District Sound Transit light rail station Monday through Friday.
Complementing the ambassadors’ work, an Outreach Care Coordinator from REACH works with people experiencing homelessness and mental crisis in the U District. They have been successful in connecting these people with services and housing. Recently, they helped move 29 people off the street into Rosie’s Tiny Home Village located at 11th & 45th.
On January 28, UDP organized a walk with elected officials and City of Seattle staff to better understand the safety issues facing U District business owners and residents. This walk included Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Sara Nelson, City Attorney Ann Davison, Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz, Deputy Mayor Kendee Yamaguchi and key staff from the Mayor’s Office. They learned first-hand about recent problems with graffiti, broken windows, theft and mental health crisis. UDP is following-up with the City to make sure these issues are addressed in a constructive and collaborative manner.
The UDP contracts to provide daily cleaning along the Ave and periodic cleaning throughout the U District. In 2021, they provided 7,995 hours of cleaning. This included the removal of 7,966 graffiti tags, 7,975 biohazards and 11,209 bags of trash. They also sweep leaves and shovel snow.
UDP recently began a Broken Window and Façade Improvement Program to assist business owners with damage to their building fronts. Unfortunately, a number of windows have been broken recently in the District. This program will offer assistance to these businesses to get their windows replaced and make other improvements to their building facades.
To make the U District more welcoming and dissuade graffiti, the UDP has also been painting murals throughout the neighborhood. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Neptune Theatre, UDP commissioned an art installation along the side of the alley off of NE 45th between the Ave and Brooklyn. It features a graphic trident, representation of waves, and colorful scales. The mural is the beginning of a larger effort to beautify U District alleys through public art.
In addition to physical improvements, the UDP is also planning several events to energize the neighborhood this year. This spring, businesses will celebrate the cherry blossoms by featuring cherry or cherry blossom-themed menu items, products. “Boba Fest” will celebrate the nearly 20 bubble tea restaurants in the University District on National Boba Day – Saturday, April 30, 2022. In May, the U District Street Fair will return after a two-year hiatus.
With the pandemic spurring more outdoor dining and recent completion of a new NE 43rd Street, the University District Partnership has sparked a new look between the light rail station and campus, one that emphasizes people over vehicles. The Partnership has deployed picnic tables along 43rd for everyone to enjoy – preferably with a meal from a nearby restaurant. For a refresher on local restaurants, check the Partnership’s handy guide to the neighborhood with information on shops, services, classes, entertainment, places to live, and more.
Improvements to 43rd and the re-opening of Brooklyn Ave. NE set the stage for the October 2 opening of the U District light rail station, one of three new Seattle stations that make up Sound Transit’s Northgate Link Extension.
A special thanks to UW’s Facilities Services who helped paint these picnic tables. This is part of the University’s ongoing partnership with the community to improve the surrounding neighborhood.
Earlier this week, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins announced the launch of a second Health One unit to expand the program to the U District. Health One is a 9‑1‑1 response team comprised of firefighters/EMTs and case managers who are specifically trained to help people experiencing mental illness, substance use disorder and non-emergency medical issues.
With the second Health One unit becoming operational on April 15, the program will now cover the U District and Ballard in addition to the downtown core and Capitol Hill.
Each Health One unit includes two firefighters/EMTs and one case manager from the Human Services Department Aging and Disability Services Division. Unlike other emergency responders, the Health One units can spend more time with the individual in distress and connect them with the services that will help them remain stable after the team leaves the scene. This could include providing the individual a referral to a shelter, helping them schedule a next-day appointment or supplying them food and clothing.
Health One dovetails with the U District Partnership’s existing outreach program operated by REACH. The REACH Care Coordinator, David Delgado, works with individuals experiencing homelessness and mental illness to help them achieve stability. Through daily outreach and ongoing relationship building, David helps homeless neighbors access essential resources including housing, health care and treatment.