Murray scraps plan for Seattle homelessness levy

Though I-126 has been scrapped, the survey that shaped some of the ways in which its revenues would have been deployed provided new insights into homelessness in Seattle

Though I-126 has been scrapped, the survey that shaped some of the ways in which its revenues would have been deployed provided new insights into homelessness in Seattle

I-126, Seattle’s proposed $275 million homelessness levy, is not going to happen.

In one of the fastest political reversals so far in 2017, Mayor Ed Murray said that despite “passionate support,” a campaign to create a new Seattle property tax to support homelessness services has been put on ice just days after its launch.

Murray joined King County Executive Dow Constantine Monday to announce a proposed county ballot measure to boost the county sales tax to pay for new shelters, services, and housing. Continue reading

Inside I-126, Seattle’s $275M homelessness levy: shelter, health, housing

Homeless people in Seattle may be getting more assistance in the form of programs funded by a $275 million property tax levy proposed by Mayor Ed Murray — if voters agree. The money is substantial, and the proposed spending in some ways aligns with what the homeless themselves say they could use the most.

Signature gathering is underway to put I-126 on the August ballot. “The Seattle skyline visible from this location is a symbol the city’s economic strength and growth, but from the exact same vantage point you can see the people and community that that same progress has left behind and made more vulnerable,” Downtown Emergency Service Center director Daniel Malone who co-chaired the advisory committee that developed the measure said about the start of the effort. “We all know that the problem of homelessness has been growing rapidly. We need to step and do more to help the people suffering on our streets, and this carefully considered measure will do that.”

The measure would last five years and nearly double what the city currently spends on aid to homeless people. The levy will cost about 27 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value for homeowners. For the city’s median homeowner — Zillow puts that at a $513,200 home — that would mean $138.51 per year. Continue reading

Police say no signs of foul play after body found in Colonnade Park

Police say there were no signs of foul play after a body was found in the Colonnade Park beneath I-5 on the slope between Capitol Hill and Eastlake Wednesday morning.

According to the Seattle Police Department, a death investigation was conducted after the body was found next to the park’s off-leash dog area but there was no immediate evidence of a crime.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office will investigate the cause of death and identification of the person found.

The area is well known for campers and drug use and police are often called to the park.

Last week, Seattle’s new homeless Navigation Team begins a clean-up effort with a sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill and around the area of the park.

Mayor Ed Murray announced during his State of the City speech earlier this week a proposal for a new $55 million levy to help the city pay for its homelessness services. The city’s emergency operations center has also been opened to help direct resources needed to remove camps and assist homeless people with finding shelter.

King County officials and task force members, meanwhile, are working with the community to identify potential locations — one in Seattle, and one outside the city — for new safe consumption sites to stem the tide of overdoses that would give drug users a place to use that is supervised and can provide resources like clean needles.

Seattle’s State of the City 2017: $55M homelessness levy, soda tax for schools, Trump immigration push-back

At Northgate’s Idris Mosque Tuesday morning, Mayor Ed Murray gave his 2017 State of the City address, announcing plans to increase investments to further address homelessness and education disparities, and to continue to support immigrants and refugees in Seattle. Included in the speech were plans to activate a city emergency system usually reserved for bad weather and protests to provide more resources for helping the area’s homeless, a proposal for a $55 million property levy to fund homelessness services, and the floating of a possible Seattle soda tax to help fund schools. Video and the full text of Murray’s speech is below.

For Seattle, the biggest news of the speech will likely be the homeless levy proposal. The plan will go to city voters this August to ask them to approve an increase in the commercial and residential property tax of around $13 per month for the median household, according to the mayor’s office. Murray said that a coalition including entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, Downtown Emergency Services Center executive director Daniel Malone, and City Council members Debora Juarez and Sally Bagshaw will lead an advisory group to create the funding package for the proposal.

The mayor also announced a new offensive to push back on Trump administration immigration policies. Murray said the city will send Freedom of Information Act requests to multiple federal departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, in response to President Donald Trump’s actions affecting immigrants and refugees. Murray is seeking to determine potential enforcement actions the federal government may take against Seattle and other sanctuary cities and details about changes to travel and immigration policy.

“We believe that the rule of law is on our side,” Murray said, adding that Seattle will take legal action if the federal departments do not provide timely responses.

Murray’s State of the City announcements:

Murray said he also plans to meet with other regional mayors to about remaining safe sanctuary cities.

“Remaining open to all is a fundamental value of the city,” Murray said. “Seattle is a great city because of immigrants and refugees.” Continue reading

Seattle homeless Navigation Team begins clean-up with sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

There have been clean-ups of the area beneath Interstate 5 between Capitol Hill and Eastlake before. But officials hope this week’s sweeps can be part of a longer term change of what an East Precinct officer once described as a “no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases.”

