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Appeals court decision snuffs last hope for Compassion Seattle vote

The state Court of Appeals has upheld a King County judge’s decision disqualifying the Compassion Seattle initiative from the November ballot.

In the appeals court ruling, a three-judge panel agreed with last week’s decision by King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer that threw a monkey wrench in the downtown chamber-backed plan to change the city charter to require Seattle provide housing, guarantee 12% of the city’s general fund for homelessness and human services, and crack down on encampments by requiring sweeps and clearances of public spaces.

Lawyers for the ACLU representing the organization,the Transit Riders Union, and the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness sued to remove Compassion Seattle from the ballot, arguing that the vote on Charter Amendment 29 would be “an illegal use of a local ballot initiative and violates state laws that mandate how local governments make and carry out plans for addressing homelessness” that went “beyond the scope of Seattle’s initiative powers.”

The campaign backing the measure is now urging supporters to focus on the upcoming election. Mayoral candidate Lorena González had opposed the measure as an “unfunded mandate.” Her opponent Bruce Harrell had said he backed the initiative and this week promised supporters he would implement certain elements of the proposal.

“I just think that there has to be consequences for that kind of action because many people — and I’m very close to the world of people struggling with drug and alcohol treatment, people that have challenges — many of them are in denial. Many of them do not know what they need. They just do not.” Harrell said in an announcement of his homelessness plan Thursday, Publicola reports.

 

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Micah
Micah
1 month ago

I’m curious if anyone else out there is as sick of filthy encampments, human waste, needles, junkies, trash, daily robberies, nightly window smashes, blatant theft in stores, assaults, etc. as I am? Seattle people are funny not funny. Somehow those of us who work at a job, pay our bills, pay taxes, and generally contribute are made to feel like assholes if we don’t bow down to this bullshit. Some of the idiots running for local office (Gonzales, Oliver, and Thomas-Kennedy) like to pretend this is all related to lack of affordable housing and capitalism. Its not. Its about heroin, meth addiction, & mental illness, and no law enforcement. I am so over all of this.

Scandinavian
Scandinavian
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

People who have lived in Seattle long enough to understand that it is poor leadership and a failed ideological experiment that created the drug addict encampment crisis are over it. People that just moved here or have something to gain from the dystopian status quo drink the koolaid about “a housing and affordability crisis”. Unfortunately the influx of new people exceeds those with lived experience in Seattle and every election we double down on stupid and vote for the most extreme candidates. Tribal identity at the federal level also shapes this outcome. Candidates like Gonzales and Sawant that led Seattle to its current dystopian state have nothing to run on so they campaign against national politics. “Trump blah blah blah, abortion rights blah blah blah”.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

Where do you propose 11,000 human beings with no permanent shelter disappear to?

This problem is more massive than complainers like yourself realize. The city and county have been making progress recently, really good progress in fact, but it’s not enough to make a dent in the problem.

If you want it fixed quicker, we need to institute sweeping changes at the local, state and national level. Seattle can’t do this alone.

If you want it fixed slower or not at all, then by all means vote for trash initiatives like Compassion Seattle that are blatant civil rights violations or for people like Bruce Harrell, who thinks the homeless problem will be magically fixed by the private sector. Like some bizarro form of tickle-down economics I think?

And by all means, continue to go onto neighborhood blogs and complain about a problem that everyone knows exists and then go right into a sensationalist narrative that makes it clear that you don’t have a realistic grasp of the problem.

Privilege
Privilege
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

Yes, everyone who disagrees with your approach to the issue is totally fine with everything you describe, and in fact welcomes it and enjoys it and revels in it. Because we live in an entirely black and white world, where you either support everything 100% or you’re in complete opposition. There is no common ground or nuance in any of this.

Anyway, the situation is bad, and we can all agree it’s bad but we can disagree on how to try to address it.

The majority of the unhoused are there due to housing costs (a minority are suffering from mental illness or just dig the lifestyle or something), and our capitalistic system prioritizes short term profiteering over long-term planning, which leads to things like housing shortages driving up costs and pushing people into homelessness. I’m not sure there’s any controversy in any of those statements or at least there shouldn’t be. But I guess in your world, believing those to be true means we’re totally into being robbed or walking through poop.

