April 8, 2021
Dear Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Human Services Department Interim Director Helen Howell,
I am writing to ask what steps have been taken to make hotel rooms, tiny houses, and permanent supportive housing available to the community members currently sheltering in Miller Playfield, and to urge you to rapidly expand Seattle’s tiny house villages.
We have seen over the last decade that sweeping homeless encampments is not only inhumane, but also totally ineffective. When the Mayor swept people from the encampment in Cal Anderson park, homeless neighbors were forced to move to other parks across Capitol Hill including Miller. On the other hand, homeless outreach workers from REACH have reported that any time people are offered a spot in a tiny house village, they are happy to accept.
Last November, the People’s Budget movement and my socialist Council office won funding for three new tiny house villages, but so far, the City has only funded establishing one. I cannot understand the reason for the delay. Also, last November, the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) identified six potential locations for new tiny house villages, and the City Council voted to approve the People’s Budget demand to fund three of them. How is it that during a pandemic and economic crisis, 1/4 of the year has passed without creating these new villages, while Seattle’s parks like Miller Playfield fill with people seeking emergency shelter?
I urge you to take the following steps to make humane housing and shelter options available for everyone living unsheltered on Seattle’s parks and sidewalks:
- Immediately open the new tiny house villages and hotel rooms already funded.
- Take every opportunity to use federal funds to increase Seattle’s tiny house villages.
- Increase the Amazon tax to build 20 new tiny house villages as I proposed during the last budget.
Working people will need to continue to fight for a major expansion of affordable social housing and public services funded by increasing the Amazon Tax. The private for-profit real-estate market is incapable of meeting the human need for housing. But as an immediate measure, I urge you to make humane options like tiny house villages available to those living in Miller Playfield and across the city.