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As it plans next budget, Seattle will have new committee dedicated to homelessness

The Seattle City Council’s first ever committee dedicated strictly to homelessness has been created just as City Hall prepares for the annual budget process.

“As President of the Council, I feel compelled to change our approach to coordinating and communicating to the public about the city’s homelessness response. While we have made progress with our standing committees that oversee the Human Services Department in defining outcomes and reporting and executing a plan, the public demands more. With that in mind, I am proposing a new and more centralized approach through a committee of all nine Councilmembers focused on this issue,” council president Bruce Harrell said in the announcement of the new body.

“We should have the highest standard and, in fact, share a common goal of striving to help all individuals experiencing homelessness transition into permanent housing and providing help to those with mental illness,” Harrell said.

In June, Harrell oversaw the council’s backtracking on a head tax on large companies like Amazon to help the city pay for homelessness services and housing.

Expected to be the clearinghouse for new legislation related to the city’s homelessness crisis, don’t expect the new group to leave any of the council out of the discussion. The new committee will include all nine of Seattle’s council members.

Responsibilities for the new committee include “clearly defining the homelessness problem to aid the Council’s budget deliberations in October-November,” “examination of budgetary allocations and consideration of creative solutions for additional resources,” and exploring “‘outside-the-box’ thinking and strategies other jurisdictions have used such as different safe parking models.”

“We hear from advocates saying that because we don’t have the affordable housing resources, camping should be tolerated,” Harrell said. “Conversely, we hear from property owners and business owners saying they pay a large portion of the city’s taxes and expect the city to enforce the law.”

No schedule has yet been announced for the committee. The Seattle City Council is currently on recess through next week.


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7 thoughts on “As it plans next budget, Seattle will have new committee dedicated to homelessness

  1. I’m skeptical that yet another committee can have a significant impact, but I respect Bruce Harrell and hope that I am wrong.

    The emphasis needs to be in figuring out a way to get the mentally ill into effective treatment….not that this is an easy task. This summer, I have never seen so many disturbed individuals wandering our streets, shouting obscenities and gibberish, etc. If a person broke their leg in a public space, they would get immediate help, but the mentally ill are ignored and left to fend for themselves.

    • Definitely a much bigger challenge. If someone falls down and breaks their leg, it’s pretty unlikely they’d refuse or avoid treatment.

  2. If it is a committee with the full council on it is it still a committee? Sounds more like a way to hold more hearings so they can “communicate to the public” about their failed policies rather than actually doing anything. And the sad thing is that they will have the same activists at their committee meetings cheering them on and then wonder why their “engagement” didn’t help.