Nandor
Nandor
1 month ago
Reply to  Privilege

Except that what you are saying is a half truth. While it is true that only around 40% or so of *all* homeless people have a serious mental illness and/or a substance abuse problem, most of homeless people are also not tenting in city parks- the chronically homeless only represent about 20% of the overall homeless population- the remainder that may be in transitional housing, couch surfing, doubled up with others etc. do need assistance, but are not the problem that we are all looking at every day on our streets. That last 20% is – and they have mental health and substance abuse rates of 80+%…… Until we face up to the reality and that treatment programs, voluntary or not, are necessary as to make any difference we will continue to see the problem grow.

DataCruncher
DataCruncher
1 month ago
Reply to  Nandor

While it is true that only around 40% or so of *all* homeless people have a serious mental illness and/or a substance abuse problem, most of homeless people are also not tenting in city parks- the chronically homeless only represent about 20% of the overall homeless population …

As mentioned in my earlier reply to Prvilege, according to HUD figures, the “Severely Mentally Ill” or those with “Chronic Substance Abuse” issues accounted for 66.1% of the Seattle-King County homeless population in 2020.

According to the same report, the “unsheltered” (i.e. people living on the streets, in parks, etc.) numbered 5,578 or 47.5% of the total. The remainder were in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

Of the 3,355 people classified by HUD as “chronically homeless” 1,975 (58.9%) were “unsheltered”.

DataCruncher
DataCruncher
1 month ago
Reply to  Privilege

The majority of the unhoused are there due to housing costs (a minority are suffering from mental illness or just dig the lifestyle or something) …

According to the “HUD 2020 Continuum of Care Homeless Assistance Programs Homeless Populations and Subpopulations” for Seattle and King County there were 11,751 homeless persons in Seattle and King County on the survey date in 2020.

Within that population the “Severely Mentally Ill” numbered 4,030 while those with “Chronic Substance Abuse” numbered 3,731. HUD apparently treated these categories as mutually exclusive. That is to say a person was counted in one category but not both.

Thus, the combined total is 7,761 or 66.1% of the total homeless population. HUD’s figues don’t include an “unhoused … due to housing costs” category.

Buzzin’
Buzzin’
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

Well said. Until we address the drug problem, nothing gets done. The working people are frustrated and the drug addicts live in filth with rats. You captured the situation well.

EdwardEverett
EdwardEverett
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

Totally agree.

JonC
JonC
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

If it’s all about addiction and mental illness, any recovery or rehabilitation plan will rely on stable housing. Let’s build.

Ballardite
Ballardite
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah

Agree with your frustration – we cannot continue down the same path of blaming capitalism to excuse inaction and accountability.

Bigcrouton
Bigcrouton
1 month ago

If Gonzalez does not match Harrell’s call to sweep homeless encampments, I predict she will lose in a landslide. Seattle needs to spend the money to build dorms for the homeless, and do it quickly, but I am sick of seeing tents in city parks.

Caphiller
Caphiller
1 month ago
Reply to  Bigcrouton

I wish I were as optimistic as you are on Harrell’s chances and Seattle voters’ views on tents in parks. I frequently see “activists” handing out food and free tents and supplies to the campers around Capitol Hill. Seems there’s plenty of tolerance for the campers and the accompanying chaos.

CD Rez
CD Rez
1 month ago

Everyone is exhausted with the situation. The zombies in the tents need to go. I saw a guy sitting on the curb in the middle of the day shooting dope into his foot sitting on Dearborn. Not a care in the world about who saw. People shooting heroin on 3rd avenue in broad daylight. It’s out of control and it has nothing to do with housing affordability.

Nandor
Nandor
1 month ago
Reply to  CD Rez

You are not the only one who’s seen… the last time I went to Uwajimaya there was a woman sitting right across from the store shooting up on the corner, also mid day, with plenty of people around…. This person may have been actively killing themself right there and you know the only thing you can do is walk on by and not stare. No apartment was going to help her do anything more than perhaps kill herself more privately. The only thing that could really help her was treatment and we still, after everything this city is enduring, don’t seem to have the civic will to stand up and admit that some people cannot help themselves.

Scandinavian
Scandinavian
1 month ago
Reply to  Nandor

The homeless encampment crisis is a drug crisis not a housing crisis. Until city’s “progressive” leadership and the people that vote them into office pull theirs heads out of their asses, the problem will only get worse.