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Dear Neighbors,
 
Thank you for all your support, suggestions, and advocacy as the City Council considered and passed the City’s budget for 2021. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with so many constituents and community groups who helped me craft amendments and provisos to put Seattle on a path to recovery next year.
 
My office will be closed the last two weeks of December while the Council goes on recess so that my staff and I can take some much needed rest during the holidays (I will still be holding office hours for those of you who have signed up for meetings!).
 
Before we close up shop, however, we have a few exciting initiatives that I want to tell you about.

Support for Bars, Restaurants, and Hospitality Workers

Yesterday, the Finance and Housing Committee unanimously approved $5 million in relief for bars, restaurants, and hospitality workers. This package was announced on December 4th by Mayor Durkan and Councilmembers Morales, Mosqueda, and González. The measure will make $2.5 million available in grants specifically for restaurants and bars, and $2.5 million in direct relief for hospitality workers.
 
As a member of the Housing and Finance Committee I proudly voted for this measure yesterday, and look forward to voting on its final passage next Monday. I will send an email to alert the public on how to apply for this relief once the details are finalized by the Office of Economic Development.

Permanent Supportive Housing Legislation

Last week I officially posted my legislation to make it faster and cheaper to build permanent supportive housing (PSH). PSH is affordable housing with onsite wraparound services for people who need mental health support, addiction treatment, and counseling, among other services. Scaling PSH is the key demand of the business and service provider Third Door Coalition, the unlikely alliance that has come together to solve homelessness in Seattle and King County. Third Door Coalition estimates 98% of chronically homeless people in King County would accept an offer to PSH if available, and 90-95% of people placed would successfully remain in those placements.

Since PSH is typically for tenants who are completely indigent it can only be built with public money, mostly from the voter approved Seattle Housing Levy. We have an obligation to be good stewards of that resource and maximize the return on voter trust and taxpayer investment.

By streamlining the permitting processes and cutting through red tape, the City can save nearly $50,000 per-unit and stand up PSH more quickly. Some of these changes will also make it possible to put more units in a building without sacrificing size or comfort.
 
The Office of Housing announced over the summer plans to stand up 600 units of permanent supportive housing, which is great! My bill will help stretch those dollars further to serve more of the roughly 3,500 chronically homeless individuals in King County.
 
While I am not expecting a vote on this bill until January, I am holding a special meeting of the Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies & Investments at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 15th for a staff presentation on this legislation. That meeting will also include a presentation by the Mayor’s Office about the recent ramp-up in litter cleanup related to the Clean Cities Initiative that I successfully included in the 2021 budget.

YouthCare

One of the countless organizations doing remarkable work to respond to the Covid-19 crisis is YouthCare, which works to end young adult homelessness. When the pandemic hit Seattle, YouthCare pivoted their normal operations to a 24/7 model so young people were not forced onto the street during the day and put at higher risk to contract the virus.
 
I was made aware late last month that through a miscommunication with the City, YouthCare did not receive funding to continue 24/7 operations at three key day centers during 2021, creating a dangerous situation for staff and the roughly 70 young adults they serve at those centers.
 
While it was too late to find additional funding in the 2021 budget, my team was able to identify sufficient underspend in the 2020 budget and amend the 4th quarter supplemental budget to keep YouthCare whole and operating 24/7 through 2021. I want to particularly thank Jacob Thorpe on my staff for his diligence in shepherding this proposal through the Finance and Housing Committee, and I look forward to a final vote next Monday to guarantee this important resource to our partners at YouthCare.

End of Year Report

Thank you all for following along during my first year at City Hall. I hope these bimonthly emails have been useful to track what your local government is up to. In the coming weeks I will debut a new tool to summarize what I have done this first year, and make it easier to keep up to date with all of the legislation, projects, and other initiatives coming out of my office. My goal is to produce this annual report in January.
 
In the meantime, I want to solemnly wish everybody in District 7 happy holidays as we close out a challenging and difficult 2020.
Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis
Seattle City Council // District 7
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