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Dear Neighbor,

In my last newsletter I highlighted the budget amendments I submitted, as well as information on the Metropolitan Parks District Spending Plan. This week, I am highlighting the investments we are making to address our homelessness crisis. 

This is all in the context of the recent revenue forecast, which predicts that the City will have significantly less than anticipated revenues for the 2023-2024 budget. Over the biennium, the City is anticipating a net $64 million decrease in Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) revenues, a net decrease of $9.4 million in general fund revenues, and a net decrease of $4.5 million in revenues from the Sweetened Beverage Tax. We will need to further focus our priorities to meet the essential needs of Seattle residents while fighting against austerity budgeting that cuts core city services just when Seattleites may need them most. As a result, we have revised the timeline for City Council to consider the 2023-24 budget. An updated calendar is below. 

In addition to this budget work and in order to make meaningful interventions to address homelessness in specific places in District 6, I continue to hold operational coordination meetings and workgroups with both governmental and non-governmental entities. These meetings are focused on action-oriented solutions and how we can come together to problem solve at the true scale of the crisis.  

If you have questions about any of the content in this newsletter and would like to meet with me directly, please sign up here


Revised Budget Schedule

Due to the downgraded revenue forecast, Council will consider the 2023-2024 budget on a new timeline. The Chair’s Balancing Package will be released on Monday, November 14, the Council will begin voting on the balancing package on Monday, November 21, and the Council’s final Committee vote is scheduled for Monday, November 28. The Council will still hold the oral public comment periods as scheduled: at Public Hearings on Tuesday, November 15 at 5:00 PM, and during Public Comment on Monday, November 21 at 9:30 AM. 

What the Regional Homelessness Authority is Doing Now 

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) has been hard at work the past few months fixing broken systems, building a five year strategic plan, and making progress on innovative pilot initiatives. Partnership for Zero, the initiative to end chronic adult unsheltered homelessness in Downtown and the Chinatown/International District, was recently supercharged by the arrival of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). As part of Partnership for Zero, HUD has helped KCRHA stand up the Housing Command Center to streamline the actions necessary to house people, and develop a By-Name List to track real time data about who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness and what they need to move inside. KCRHA has also partnered with Governor Jay Inslee on a ‘Right of Way Initiative’ to successfully resolve encampments on state property. They’ve been able to house 110 people across four encampments since June, including a longtime encampment in the Northgate neighborhood last weekend. The results are impressive - only one person on the four encampment By-Name-Lists did not move inside. These state-funded encampment resolutions are modeled after the successful resolution of the Woodland Park encampment last year that my office collaborated on with the KCRHA and Mayor Harrell’s office. 

What’s On the Table: Understanding Council's Amendment Proposals

The proposed budget invests $107.9 million for homelessness programs in 2023, a 10.4% reduction from the 2022 budget because one-time funds are ending.  

  • $87.7 million to the King County Regional Authority (more details below) 
  • $20.2 million for City managed homelessness programs, expanded outreach related to encampment removals, and contract oversight. 

I’ve sponsored a handful of homelessness, behavioral health and food insecurity related amendments and signed on cosponsor for quite a few as well. To learn more, you can watch the video linked below. 

To better understand all of Council’s proposed amendments, here is an interactive tool to make Council's 100+ budget amendments more transparent, engaging, and accessible. Take a peek below or watch this 90 second video overview

Homelessness Budget Issue Spotlights

Regional Homelessness Authority Funding Sustainability 

In the ongoing COVID emergency last year, we used one-time dollars to fund emergency shelter, recognizing this was a temporary solution. In the 2022 Adopted Budget, almost half of HSD’s $49.8 million in one-time funding was for homelessness services. Homelessness spending is now being significantly impacted due to the expiration of one-time funds. Because these one-time funds are ending, Mayor Harrell’s proposed support of KCHRA would decrease from $118.3 in 2022 to $87.7 million in 2023. Within the $87.7 million, there are new investments to partially offset these expiring funds: 

  • $2.5 million for 50 new tiny homes 

  • $5 million to stand up and operate new vehicle safe lots, adding 101 new spots for people living in cars or RVs. 

Councilmember Morales put forward an amendment to restore $9.4 million of the expiring one-time funds to protect: 

  • $3.5 million for COVID mitigation in shelters and day centers 

  • $3.9 million for rapid rehousing programs 

  • $1.0 million for diversion  

  • $675,000 for outreach  

  • $421,000 for emergency shelter  

I support this amendment with the recognition we need the KCRHA to provide long-term solutions on a regional level to funding this regional response. Seattle cannot continue to fill this gap forever. 

Geographic Unified Care Teams

Building on the model we created at Ballard Commons and Woodland Park, Mayor Harrell has proposed breaking down departmental silos to create 4-6 geographically based Unified Care Teams - local, multi-departmental teams to address the impacts of unsheltered homelessness. These teams will be a consistent presence in the area, building relationships with community, neighbors both housed and unhoused, outreach teams, and businesses. These teams can deploy coordinated services such as homelessness outreach, trash cleanup, RV pump-outs, geo-cleaning, and homeless encampment removals. 

Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda has proposed keeping this geographically based model and moving its management to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. The goal is to have KCRHA be responsible for this work since they are the entity tasked with stabilizing people experiencing homelessness in place while connecting them with shelter and housing. 

