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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.
Moore, who serves as city council member in Clyde Hill, said Seattle faces tough times ahead.
Even still, Moore said the cities east of Seattle — like Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond — are becoming more attractive.
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.”