In the first official deployment of the city’s new Navigation Team including outreach workers and police, the areas along and under I-5 popular with campers in the city’s core are being cleared out.

Here is what KOMO saw during the start of the clean-up in a half-mile stretch near the Colonnade Park between lower Capitol Hill and Eastlake:

Police and safety vest clad workers started pulling apart a bunker underneath I-5 early Tuesday. Mixed in with the bottles filled with urine were piles of blankets, rats and a smattering of personal belongings. Continue reading

City selects 12th/Weller site for Seattle homeless Navigation Center

The Pearl S. Warren Building (Image: Seattle Indian Services Commission)

The Pearl S. Warren Building (Image: Seattle Indian Services Commission)

The City of Seattle announced Monday morning a new team of homeless outreach workers “paired with specially trained Seattle Police Department personnel” and a planned home for its new Navigation Center on 12th Ave S at Weller in the Pearl Warren Building, a few blocks south of Jackson and just blocks from the camping area known as The Jungle:

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of a new Navigation Team, comprised of outreach workers paired with specially trained Seattle Police Department (SPD) personnel, who will work to connect unsheltered people to housing and critical resources, while helping address pervasive challenges around the issue of homelessness in Seattle. The team will immediately begin working with unsheltered people who have urgent and acute unmet needs, and will serve as the primary access point for people to be served by the Navigation Center.

In the announcement, Murray’s office did not say when the new center will open but that that renovations are “underway. The Seattle Human Services Department and the Downtown Emergency Service Center will set up temporary sites in the meantime “that will provide services similar to those that will be available at the Navigation Center” including “assessments and referrals for housing, mental and physical health services.” Continue reading

City of Seattle wants feedback on rules for clearing homeless camps

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A plan that is part humanitarian, part legal rear end covering is moving forward to formalize how the City of Seattle responds to homeless encampments in public areas where camping is not allowed.

This week, the mayor’s office released proposals for the clean-up rules and is asking for public comment:

In 2016, Mayor Murray formed a Task Force on Unsanctioned Encampment Cleanup Protocols to make recommendations on changing the encampment removal rules. In October 2016, he announced the Bridging the Gap to Pathways Home plan. This plan increases short-term support to people living without homes while longer-term strategies are reorganized. A part of the Bridging the Gap plan is rewriting the rules for removing encampments. Compared to the existing rules, the new rules:

  • Identify specific criteria for prioritizing the removal of encampments.
  • Require the offer of a shelter alternative in order to remove many encampments.
  • Require the City to deliver materials it stores from encampments to their owners. Continue reading

Count Us In brings new approach to counting Seattle, King County’s homeless

Officials and teams of volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County early Friday morning in the area’s annual count of homeless people living on its streets. But a new approach means results of the survey won’t be available until spring.

Now known as Count Us In and organized by the county’s All Home coalition, Friday’s count featured 1,000 volunteers and 150 paid team guides, “who had experienced homelessness themselves and were key to our ability to find people sleeping outdoors,” organizers said. Continue reading

Seattle homelessness update: progress on trash, camp rules but not much else

Homeless

By Brandon Gustafson, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

The mayor’s homelessness czar gave an update this week on progress made in Seattle’s plans to do more than offer shelter to homeless people  — there wasn’t much to talk about beyond garbage and how best to move campers from spot to spot.

“We have a crisis that we need to address. … We have 3,000 people in the city of Seattle who are sleeping in cars, sleeping in doorways, sleeping in tents outside. Unacceptable,” George Scarola, director of homelessness for the mayor’s office told the Seattle City Council’s Human Services and Public Health Committee.

“The main part is to provide people with 24-hour shelter where they can store their possessions. … We’re setting those kinds of shelters up as we speak.”

Wednesday, Scarola ticked through updates on the the “interim action plan” from Mayor Ed Murray’s office to address new alternatives to homeless encampments in Seattle. Rules about the moving and removal of homeless camping areas are changing. Continue reading

San Francisco and Seattle mayors compare notes on homelessness — ‘We did not plan to grow affordably’

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-3-53-37-pmEach individual needs a different approach when it comes to homelessness, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee agree.

The two mayors discussed what they’re doing about West Coast homelessness during a public forum Wednesday at Seattle University. journalist Joni Balter and Seattle University master of public administration director Larry Hubbell directed the discussion that covered challenges in funding, effectiveness of current and past services and new approaches taken in Washington and California. Though one theme seemed to echo throughout each topic: taking a holistic approach.

“It’s important to talk about how we got here, not just what we do now,” Mayor Murray said. “We did not plan to grow affordably, which is why we’re in this crisis.” Continue reading