Central District residents and activists calling on City Hall to do more than flood the neighborhood with police got a preview of a small part of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new budget proposal over the weekend.
The mayor Friday responded to criticism of the SPD-focused plan to quell gun violence following a wave of shootings and a murder on 25th Ave S with a letter outlining her plan reportedly “doubling” investments in Seattle youth safety programs with some $7 million in spending lined up for the Human Services Department.
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“Youth safety is run through HSD and supports young people and adults who are at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system.,” Durkan writes. “This support comes in the form of violence prevention, intervention and re-entry assistance to foster successful and lasting transitions to adulthood, and to create safer communities.”
The announcement comes as Durkan is set Monday to unveil her 2019-2020 budget with Seattle-style austerity as a major theme. “My budget is also rooted in a difficult reality: After years of significant growth, City revenue is reaching a plateau. So we have to live within our means,” the prepared statements sent to media and set to accompany the official release of the budget proposal read. “Is our economy still strong? You bet it is – with all the opportunity and challenges that a strong economy brings. But as we project City revenue out into the future, there are clouds on the horizon….We are entering a new era of budget realities – and my plan recognizes that we must reprioritize our budget so we can continue to invest in the things that matter most.”
Durkan’s youth safety investment announcement comes after The Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County group posted a “community action alert” calling on the mayor to restore the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative with its outreach workers in South Seattle, West Seattle, and the Central District. Sunday night, the group responded to Durkan’s $7 million commitment with a renewed call to focus the spending on the existing initiative. “The Initiative does not need to be reimagined in theory, it needs to be restored and expanded,” the group’s Fox Hampton writes in an email to Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best. “SYVPI relied on established best practices to create and maintain a comprehensive network of culturally responsive, coordinated support and wrap-around services and outreach including but not limited to: case management, trauma intervention and support, re-entry services, youth and young adult employment and employment training, as well as supplemental programming.”
The full letter from Durkan to Central District residents is below.