The PDA CoLEAD team was created in April 2020 in response to COVID crises and closures. The “Co” in CoLEAD signifies COVID, community and co-responder. A response team was rapidly recruited and trained under the leadership of Jesse Benet, PDA’s Deputy Director.
Responding to this need, in April of 2020, PDA began to convert LEAD resources to outreach and intensive case management teams, designed to respond to the needs of unsheltered individuals and groups whose situations negatively impacted neighborhoods and who required behavioral health support, income stabilization, and basic needs.
It became evident that social distancing, access to sanitation and shelter in place options in encampments was impossible. Like others, locally and nationally, we realized that hotels were suddenly empty. These newly underutilized facilities allowed for ready sanitation and social distancing as well as platforms for intensive case management support for people struggling with complex behavioral health issues and a dearth of legal income sources, as the conventional economy shriveled.
Beginning in May of 2020, CoLEAD deployed outreach responder teams in Burien to screen people under consideration for release from jail, if intensive support were available. The CoLEAD team began supporting participants with complex needs and challenging behaviors in a group of hotels in Seattle and SeaTac. This work continues today.