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Councilmember Herbold’s Statement on Homelessness Emergency Order Ratification

Councilmember Herbold’s Statement on Homelessness Emergency Order Ratification

 

SEATTLE – Councilmember Lisa Herbold issued the following statement following Council’s amending and ratification of Mayor Ed Murray’s Order of Civil Emergency relating to creating safe parking lots for people using vehicles as residences:

“Last year in the One Night Count, volunteers found approximately 760 vehicles with people living inside them.  I thank the Mayor for acting on the clear need to assist these people and, in doing so, addressing the impacts on people living without access to water, garbage, and bathroom facilities.

“Today, Council amended the Order before it took practical effect.  If we hadn’t acted within 48 hours, it would have gone into effect without our changes. Firstly, it was important to explicitly ensure we are collecting demographics on the people served in the safe parking lots.  As outreach workers attempt to find solutions to find permanent housing, it’s essential we track the barriers they face.  We must also track perceived and actual impacts on communities and the City’s response to those impacts. Looking forward, we also need to hear from Executive departments how the City intends to address vehicle camping after the terms for these particular safe lots end.  This was all addressed in the amendments adopted today.

“Secondly, we memorialized operational commitments that were not included in the original Order relating to site management, sanitation, electricity, and potable water, and defining a length of term for the individual lots (six months, with the option for a one-time six month renewal). In addition there is an expectation that these lots will not be reserved for vehicle residents from one particular set of neighborhoods, rather the City will do outreach to all neighborhoods where people are living in their vehicles.  The amendments also require the Executive to justify site suitability and name the factors used to justify that selection.

“Moving forward, it’s important that the Seattle community serves their unhoused neighbors in a way that best meets their needs.  Choosing a remote location with little access to grocery stores, transportation, social services, showers and laundry facilities simply because it’s the easiest choice helps no one.

“Further, these lots cannot be opened to simply serve people living in RVs in Magnolia.  There are vehicle campers all over the city, including Delridge and South Park. If we are to continue this model I want to see the City use a race and social justice lens to fully analyze the properties available citywide and identify choices that are best for those whom we wish to serve, as well as the surrounding community.

“Lastly, I’d like to thank my fellow Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Debora Juarez, and Lorena Gonzalez for working with me to develop amending language to the Mayor’s Order of Civil Emergency. I’m pleased with our vote today, and we intend to continue our efforts to find housing for people who need it most.”

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