Federal Response Needed for Emergency
SEATTLE – Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Budget Committee, released the following statement after the Budget Committee sent a 2016 Budget to the Full Council:
“As my 18 years in office come to an end, I’ve reflected on how funding for human services has changed in Seattle. I compared the first budget I voted for in 1999 to the 2016 budget approved by the Budget Committee today. Here’s what I found:
- Federal human services grants to Seattle have decreased from $46.5 million to $37.9 million, a decrease of 43%, adjusted for inflation
- Federal grants have shrunk from 62% to 26% of the City’s Human Services budget, a 58% decrease
- The City’s General Fund contribution to the Human Services budget has more than doubled, from 25% to 55%
- The percent of the City’s General Fund dedicated to human services has doubled, from 3.5% to 7%.
“This increasing reliance on the city’s general fund is a direct result of federal neglect.
“These figures place in stark relief the impact of years of the federal government’s retreat. The needs have not gone away–they have simply been shifted onto cities. Mayor Murray’s declaration of a homeless emergency, and the emergency declared in Portland, have been building for years. Cities cannot solve this emergency alone: federal assistance is needed.
“Homelessness in Seattle is at a crisis level. The Council’s addition of $2.3 million in one-time funding, not only to expand shelter beds to get people off the street, but to fund new beds, extend day center services and outreach services to vulnerable homeless adults, support authorized encampments, and childcare for homeless children — come in appropriations beyond the $5 million in one-time funds announced earlier this month.
“I believe that when more people have a chance to reach their full potential and enough economic security to make investments in their future, the benefits ripple throughout communities. The budget the Budget Committee approved today invests in those basic needs such as safety, stability and health. However, cities cannot do this alone; we need the federal government to contribute.”
Full Council will vote on the Budget Committee’s recommendations this afternoon at 2:00 p.m.
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