On November 3, 2015, one day after the Mayor issued a Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness, I joined homeless organizers, social justice activists, and social service providers to deliver the following statement.
Let’s Use the City’s Rainy Day Fund to Seriously Address This Crisis
SEATTLE – Councilmember Kshama Sawant, along with Julia Sterkovsky, the Executive Director of Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC); Patricia Hayden and Steve Daschle, the co-chairs of SHSC; Tim Harris, the Founder Director of Real Change; Liz Etta, the Interim Director of the Tenants Union of Washington State; Robby Stern, the President of Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action; Katie Wilson, the General Secretary of the Transit Riders Union; Jarvis Capucion, Board Member of Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE)*; Andrew Constantino, participant of SHARE; and Peggy Hotes, volunteer with Nickelsville issued the following statement regarding the Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness affirmed by the Seattle City Council today:
“The Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness recognizes the deep crisis that homeless advocates have been highlighting for years. We owe a debt of gratitude to the on the ground activists from Nickelsville, SHARE/WHEEL, and Real Change, as well as the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC), One Night Count volunteers, and the affordable housing and transit activists who continue to make this issue a priority.
“We welcome the $5 million commitment and are supporting it, along with every budget amendment furthering homeless services and affordable housing.
“The SHSC has recommended that a bare minimum of $15 million dollars is necessary for the coalition to provide basic, critical services. We sincerely hope that the Council will follow up on today’s Proclamation with a commitment to fund the full $15 million. We also hope the Council will uphold the spirit of the proclamation by including every proposed funding increase for homeless services in the new budget.
“For context, the Seattle Police Department recently exceeded its own overtime budget (without consultation with the Council) by $14 million – almost three times the amount now being put forward to resolve the state of emergency for homelessness.
“The City has $100 million available between the ‘Rainy Day fund’ and Emergency Subfund, which is utilized for emergencies. The Mayor and City Council have now acknowledged that we’re facing an emergency. We appeal to Councilmembers and the Mayor to use a significant portion of this fund to bolster the $5 million that is currently being proposed. We also hope Councilmembers will revisit Sawant’s budget proposal to introduce taxes on the super wealthy and big business in order to meet homeless needs.
“After years of pressure and organizing, including the 2014 and 2015 People’s Budget Town Halls, we are finally seeing initial results as the political establishment recognizes this is an emergency situation. Now we need to seriously act on it.”
*for identification purposes only