A plan to increase Seattle’s shelter capacity by 500 beds is playing out around Capitol Hill and the Central District.
On May 30, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a plan to increase shelter space for people experiencing homelessness by 500 beds within 90 days. The plan, called the Path to 500, uses a multi-pronged approach, including increasing the space at City Hall, constructing tiny home villages, and adding funding for shelter space that had been set to close at the end of May, among other strategies.
The plan is funded, for now, by the proceeds of a $6.3 million sale of city-owned property in South Lake Union. The Seattle Times reported that Durkan plans to find other funding sources to maintain the beds going forward.
The plan is playing out in small ways all across the city, said Meg Olberding, spokesperson for the city’s Human Services Department. She said the city has been working with providers to find ways they can add extra beds. ‘Whatever you can squeeze in,” she said. “Two or three here, 20 there.”
Some of those beds are finding their way to our area of the city including additions at places like 19th Ave’s Peace for the Streets, by Kids from the Streets, and E Madison’s Bailey-Boushay House. Continue reading
Housing Now is a small group on a big mission
While the repealed Employee Hours Tax was not a Housing Now campaign, the Seattle group has learned from mistakes that were made. With new understanding of how things get done — or don’t — in Seattle, the group has vowed to take on the city’s restrictive zoning laws.
“The Comprehensive Plan stems from the Growth Management Act at the state level which requires every city and county to designate growth areas.” Housing Now’s Alex Broner said in a Sunday afternoon meeting earlier this month on 12th Ave across from Seattle University. “They took our already exclusive zoning system in 1994 and codified it into the City Comprehensive Plan.” Continue reading
Even as they voted to repeal it, Seattle City Council members said Tuesday that an employee hours tax is probably the city’s best route forward to creating an alternative, non-regressive revenue stream to combat Seattle’s affordability crisis. The moves begin, now, to come up with a new, stronger tax plan.
District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, who has claimed the “Tax Amazon movement” as a follow-up to the successful $15 minimum wage fight, will be first out of the gates for shaping what comes next, saying Tuesday in council chambers that a “Tax Amazon Movement: Campaign Launch & Organizing Conference” is still happening. Continue reading
UPDATE 2:10 PM: In a vote interrupted by a chanting crowd and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant’s refusal to voice her yay or nay despite threats from President Bruce Harrell that he would close council chambers if outbursts continued, the Seattle City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday to repeal the city’s yet-to-be-implemented, unanimously-passed head tax on Seattle’s largest businesses.
As she seemingly goaded on her supporters in the council chambers, Sawant paused and let the chants swell before finally casting her vote against the repeal. Continue reading
Jimmy Berry, an attendee at Community Care Day in Cal Anderson
The 2018 Community Care Day, held at the Cal Anderson Shelter House across from Central Lutheran Church, brought community members from across Seattle to a central location Friday providing medical services, hot food, hygiene kits and vital information for anyone who needs a little extra help.
Devin Silvernail, the executive director of Be Seattle, told CHS midway through Friday’s event they had already spoken with more than 50 community members and given out all the donated blankets and sleeping bags they had on hand.
“It’s not about solving, it’s about making life easier,” Silvernail said. Continue reading
Seattle and King County’s homeless population is growing and the number of people living here completely unsheltered appears to be increasing even faster. This week, Mayor Jenny Durkan unveiled a three-month plan to try to quickly boost the amount of “bridge housing” and shelter in the city.
If approved by the City Council, Durkan’s proposal would increase the number of bridge housing and shelter units in the next 90 days by 25% and serve an additional 522 people every night, according to the mayor’s office. Continue reading
While Seattle sorts out what part it can pay for of the hundreds of millions of dollars required to reverse the trends, here are the numbers behind King County’s ongoing homelessness emergency:
A total of 12,112 individuals were experiencing homelessness in Seattle/King County on January 26, 2018. Fifty-two percent (52%) of the population was unsheltered, living on the street, or in parks, tents, vehicles, or other places not meant for human habitation. Compared to 2017, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in Seattle/King County increased by 4% (469 persons). The unsheltered population increased by 15% (835 persons).
The report on the 2018 point-in-time count of King County homelessness has been released and — if you’re looking for even the faintest silver lining — at least the problem didn’t grow significantly more challenging in the past year. The Count Us In report shows a smaller than expected 4% total increase from 2017. But the count of
unsheltered homeless in Seattle rose 17%. The full report is below. UPDATE: CHS erroneously described the Seattle population as “living unsheltered” when the report count we referenced was for the total homeless individuals. Sorry for the error and any confusion. Continue reading
If it survives a voter referendum cooked up this week by business and economic groups opposing the plan… And if the spending plan put forward by the City Council somehow can survive mayoral opposition…
How much of the roughly $237 million over five years in head tax revenue will come to Capitol Hill? The short answer is, some, but it’s too early to say exactly. A Seattle City Council resolution, however, gives a starting point. Along with the head tax, the council approved a companion resolution that laid out broad preliminary plans for the windfall of cash.
The resolution is non-binding and could change during the council’s budget process in the fall. Additionally, the Mayor Jenny Durkin’s office has indicated that she opposes the preliminary spending plans, council staff say. Continue reading
(Image: Alex Garland/CHS)
Even with the city’s new head tax on the books, a group of Broadway businesses have decided not to wait for new funding streams to start — and their decision on how best to put the money to use shows how the priorities to the issue can differ in the distance between City Hall and Capitol Hill. The Broadway Business Improvement Area will fund its own outreach worker to help people experiencing homelessness and be available to area merchants when issues arise.
In past years, the city had run a program funding outreach workers to visit areas around downtown to assist the homeless population. That program was then expanded to the International District and then to Capitol Hill. That program, at least the Capitol Hill portion of it, lasted for about two years before closing in March.
At the time, the businesses which make up the BBIA began looking to find a way to allow the program to continue, and now that may be taking shape, said Egan Orion, administrator of the BBIA. Continue reading
The Seattle City Council Monday afternoon chose a smaller, simpler, “reasonable” compromise to create a new tax on the city’s largest companies to help pay for affordable housing and homelessness services.
In a 8-1 vote, the council — some reluctantly — chose a new version of the plan introduced as Amendment 24 during the afternoon full council session with sponsorship from eight of the nine members — all save Capitol Hill’s District 3 rep, Kshama Sawant.
UPDATE: The council unanimously approved the final ordinance modified by approved Amendment 24 with a 9-0 vote.
“I’ve been really struggling with how I feel about this compromise because I’ve been really, really focused on the spending plan and the dire needs of our communities,” co-sponsor of the original legislation Lisa Herbold said before the vote. But she said she was proud the plan for a new tax had “evolved more towards progressivity” and would do things like protect the city’s small businesses. Continue reading