I can only speak to my experience working with the Unified Care Team during the Woodland Park encampment draw down where we moved 89 people into housing who were previously living in the park. During the Woodland Park encampment drawdown, I worked directly with REACH outreach workers to determine the by needs list and placement. Since then, I have been working with Ballard Stakeholders, REACH, and Vehicle Residency Outreach Teams to address homelessness in the Industrial District. To be frank, this has taken more time to set up than expected because of the less defined geographic areas, and the benefit of having more partners. 

I share this background with you as a reference point for these comments regarding geographically based teams and to say the Unified Care Team works hard to fulfill these requests and has done the best, they can with the resources that are available to them. This is partly due to the fact that we only have one of these teams to support the entire City of Seattle.  

When the team and I were helping move people from Woodland Park and into shelter, this was diverting attention and resources from other locations in the City. This isn’t to say other locations weren’t getting the time and attention they need, but if we had geographic-based teams, we would be able to conduct work in multiple districts without overlapping.  

This request is in-line with requests made during my first year in office where I fought to add two outreach workers in D6. Currently, these outreach workers and our partnership with the Ballard Alliance outreach work is how we accomplish this work. This is because I work with the same outreach workers every week and the outreach workers work with the same people experiencing homelessness each week. This model builds trust and understanding with people, which leads to more people coming inside. The challenge I am experiencing today is needing more attention from the Unified Care team for trash mitigation and shelter placement. This is a challenge because anytime I make a request, I am pulling attention from another part of the City. 

The proposal to move this work under KCRHA’s management gives me pause for one reason: KCRHA’s focus as they stand up their organization has been and should stay on creating systemic, long-term solutions. The Unified Care Team’s work may be too hyperlocal of an approach for the KCRHA to take on at this moment in time. This move can be succesful if we create the time needed to reach agreement and ensure KCRHA has the capacity to focus both on downtown and our neighborhoods. 

To me, it is becoming abundantly clear that if we want to be effective at addressing homelessness at the scale of the crisis, and with a human centered response – we need these geographically based teams. No matter what path Council chooses to take, partnering with neighborhoods gives communities opportunities to engage in solutions that fit. 

Historic Housing Investments

Housing is a separate and related topic. I am noting it here because we are not able to graduate people out of shelter without additional Permanent Supportive Housing and affordable housing units. Without graduating people out of shelter, our shelters fill to capacity and limit our ability to bring people off the streets. 

As we continue to face a housing crisis, we should be examining every aspect of our permitting processes and land use code to ensure that City is not creating unnecessary barriers to housing development. We know people who can afford higher rents are only able to find places to live that are cheaper, meaning people who are on a tight budget or exiting homelessness have an even harder time finding a place to live. A study conducted by UW has showed that, although housing does not solve homelessness completely, it does reduce homelessness fivefold. When Seattle creates the housing to meet our needs, we will be addressing the majority of of people who are experiencing homelessness, which will allow us to focus on the people who are chronically unhoused. To help accomplish this we are adding permitting staff to review desks along with reforms and auditing our permitting processes. 

Last year, we funded $194 million in affordable housing investments, including over $87 million for Rapid Housing Acquisition. Rapid Acquisition funding allowed the city to quickly purchase existing buildings and bring new units of affordable housing online faster than our traditional development projects. Over the last two years, we’ve been able to bring over 550 new affordable housing units online in a matter of months instead of years. For example, we were able to purchase the Dockside Apartments at Green Lake in under 60 days to provide 92 units of workforce and Permanent Supportive Housing. 

As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, The Office of Housing’s (OH’s) proposed budget has reached a remarkable milestone, now at almost a quarter of a billion dollars – the highest in City history. This funding includes: 

  • $228 million for multifamily housing projects (both rapid acquisition and development) 

  • $17 million for homeownership, sustainability, and weatherization 

  • $2.6 million to increase service funding for newly-developed Permanent Supportive Housing projects. 

  • $100,000 for Labateyah House’s pre-development work I advocated to include 

This is the second year we have met the McKinsey Report benchmark of investing $200 million per year and we must keep up this level of funding to build and buy our way out of the affordable housing deficit. 

What's Next

Because of the negative revenue forecast, the Chair’s Balancing Package will now be released on Monday, November 14. I will send out another newsletter update as we comb through this proposed budget for a deep dive into what made it into the budget and what didn't.

Hearing From You

As I have all year, I met with District 6 residents and stakeholders throughout the budget process to ensure that my budget work reflected your priorities as a district, and that we built a budget that works for you. I am continuing to meet with residents as the budget season wraps up. If you would like to meet with me directly, please sign up here.  

Subscribe to My Newsletter

If this email was forwarded to you by a friend, I encourage you to sign-up for my newsletter! I send out a regular newsletter about the happenings in our district, updates from City Hall, and progress reports on the work we are doing to make life better for all of us in Seattle.

To stay up to date, sign up for my newsletter here!

Videos on My Website

Every Monday morning, I update the City Council on issues in District 6 and the work my office is doing that week. These updates are a helpful way to follow along with our work. I also post these videos weekly on my website and social media. You can view the latest updates and past videos on my website here.
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