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Council Passes the Budget

Watch my remarks about Council's 2021 budget

The Council voted Monday to pass our historic investments in Housing, Homelessness, Green New Deal, Community Safety and Economic Recovery priorities! This budget scales up community-led alternatives to police models, and addresses the intersectional harms of the lack of access to housing, sidewalks, safe streets, good jobs and the impact of environmental racism that we have seen only worsen as our wealth gap grows in Seattle. This budget responds by prioritizing investments in housing, shelters, food assistance, and ensuring a just response to COVID is possible by protecting emergency funds given the uncertainty of the upcoming year. 

We are protecting living wage jobs at the city and providing key supports for essential minimum wage earners in the community. We have maintained and expanded access for small businesses to have capital funding to adapt in this time of COVID and to be able to open again when it’s safe. We are working on building back our local economy, but building it back better and more equitable way. And for that I am proud, though I know there is much more work to be done. As Chair, I sought to: 

  • Create transparency and access through the budget process
  • Ensure our budget prioritizes response to the overlapping crises we are facing
  • Focus on equity & economic recovery, health, housing & safety
  • Prevent against austerity budgeting by protecting city services and workers.

It was no easy task to tackle COVID needs, an economic downturn, the civil rights uprising and to do so remotely with 2 back to back budgets, all on the heals of passing the historic progressive JumpStart Seattle progressive payroll tax this summer-but the country is demanding more of its elected leaders now, and in many ways we are stepping up to deliver on many priorities. Working together, we were able to restore the reserves to a relatively healthy level of around $40 million, helping ensure we are ready for 2021.  

The Council’s draft budget prevents against austerity budgeting. We are protecting living wage jobs at the city and providing key supports for essential minimum wage earners in the community. We have maintained and expanded access for small businesses to have capital funding to adapt in this time of COVID and to be able to open again when it’s safe. We are taking key steps to rectify the harms of the criminal justice system, and building on our investments from this summer. We are working on building back our local economy, but building it back better and more equitable way. And for that I am proud, though I know there is much more work to be done. 

The pillars of this budget are centered on driving a more equitable economic recovery by focusing on ensuring more Seattleites are housedhealthy and safe.

This Fall budget season, we had a total of 15 Select Budget Committee meetings, including two public hearings. In total, we heard more than 14 hours of public comment during this budget period.
Since the budgeting process began, our office has received over 13,000 emails calling on the City Council to reject austerity budgeting. The vast majority of those emails called on the Council to divest from SPD and redirect that funding to community led alternatives to traditional policing (~5,000), support a Solidarity Budget (~3,000), and invest in a Seattle Green New Deal (~3,000). 
We’ve also heard from close to 1,000 constituents who support dismantling the Nav Team and shifting investments to more humane and effective encampment response, and support funding for tiny house villages, and expanding services to houseless individuals with sanitation stations and expanded garbage pick-up.
And, we're not done.  We want to continue to create processes that center those who we represent.  Please email in with your ideas for next year -- our process begins soon.

Highlights of Council’s Budget

Economic Recovery

During this budget, we had the opportunity to clearly identify these disparities that disproportionately impact BIPOC communities and create a recovery plan to prioritize the development of a more equitable and just local economy. This budget invests resources into our parks, streets, sidewalks, small businesses, and public sector workers to create greater stability. These investments not only support local workers and economic infrastructure but also facilitate a faster recovery for small businesses and local economic activities. Dont’ take it from me, that’s what the data shows! Recovering equitably from the COVID-19 recession means maintaining our workforce, providing supports for impacted businesses, and investing in infrastructure for essential workers to get to their jobs and people to get around their neighborhoods safely. A few examples include:
  • Restoring positions proposed for budgetary layoffs in HSD, OED, OPCD, SDOT, and SFD (CW-001-A-002)
  • Developing strategies to support farmers markets (OED-002-A-003)
  • And so much more can be found here.


We are heading into the second year of the public health crisis and compounding economic crisis that is COVID, and the need to invest in housing is greater than ever. The Council’s budget makes investments in a whole range of supports to shore up our neighbors experiencing housing insecurity and those surviving in shelters and on the streets—from homelessness prevention programs, to homelessness response to help get folks who are in unsafe congregate shelters and on the streets into safer non-congregate shelter and housing options, to more deeply affordable housing to prevent people from cycling back in to homelessness.

