Seriously Addressing Homelessness in Seattle

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With the Council’s recognition of the Mayor’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency on homelessness, the City of Seattle has the opportunity to dramatically escalate the fight against homelessness. Activists and social service providers have been organizing for decades to win this admission from the City government, and I want to thank everyone for the work they have done. I also want to join community activists and social service providers in calling on the City to match our words with action.

While I support the Mayor’s commitment to allocate $5,350,000 in additional funding, we need to understand the scope of this action – $5 million is far less than one percent of the City’s entire budget. It is a start, but it is in no way in proportion to the scale of the crisis. We must go further, and support every other budget amendment this year that we could possibly make in order to further homeless services and affordable housing.

Last month, I presented my colleagues with a number of amendments. Two of my amendments secured sponsorship – an amendment to increase funding for family homeless shelters by $255,953 to cover the rent increases that the YWCA operated shelter currently faces, and an amendment to allocate $154,810 to fund an Urban Rest Stop at the University District. I welcome all Councilmembers to join us in supporting these amendments.

At the same time, it is essential that the Council look seriously into my amendment to provide the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness (SKCCH) with the $10 million necessary to provide basic critical services. This amount is the most scaled down option provided by the SKCCH – without it, their ability to support the community will have been undermined.

Finally, we must remind Councilmembers that now is the time to discuss all of our options. We could revisit my proposal to provide more funding for emergency housing, specifically Tent Cities, to help people get off the street now. We also need to urgently discuss how we can use the City’s Emergency Subfund to address this crisis. The Mayor and the City Council have acknowledged that this is an emergency. We should be using a significant portion of our emergency funds to of that fund to bolster services in the face of this crisis.

We should be doing other things as well, revisiting proposals for progressive taxation, such as the business head tax, and discussing how we can use the City’s bonding capacity issue to build thousands of units upfront of affordable housing.

We need to be clear – housing is a human right, and it is our duty to make sure that it is provided.

Please take just a few minutes right now to contact Councilmembers and ask them to 1) support budget actions allocating funding for the YWCA shelter and the University District Urban Rest Stop, 2) allocate $10 million to support the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, and 3) join me in discussing how we can further amend the budget and utilize the City’s Emergency Subfund to end homelessness in Seattle now:

1) Email all Councilmembers at once through

2) Call individual Councilmembers:

SALLY BAGSHAW – 206-684-8801; TIM BURGESS – 206-684-8806;

JEAN GODDEN – 206-684-8807; BRUCE HARRELL – 206-684-8804;

NICK LICATA – 206-684-8803; MIKE O’BRIEN – 206-684-8800;

JOHN OKAMOTO – 206-684-8802; TOM RASMUSSEN – 206-684-8808

3) Then Come to City Hall for Critical Budget Votes – Monday, November 16, 10 am at Seattle City Hall.

Councilmembers will be voting on which changes they want to make to the budget. We need your help to pack City Hall to urge Councilmembers to approve every amendment to improve this year’s Seattle City budget.