A summer “Tent City” at St. Joseph’s in 2016
From SCC Insight
While her call for rent control is featured on her campaign posters, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is pursuing another, smaller solution for housing and affordability for Seattle’s most vulnerable — a bill that would expand the city’s ability to establish additional “tiny house” villages and issue permits for more sanctioned homeless encampments.
Her bill has already been tied up in land-use bureaucracy.
Sawant’s bill adjusts the regulations for permitting encampments, of both the tent- and “tiny home” based varieties. It relaxes the rules for where in the city they could be set up, and increases the maximum permitted number of encampments to 40. But since it is a land-use ordinance, it is subject to State Environmental Policy Act review, meaning that the city needs to fill out the SEPA checklist and either make a Determination of Non-significance (DNS), or write a full-blown SEPA Environmental Impact Statement if there are significant expected impacts.
The appeals have become a popular tool for opposing new development and zoning changes in Seattle and cost filers less than a hundred dollars to begin the process.
At the beginning of August, the Council’s Central Staff issued a DNS for the proposed legislation. And Elizabeth Campbell, who is well-known for her legal challenges to the Council’s land-use actions, once again filed an appeal of the DNS with the Hearing Examiner — according to Sawant, thirteen minutes before the filing deadline. That prevents the Council from moving forward with Sawant’s bill until the Hearing Examiner rules on Campbell’s appeal.
Here’s what Sawant’s proposed bill does: Continue reading
It has been a caveat on nearly every major Seattle effort to combat homelessness. The problem, many contend, is regional. Wednesday, the City of Seattle and King County rolled out the plan to try to address the crisis at a higher level.
County Executive Dow Constantine and Mayor Jenny Durkan announced legislation Wednesday that will create a new regional authority overseeing “a unified response to homelessness.” Continue reading
Community Perceptions of Homelessness
Join internationally renowned artist and sculptor Trimpin and PATH WITH ART artists for an evening of poetry, visual art, and music. Together, they explore their collaborative work Hear & Now, currently on display at the Goethe Pop Up Space in Capitol Hill. This sound sculpture — mobile, tumultuous, kinetic – speaks to the immediacy of the homelessness crisis in Seattle. Those experiencing homelessness often report feeling unseen, unheard. The sculpture screams to be seen and heard, pulls focus, demands your attention. The artists creatively convey the experience of living without a place to call home, with the intention of building empathy across social and cultural boundaries. Hear & Now is thus a metaphor for being in constant transition and attempts to translate the chaos of living in homelessness.
Attendance is free, but space is limited so we kindly ask everyone to register in advance via Eventbrite.
The event is co-presented with PATH WITH ART.
Numbers of “unsheltered homeless” individuals from the county’s annual tally. The full report is below.
The 2019 King County point-in-time count homelessness which reported some dramatic drops in homelessness was met with scrutiny this week in a King County Council briefing.
Throughout the county, the total homeless population decreased by 8% from last year, to 11,199, according to the annual count performed by All Home KC in late January, the data from which should be taken with a grain of salt despite being the most consistent indicator of trends in the region.
According to the 2019 data, the county tally found 17% fewer individuals “experiencing unsheltered homelessness” while Seattle saw an even more dramatic drop of 20% as 3,558 individuals were reported experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the city.
Mayor Jenny Durkan’s strategy to address homelessness issues in Seattle will be increasingly focused on sweeps as the city’s team trained clean out encampments is again set to expand.
In Friday’s announcement, Durkan said Seattle’s Navigation Team will grow by four new hires to 38 employees and begin to respond to clean-up and sweep situations seven days a week.
“This crisis requires urgent action and new steps. We will continue to work for holistic solutions and do more to help bring people inside and connect them with services and housing – and we will continue to invest in the strategies we know have an impact, like enhanced shelter and our Navigation Team,” Durkan said in an announcement of the expanded team. Continue reading
Homelessness and basic human health needs are swamping Seattle’s emergency services. A pilot program for the Seattle Fire Department will create a new team to handle the thousands of 911 calls that need real responses but aren’t emergency medical situations.
“As our city grows, our ability to deliver emergency and non-emergency responses must also grow. We pioneered Medic One, which became the gold standard in emergency health response. Non-emergency cases need a similar response in our growing urban environment,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday about Health One, a new, $500,000 program focused on downtown Seattle and “some adjacent residential neighborhoods” set to launch in coming months to create a SFD team focused on responding to substance abuse, non-emergency medical issues, helping people access needed city services.
In 2018, 42% of SFD’s medical calls were deemed “low acuity” calls — calls where the department dispatched its resources that “generally resulted in no action or a non-emergency transport.” Continue reading
A call from the Seattle City Attorney for a municipal court judge to step down from his position leading the court over “apparent violations of the canons of judicial ethics” is also shining new light on Seattle media and activists who claim they are dedicated to shaping more accountable government in the city.
Pete Holmes and Anita Khandelwal, director of the Department of Public Defense, say in a letter released Wednesday that Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna should step down as presiding judge and recuse himself from criminal cases after “predetermining harsh outcomes for defendants and advertising the sentencings to local media,” Crosscut reports.
The case at the center of the unusual courtroom activities has a Capitol Hill connection. The crime took place last November when an angry man punched a victim without provocation in the crosswalk at Broadway and Pine. The blow sent the victim’s headphones flying and left the shaken man with a swollen lip. It landed the assailant, Francisco Calderon, in jail and set in motion a bizarre episode in Seattle justice with a judge allegedly shaping his proceedings for a television reporter and a political group. Continue reading
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan may have practical reasons to withdraw the nomination of Jason Johnson to head the Human Services Department, the city’s frontline in its homelessness response, but she chose to make the announcement into a political attack on District 3 representative Kshama Sawant.
“Led by Council member Sawant, the City Council has politicized and failed to act on the confirmation of one of the most important roles in Seattle today,” Durkan said, “the person who oversees our City’s day-to-day work to prevent and respond to homelessness.” Continue reading
Thursday’s panel on stage at the Broadway Performance Hall (Image: Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce)
A small crowd gathered in the Broadway Performance Hall Thursday night for a forum on homelessness hosted by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce as the crisis continues to grow.
Representatives from a number of organizations looking to aid people who are homeless, including the REACH program, the Seattle Police Department’s Navigation Team, and the Unsheltered Crisis Response Team, discussed the strategies they’re currently utilizing, while attendees wanted answers as to why an issue that’s been declared a citywide emergency for three years isn’t getting better.
The event was moderated by Egan Orion, newly selected as the chamber’s director and a candidate for Seattle City Council.
With 12,112 homeless people counted in last year’s point-in-time count, the sixth year in a row the numbers increased, King County continues to be the epicenter of the crisis. Washington, the 13th largest state in America, had the fifth largest homeless population of any state, according to federal data.
15 Things CHS heard at the forum
- One of the top concerns of both the panelists and attendees was that organizations don’t have enough money to run their organizations in the most efficient way possible. “Clearly there aren’t enough resources in the city; none of you have enough resources to do your job as well as you would like for it to be done,” one man said. “Clearly the city doesn’t really view it as an emergency. They just want to say it’s an emergency, but they haven’t put the money behind it.” Continue reading
Representatives from the City of Seattle and organizations focused on homelessness will be part of a panel Thursday night at the Broadway Performance Hall:
Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum
The Capitol Hill Homelessness Forum is being organized by the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce to explore “what is being done” and “how you can help” when it comes to homelessness, shelter, and services. Continue reading