The Council is adding funding to help elders, school-aged families, and renters stay in their homes and stay healthy:

  • The Home for Good program (OH-003-A-002)
  • Homelessness Prevention for Families with School-Aged Children (HOM-015-A-001)
  • Tenant Outreach, Education, Eviction Defense, and Counseling (SDCI-004-A-001)
  • Homeless Outreach and Provider Ecosystem (HOPE Program) (HOM-005-B-001)


Green New Deal

The issue of climate change intersects with every immediate challenge facing our communities—housing, health, and economic recovery—and poses the biggest threat to the long-term health of our community and economy.  And we can’t wait to act. This budget seizes the moment by investing in infrastructure to connect communities with greener, safer, and healthier options for getting around, and prioritizes climate equity through Green New Deal investments:


This year has reminded us why it’s critical to invest in the public’s health and maintain access to services that promote healthy communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its third wave, record numbers of people are now getting infected and dying in King County, and across the country. Our Public Health leaders have led the way in slowing the spread, but the growing numbers show we are still very much vulnerable and must act with urgency. Our health is compromised when we don’t have access to clean water to wash our hands, regular meals to keep our families healthy, access to mental health or substance abuse counseling, and support to find a safe place. And these are some health investments the Council’s budget prioritized:

  • Street sink handwashing stations (SPU-004-B-001)
  • Expand the Encampment Trash program (SPU-003-A-002)
  • Expansion of the Fresh Bucks program (OSE-005-B-001)
  • Senior Congregate Meal programs (HSD-002-A-002)
  • A Contract with Public Health – Seattle and King County (PHSKC) for drug user health services. (HSD-009-B-001
  • Increased services and harm reduction programs at social service agencies that serve people who use drugs (HSD-050-B-001
  • Expanding the Health One Unit (SFD-001-A-001
  • Adding a Crisis Counselor that would provide trauma-informed counseling services and referrals (SFD-005-A-002
  • Providing funding for life saving equipment like Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), Lucas Devices, and Ballistic Sets (SFD-002-A-002
  • Adding a Consulting Nurse to assist with dispatching at the Seattle Fire Department’s 911 Fire Alarm Center (SFD-004-A-002
  • Restore SFD recruit class and testing cuts (SFD-003-A-002


Thank you to the hundreds of community members who have engaged with the Council on the topic of Community Safety. Through public comment, emails, phone calls, and filling the streets you all have made change possible in this Budget cycle.  In this budget, we continue scaling down the police department budget while we make concurrent investments to scale-up community based alternatives to traditional police responses. While there are many challenges, we are still on the path toward responsible right-sizing of our current approach as we scale up community investments. We must strengthen the existing community solutions all along the spectrum of need, make investments upstream to create greater stability and provide more community-led responses for those in crisis, and invest in restorative justice models.

  • Scale up community based public safety programs/services (HSD-008-A-002)
  • Community based alternatives to addressing harm created by the criminal justice system (OCR-001-B-001)
  • Restorative justice pilot program (DEEL-002-A-002)
  • Programming for Black girls and young women and Black queer and trans youth (DEEL-001-A-002)
  • Allocate funds from SPD cuts to a Participatory Budgeting process (FG-004-A-001)
  • Account for revised attrition prediction for 2021 (SPD-025-B-002)
The movement for Black Lives has made it clear that policing as it stands can no longer continue. As we continue to work to shrink the size of our police presence in community we are simultaneously scaling up the alternative community based solutions that have long existed and just needed increased capacity to meet the need. The right-sizing of our police department is undoing years of structural racism; policing is one of the oldest institutions in our Country. This year was the first time our Council did not vote to expand the budget, and in fact took steps to divest from the policing budget and invest in BIPOC communities. And there is much more work yet to do.
To explore the Council’s budget, check out this interactive tool with amendments, organized by Councilmember or theme.

Team Teresa News!

Team Teresa is growing, in more ways than one!

Erin House, our Policy Manager, and lead on all things housing, zoning, land use, equitable development, and more, is expecting a baby very soon. We are so thrilled for her and her growing family, and very happy that she is taking the next six months to be with the little one the way. As we send Erin off with well-wishes we will be welcoming an Interim Policy Director through May 31s, Andrew Houston, and our new intern, Lori Lynn Mahieu. 

Andrew Grant Houston, known by his friends as Ace, is an architect and urban designer who is passionate about changing the way people live in cities and is focused on creating places where individuals thrive together and culture is celebrated. A mixed-race and queer individual, his appreciation of culture also expands to his interests: he loves eating all types of cuisine, enjoys foreign music and films, and speaks four languages. Andrew comes from a background in housing advocacy and is excited to champion affordable housing as a member of #TeamTeresa. 

Lori Lynn Mahieu is a current senior at the University of Washington Seattle majoring in Political Science and minoring in Law, Society, and Justice. She has lived in Seattle for over 20 years where she has developed a deep appreciation for the art and science of specialty coffee. She is a mother, a worker, an organizer, and a self-described policy and data nerd. Prior to returning to school to complete her BA, Lori worked for and managed several well-regarded Seattle area coffee shops, competed in national barista competitions, consulted with and trained business owners world-wide, and has traveled to producing countries to better understand the effects of coffee consumption in the US and Europe on the workers who grow the product. 

Welcome, Ace and Lori! Good luck, Erin! And thanks to all - have a wonderful holiday week if you are celebrating and please remember to physically distance, wear a mask and be careful. 
In solidarity,
Teresa Mosqueda

Seattle City Council Councilmember, Position 8
Copyright © 2020 Seattle City Council, All rights reserved.

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