Capitol Hill things to watch in Seattle budget ‘balancing package’ include homelessness outreach, ‘Community Health Engagement Location’ — UPDATE

Some big decisions were made Tuesday across the United States. Wednesday in City Council chambers will bring some big decisions for Seattle as representatives shake out the final roster of additions, tweaks, and cuts to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s 2019-2020 budget proposal.

Included in the “green sheet” decision day is a proposal for the money sought by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and business community to support a homeless outreach worker in the neighborhood and some spends championed by District 3 rep Kshama Sawant including a bid to add $440,000 in 2019 to help finalize a decision on a location for a “Community Health Engagement Location” — a long-sought “safe consumption” site proponents say would help address problems with addiction and health in the city.

UPDATE: The proposed balancing package has been released including good news for the Capitol Hill homelessness outreach request and progress on a Seattle “CHEL”:

Original report: Here’s how Wednesday’s “balancing package” will play out thanks to Seattle City Council Insight:

Wednesday morning, during a meeting of the Budget Committee, budget chair Sally Bagshaw will unveil her “balancing package” of changes to the Mayor’s budget based on the “green sheet” proposals from the nine Council members that they discussed last week. Since there were far more green sheets proposing additional expenditures than they have money to spend, only a small fraction of the proposals will make it into the balancing package, with preference for those that had broad support.

“Next week, Council members will have the opportunity to propose additional changes, but in order to be considered a proposal will need to pay for itself, either through additional revenues or a cut to another item,” SCCI reports.

The biggest issue for Capitol Hill business and merchant constituents will be watching to see if Bagshaw includes GS 15-2-A-1-2019, a proposal from Bruce Harrell that would provide an additional $55,000 that would be added to $200,000 already allocated by the mayor’s office to support a homelessness outreach worker in three neighborhoods — the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill:

This green sheet would add $55,000 GF in 2019 and $55,000 GF in 2020 to the Human Services Department (HSD) to fund homelessness outreach programming such as the Downtown Seattle Association’s Metropolitan Improvement District Outreach. The funding would augment $200,000 GF in 2019 and $200,000 GF in 2020 contained in the Proposed Budget for three full-time, neighborhood-based homeless outreach workers to serve Chinatown-International District/Little Saigon, Capitol Hill and First Hill; each of the three Business Improvement Areas for these neighborhoods are raising funds to complete the total annual program budget ($275,000).

Lorena González is not a fan of the proposed spending on the outreach program championed by business interests. She has proposed a green sheet that would restrict the mayor’s funding until a larger assessment is completed:

“None of the money appropriated in the 2019 budget for the Human Services Department (HSD) may be spent for the MID Outreach program until HSD files a report with the City Clerk that describes the following: 1. The City’s homelessness outreach program strategy; 2. Whether and how geographic parity is involved with the strategy; 3. Data that justifies further geographically-focused engagement in the proposed MID Outreach operational areas and not in other areas; and 4. An assessment of area BIA concerns that may be addressed through homelessness outreach services.”

Homelessness and affordability are likely to be large components of Bagshaw’s package of budget updates. One big line item could end up being $6 million across the next two years to pay for a new tent shelter that could provide space for dozens of people:

This green sheet would add $4,000,000 GF in 2019 and $2,000,000 GF in 2020 to the Human Services Department for a tent shelter pilot program for the homeless. This program would be modeled after A Bridge Home in Los Angeles, which involves a large canopy, tent-like structure for 75 homeless people with enhanced services, such as showers, storage lockers, restrooms, laundry, open green space, single beds and beds for couples with separated partitions, a covered eating area and a pet area. Programming also includes case management, mental health services and counseling.

CHS reported earlier on the lack of support for Council member Sawant’s affordable housing proposals for the budget balancing package. She has stronger support for a few other proposals including money for SHARE shelter beds and a proposal for a study on homelessness services and the LGBTQ community.

A bigger leap might be her call for the mayor’s office to deliver a CHEL — Community Health Engagement Location — report on the “identification of potential fixed-mobile CHEL site locations and timeline for setup and operations” by March 1st–

The Council appropriated $1,300,000 in 2018 to Finance General to open and operate a CHEL; the City Budget Office has indicated that the funding is anticipated to remain unspent in 2018, and that these appropriations will carry-forward to 2019 for the same purpose, subject to the Council’s approval through future budget legislation. The Executive reported to the Health, Housing, Energy and Workers’ Rights Committee on June 7, 2018, that no City-owned properties are viable or appropriate for siting a CHEL, and that, furthermore, King County has indicated that none of its properties located within the city are available for consideration. For these reasons, the Executive is pursuing a fixed-mobile site CHEL model. A mobile-fixed site CHEL would render services through a modified medical van for supervised consumption and an adjoining service area providing the other services.

A separate proposal from Council member Rob Johnson would add another $440,000 to the budget “for one-time set up costs to open a mobile-fixed site” CHEL.

In June, CHS reported on the shift in Seattle’s plans for a safe consumption facility to a model utilizing a “community health engagement” van. Capitol Hill has repeatedly been raised as a possible daily location for the van but a community partner in the neighborhood to host the vehicle would need to step forward.

CHS reported in October on Mayor Durkan’s 2019-2020 budget proposal, the first budget submitted under her administration, and its Seattle-style austerity with little or no growth and belt tightening across much of City Hall to make way for increased hiring and spending for core services like Seattle Police and Seattle Fire.


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