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帐篷排在西雅图市中心的一条街上。(吉奎尔照片/约翰·库克)

In an effort to overhaul Seattle’s approach to its homeless crisis, a coalition of downtown business leaders and non-profit representatives on Thursday introduced a citywide ballot measure to force the city to fund a battery of services and shelters for thousands of the town’s unsheltered residents.

Called the “Compassion Seattle” charter amendment, the initiative also would require the city to keep “parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces and sidewalks and streets clear of encampments” once the mandated housing, drug, and mental health services are in place.

如果西雅图选民批准,修正案基本上绕过了市议会,并首次为西雅图有时令人困惑、竞争和分散的无家可归服务和项目增加了具体的基准和责任。

例如,根据拟议的改革,该市将在修正案2022年1月开始日期后一年内,法律要求该市再提供2000套紧急和永久住房。

此外,它还规定西雅图提供行为健康计划和住房的机会。根据《宪章》修正案,住房可包括“加强避难所、小房子、旅馆旅馆客房、其他形式的非聚集性紧急或永久性住房”

Among the measure’s backers are Erin Goodman, CEO of theSODO Business Improvement Area; Lisa Daugaard, director of thePublic Defender Association;GordonMcHenry Jr,总裁兼首席执行官United Way King County; Paul Lambros, CEO ofPlymouth Housing;StevenWoolworth,首席执行官Evergreen Treatment Services; Derek Belgrade, the deputy director ofChief Seattle Club; and Jon Scholes, CEO of theDowntown Seattle Association.

Daugaard said the ballot measure changes the city’s flawed priorities when it comes to helping the homeless population. “This framework offers the promise of actually prioritizing the people who have been left out for so long and making a plan that will reach and sustain them with the assistance they welcome.”

Added United Way’s McHenry, “We know the need for emergency housing in our region is vast, so the idea of opening 2,000 housing units in conjunction with behavioral health services is something we have long supported. However, we know from previous experience that without the resources, people will remain on the streets.”

对于西雅图市中心的企业主,特别是那些希望员工今年夏天回到市中心办公室的人来说,宪章修正案的消息受到欢迎。

在基奎尔公民对话活动上周,西雅图无家可归危机是社区领导人——包括麦克亨利——同意需要做更多工作的关键议题。

“There are too many employers whose employees are afraid to come back to work downtown because their bus stop is not safe,” said former Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire, who now leads Challenge Seattle, a group whose members include the CEOs of large Seattle companies such as Zillow Group, Starbucks and Nordstrom.

Calling homelessness an “absolute crisis,” Gregoire cited successful efforts in cities like San Diego where health services, housing, and other programs helped reduce chronic homelessness.

“We can’t afford to wait another day,” she said. “Human lives are being lost. Our economy is being held back. Our communities are not feeling safe and secure.”

西雅图市中心风险投资公司飞鱼合作伙伴的共同创始人兼管理合伙人希瑟·雷德曼说,参与这项倡议的人士对她表示鼓舞。

“It will ensure that we finally address the needs of those in our community experiencing homelessness and those experiencing homelessness who also have not been able to access needed help with mental health or behavioral health issues,” Redman said.

同情西雅图的发射正值关键me as Seattle companies weigh their return-to-work strategies. Even before the pandemic, many CEOs were tiring of the crime and squalor that plagues downtown, with a deadly January 2020 shooting抨击许多科技雇主. 一些公司已经考虑离开西雅图市中心,讨论只因这场流行病而加速。

Seattle startup Syndio recently decided not to renew its lease at its Pioneer Square headquarters, in part due to break-ins and safety concerns raised by employees. The 50-person company, which wants to stay in the city limits of Seattle, is currently evaluating where it plans to place its offices, including locations outside of Seattle.

西雅图另一家初创公司AdLightning去年3月离开位于直布罗陀大楼的总部,8月退出租赁。该公司目前正在远程办公,首席执行官斯科特•摩尔(Scott Moore)表示,他将致力于在某个时候建立另一个办公室。但当他这么做的时候,摩尔说办公室不会在西雅图市中心。

“此时,负面因素大于好处,”他说。“去年由于犯罪、交通拥堵和费用以及西雅图市议会的商业不友好态度,在大流行之前,这一点是微不足道的。现在,无家可归的问题变得更严重了。”

Moore, who serves as city council member in Clyde Hill, said Seattle faces tough times ahead.

“在市中心核心区有一个可信、持久的犯罪和无家可归解决方案之前,我认为西雅图将很难吸引科技公司回来,”他说。“我也认为西雅图政府领导人需要发出明确信号,希望企业能回到市中心。”

Even still, Moore said the cities east of Seattle — like Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond — are becoming more attractive.

“坦白地说,随着东部地区办公空间、住宅和交通投资的爆炸式增长,西雅图在区域竞争力日益增强,”他说。

亚马逊就在这周announcedthat employees will start returning to its headquarters, saying in a memo to staff that it plans to “return to an office-centric culture as our baseline.” However, downtown Seattle’s largest employer isboosting its presencein nearby Bellevue, Wash., with plans to employ 25,000 people there.

The initiative’s backers also expect to gather support from the 80,000 people currently living downtown — an area that became one of the city’s fastest-growing residential neighborhoods over the past decade.

However, some homeless advocates said the measure simply criminalizes homelessness.

Currently, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office estimates that among Seattle’s 11,000 homeless, approximately 2,000 people are camping in the downtown corridor. To qualify for the ballot, the amendment’s backers must collect 33,000 valid Seattle voter signatures by the middle of June. Once on the ballot, it would need a simple majority approval to become city policy.

如果它符合投票资格,同情西雅图倡议很可能成为即将到来的市长竞选的关键政策点。消息人士说,这项措施是专门写给2019年美国最高法院的Martin v. Boisedecision in mind.

In that landmark homeless rights ruling, the court ruled that municipalities cannot arrest people for sleeping outdoors when no shelter is available in a city. The measure’s provisions for shelter and services are an effort to address the stipulations of that ruling. Among its additional provisions:

  • The City must establish a Human Services Fund of at least 12% of the City’s annual general fund revenues.
  • Mandates that Seattle “identify and address factors known to drive the overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color among those experiencing chronic homelessness.”
  • 要求西雅图在宣布的与无家可归有关的民事紧急情况下,根据需要放弃规范要求,加快应急和永久住房的生产;免除许可费;并使所有与项目有关的许可“排在第一位”;除其他加快建设的规定外。

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