The mayor acknowledged that while many are benefiting from a booming local economy, thousands are sleeping on the streets in a dystopian “Other Seattle.”
He said he wants to double the city’s spending on homelessness with a five-year, $275 million property-tax levy.
Murray has asked billionaire tech entrepreneur Nick Hanauer and Daniel Malone, executive director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, to lead an advisory group tasked with hammering out the details, he said.
The mayor said he hopes the City Council will put the measure on the August ballot.
“This would allow us to invest in mental-health treatment, in addiction treatment and in getting more people into housing and off the streets,” he said, adding, “I believe the residents of Seattle are ready to support such a measure.”
Murray is challenging the city’s business community to come up with an additional $25 million over five years, he said.
On Wednesday, the mayor will activate the Emergency Operations Center to help people without homes. The center is traditionally activated only during severe storms, major city events and natural disasters.
The move comes more than a year after Murray first proclaimed Seattle to be in a homelessness state of emergency.
Seattle’s facility will be modeled on the Navigation Center that San Francisco officials opened in 2015, with the goal of providing people with wraparound services and moving them quickly into permanent housing.
Like a dormitory, the Mission District center has showers, restrooms, laundry machines, lockers and on-demand meals.
Guests receive customized case-management, mental- and behavioral-health counseling and connections to benefits.
They come and go as they please without losing their beds, unlike guests at traditional shelters, who must line up each night.
The facility is designed to accommodate groups of people moving out of unauthorized homeless camps.
It allows partners, pets and possessions, which are barred from most traditional shelters, and there aren’t many rules and admission restrictions.
Lowe oversees the library system’s adult services: everything from tax assistance, to healthcare navigation, computer classes, English classes, and now a robust homeless engagement program as well. Several years ago, a grant allowed them to add a staffer with a social work background to help connect homeless patrons to services because success is often about access.
Giudice admits that she had to overcome her own assumptions when shaping the program. After transferring from a branch library to expanded duties downtown, she says she saw the homeless loitering outside and decided that helping them obtain their GEDs would solve the problem. Her awakening came when a homeless patron with a doctorate offered to teach it for her.
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