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Dear Neighbors,

I want to take a minute in the middle of our budget process to provide a couple of updates on some new resources. This month, my office released a report on COVID-era trends in homelessness policy which I encourage all parties interested in the subject to take a look at. This data can inform budget priorities to break through the inertia and confront the biggest crisis facing Seattle head on.

Also, government is only as effective as its feedback loops. One of the most rewarding roles of serving on the Council is working with the Office of the City Auditor to find efficiencies to better serve the public. In collaboration with the Council, the Auditor recently created a new interactive dashboard for the public to track the compliance of executive departments with audit recommendations. More information on both of these updates below.

Report on COVID-era Homelessness Trends

When I hold office hours with constituents or am otherwise out in the community, the questions I get most frequently are related to homelessness. Many other people write my office to say they have noticed the substantial increase in people living without shelter during the Covid-19 pandemic, and want to know the reasons why.

In an effort to better serve all my constituents, both housed and unhoused, my office published a report this month examining the impact of Covid-19 on our shelter system. The report assesses the impact of Covid-era constraints and reforms on our homelessness housing system, as well as the transition from Navigation Team to HOPE Team. Data shows the transition in teams did not materially affect the City’s rate of placing people into shelter, and the most determinative factor in the success of either team was the availability of shelter placements to offer.

The report also demonstrates the devastating impact the pandemic has had on our shelter system. The HOPE Team is receiving 2.5 times more requests for access to shelter than can be accommodated, leaving people with no choice but to continue living in a tent. That is why I have spent the last year and a half laser-focused on creating additional units of emergency shelter. As the report indicates, this fall through to early winter of 2022 will see a dramatic increase in housing and shelter resources. These resources are long overdue and will make a significant difference.

Read the Report

Auditor Recommendations Dashboard

The Office of the City Auditor is part of the legislative branch of government, along with the City Council. One of the cornerstone responsibilities of any legislature is oversight of the delivery of executive services, and performance auditing is one of the strongest tools the Council has to ensure that accountability. My office has requested several audits over the last several months, and as they are completed I look forward to sharing the results in future updates.

Every audit comes with recommendations to improve the efficacy and efficiency of government operations. The Auditor releases compliance with these recommendations in publicly available annual reports, and while this is an indispensable service, it can make it hard to sift through such a large body of work sprawling across hundreds of programs and dozens of departments. You can check out the most recent annual report here.   

Fortunately, navigating audit recommendations is now easier than ever with a new public dashboard! This new resource allows you to search compliance with audit recommendations going all the way back to 2007. You can find the dashboard on the bottom of the Office of the City Auditor’s recommendations page. For full functionality, click on the expander icon on the lower right hand of the dashboard.

I want Seattle to be the best run municipality in the country. The path to that goal runs through cultivating a culture of feedback and accountability that is only possible with a well-resourced audit function. This budget season I will be bringing a proposal along with several of my colleagues to increase our investment in the Office of the City Auditor to make that vision a reality.

Auditor David Jones and his team have done incredible work to improve Seattle government. I hope you take a moment to examine some of that good work via this new tool to view accountable government in action.

View the Dashboard
Warmly,
Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis
Seattle City Council // District 7
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