Today, Mayor Ed Murray and Executive Dow Constantine announced that the City of Seattle has decided not to pursue a Seattle-only levy to reduce homelessness this year, and will instead work with King County on a 2018 ballot measure. Mayor Murray noted in an interview with the Seattle Times that developing a proposal for next year will give the city and county more time to make headway on reforming their homeless-services systems.
Today’s announcement is a positive step that reflects our advocacy over the past six months for a coordinated approach aligned with best practices. It is also consistent with principles approved by the Chamber board, which state that the City and County should work together to:
- Develop and invest in a person-centered crisis response system, giving highest priority to the health and safety of families with small children first, and then those who have the longest histories of homelessness and the greatest barriers to housing stability.
- Focus on data, carefully measuring which services are actually moving people from the street and into housing.
- Contract for performance, requiring organizations who receive taxpayer dollars to achieve measurable outcomes.
- Embrace the “housing first” philosophy, which moves people into housing quickly and without barriers to entry, while protecting the most vulnerable.
- Guarantee that any additional system funding is based on transitional need or on the provision of direct treatment services, and would only be supported after careful review of how existing funding would be budgeted.
We commend Mayor Murray and Executive Constantine for their decision to work together towards larger system changes based on the reports they and United Way commissioned last fall. These reports provide expert guidance on how we can transition people living on our streets into stable housing and ultimately out of homelessness.
The Chamber will continue to advocate for the above principles and stress the importance of an aligned, accountable approach. Our region’s long-term success depends on ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and to access a thriving quality of life.