Seattle mayoral candidates on homelessness: actions, data, accountability
Editor’s Note: Almost 80% of probable Seattle voters in a new Crosscut-Elway poll said the city’s homeless crisis was important as they were considering their choice for mayor. We questioned the two candidates during the ballot on November 2 about their approaches.
Question: What steps would you take in the first 100 days to create a more effective city response to homelessness?
Mr. Lorena GonzÃ¡lez: I will take up my duties in the middle of winter and move around to quickly assess the encampments and people we can immediately move into vacant hotel rooms and other spaces. We need bold leadership to take a holistic approach to the bridge that leaves no solution behind. We need to expand our emergency response to the crisis, and my plan is doing it from day one. But if we are serious about solving this problem, we also need to address the underlying causes that lead people to homelessness in the first place. My administration will take swift action in the first 100 days on all fronts.
First, we need to build a lot of housing quickly. Finding the funding to quickly build permanent, serviced housing for homeless Seattle residents is my top priority.
Second, we need better services for homeless Seattleites. I will be pushing for more comprehensive mental health services, addiction treatment, job and vocational training programs, and a Universal Basic Income pilot program so that homeless Seattle residents can start their lives over. healthy bases.
Third, I will provide the leadership we need in the Mayor’s office – and long lacked – to work with City Council to tackle the soaring cost of living and housing in Seattle. We must limit rent increases in unsafe, unsanitary and unliveable housing, require four months’ notice for large rent increases, provide rent assistance to Seattle residents who need it most, and allow more construction. of multi-family housing throughout the city.
The only way to do this is for big corporations and the very rich to finally pay their fair share. I will work with Council and community leaders to begin to rebalance the tax code so that it is no longer just the people of Seattle who foot the bill.
Bruce Harrell: When I take office, you will see the urgency, action and responsibility to tackle homelessness – informed by data, evidence-based best practices and a commitment to end this humanitarian crisis in our city. .
On the first day, we will get to work: identifying the first 1,000 units that we will have operational in the first six months; expand awareness and programs that help people living in inhumane conditions move from parks and sidewalks to housing and services; prioritize areas that require immediate engagement, including school and park properties that are incompatible with encampments. We will dedicate immediate funds to accelerated sanitation and cleaning of public spaces – making our parks and green spaces clean, safe and welcoming.
We also need to devote resources to emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention – the best and most cost-effective way to reduce homelessness is to prevent it from happening.
Second, to build on this momentum, I’m going to commission an in-depth analysis identifying where we can add supportive housing units and build affordable housing late. We will compile the current availability of housing units and service providers and collect the data that will feed into our publicly accessible dashboard and inform future plans.
Third, we will also budget for the distribution of the second disbursement of American Rescue Plan Act funds. I have asked the current city council to allocate the majority of the first part of the ARPA funds to the fight against homelessness; however, they chose a different direction. Under my leadership, the majority of these funds must go to the biggest challenge we face: homelessness. This unique injection of more than $ 60 million will allow us to have a major and immediate impact.
Maintaining the status quo is inhumane – we need action, responsibility and commitment. As mayor, this new approach will be clear from my first day in office.
Question: What specific data would you use to measure success?
Gonzalez: The metrics that matter are the number of people we have successfully moved into adapted shelter and the number of people we have moved from shelter to permanent housing, providing the services and support they need to restart their lives. life. We will assess our progress in addressing the root causes of homelessness by examining how affordable our city is becoming – if we reduce overall housing costs, how economically diverse neighborhoods become as we invest in them, if we are reducing the unemployment rate and increasing the percentage of our workforce in jobs that pay a living wage.
Harrell: Seattle needs an accessible dashboard to demonstrate its metrics for success. The people of Seattle must trust our plans and our progress.
Some key measures will be the cost per housing unit, the costs of services, the estimated number of people living on the streets and the number of camps, the average time spent in a shelter or permanent supportive housing, the success rates to avoid roaming – by type of accommodation and by provider. We will look at this data in a broad and granular manner on a case-by-case basis.
Through the Race and Data initiative that I am proposing, we will analyze the disparities between the best served people – based on ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexuality and others. factors. Using this data, we will invest in culturally competent and equitable services that deliver results. Our data will be public and we will assess the impressions of residents, neighborhoods and community members to understand their perceptions of the city’s effectiveness in dealing with the homelessness crisis.
Question: How to hold programs and providers accountable for results?
Gonzalez: We will ensure that we fund programs that effectively transition people to shelter and housing, and that taxpayer resources are not wasted on those who do not. Programs like the Navigation Team, which have only had a 6% success rate in placing people in shelters, are a waste of taxpayer dollars and should not be funded. My administration will provide leadership, advice and action to the board, whose job it is to fund programs and provide oversight to effectively allocate dollars to programs that work.
Harrell: Transparency is the key. With our dashboard and accessible plan, and by opening up the data, the public can be a part of this process. When the programs work, we should double down. When they aren’t, we’ll make changes, improve efficiency, and share best practices within the vendor community.
Our response will show a new level of practical, engaged and invested participation to ensure progress is made. My administration will bring true collaboration with service providers on our common goal: to end homelessness. To do this, we will work closely with service providers to develop clear mutual expectations regarding deliverables, costs and success rates. When results do not meet those promises and expectations, we will make adjustments.
We are not going to be afraid to explore new options and innovations. We’ll take a look at the latest research from across the country – and around the world – to inform new solutions and better results.