Construction begins on 77 new homes for homeless individuals

Today Mayor Ed Murray celebrated 77 new apartments being built to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless individuals in our city. Plymouth Housing Group’s 7th & Cherry building (710 Cherry Street) joins 127 other affordable housing buildings supported by funding from the City of Seattle that provide stable housing for people experiencing homelessness. In total, the City has funded over 3,500 homes to provide people who are homeless the stability and services they need.

“Today’s groundbreaking represents progress,” said Murray. “It is also a sign of what this City and its partners can do when we invest in strategies that work. Our ‘Housing First’ strategy works. It’s an often untold story that we’re here to tell today. Time and again, when we are able to get people into permanent supportive housing like this, it is the most effective way to help them overcome the underlying causes of homelessness.”

In January 2016, there were nearly 3,000 individuals living without shelter in Seattle. Another 3,200 people were in shelters and transitional housing at the same time. In November 2015, Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency for homelessness and proposed a number of strategies to address the issue such as increasing resources for permanent supportive housing like 7th and Cherry.  The 7th and Cherry project is supported with $7.7 million in City funds, primarily from the 2009 Seattle Housing Levy.

“The prior Seattle Housing Levies have been a critical source of funding for Plymouth’s affordable housing properties,” said Paul Lambros, executive director of Plymouth Housing Group. “Plymouth’s newest project at 7th and Cherry is one example of our response to the Mayor’s state of emergency declaration around homelessness. This project will build on our ‘housing is healthcare’ model and provide 77 permanent homes for people just leaving the streets, including medically fragile men and women.”

Permanent supportive housing provides a stable home for people experiencing homelessness along with the social services they need to succeed. The cost of one of these units is just $35 per night compared to $130 for jail, $2,000 for a psychiatric facility, and $4,000 for a hospital stay.

“For over 35 years, the City of Seattle has funded affordable housing for our most vulnerable residents,” said Steve Walker, director of the Seattle Office of Housing. “Our investments have proven results not just for the people who gain the stability of a roof over their head, but for the long-term health of our community as well.”




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Mayor Murray statement on the recent attack on a transgender person on Capitol Hill

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement today regarding an attack on a transgender person on Thursday evening on Capitol Hill after leaving a fundraiser for victims of the Orlando mass shooting:

“This attack is deplorable, and my sympathies are with the young person who was harmed. The attack was meant to injure and to create an environment of fear during Pride. As a City, we worked closely with the community to identify ways to increase visibility, safety and community awareness.

“For example, the Seattle Police Department will continue the Safe Place program to identify local businesses that will shelter victims of harassment until officers arrive. This program is so popular communities throughout the state have started to adopt it. The City directed more resources to support Project EQTY and other social service providers that work with LGBTQ youth. Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Department of Transportation continue to address dark alleys and other physical environments on Capitol Hill that provide cover for criminals. We adopted a new City ordinance to require that single-person restrooms in public accommodations and city facilities be signed for all genders. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is launching a public education initiative directed to all Seattle residents to teach them about LGBTQ people.

“But make no mistake, this attack and all others like it are the result of hateful language that stigmatizes and alienates groups of people because of who they are, whether they are immigrants or Muslims or LGBTQ people.  Despite all of our best efforts as a City, as long as there is a place for hateful language in our communities, our communities will not be safe places for those who are the targets of this hateful language.”

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Mayor’s statement on SPU Director Ray Hoffman’s retirement

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement on the retirement of Seattle Public Utilities Director Ray Hoffman:

“Ray’s steady and forward-thinking leadership as SPU director has been invaluable to the utility customers of Seattle and to the natural environs we strive to protect,” Mayor Murray said. “He has been key to our progress on conservation and recycling, as well as issues such the Cedar River Watershed Habitat Conservation Plan and cleanup of the Duwamish Waterway. I thank him for his 26 years of service and wish him well on the next leg of his journey. We will determine a process to select a new SPU director in the coming weeks.”



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Murray statement on breach of confidentiality in police collective bargaining process

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement today regarding the recent release of confidential contract information in the collective bargaining process between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.

“The collective bargaining process is a sacrosanct part of both our democratic system and the progressive movement. I’m shocked to learn that some who call themselves progressives in our city are willing to sacrifice the integrity of this process for a perceived political gain. I would expect this from the far right in Wisconsin, not the left in Seattle.

“The release of confidential documents in the middle of a police union vote on a tentative contract with the City is an egregious breach of confidentiality that threatens to undermine the collective bargaining process – not just as relates to this specific contract but as it relates to all the City’s labor negotiations.

“The person who committed this breach of process interfered with the Guild’s and the City’s ability to engage each other fairly, in good faith and with an opportunity for all affected employees to have their voices heard – the three central tenets of collective bargaining.

“Regardless of one’s view of this contract or of the police department itself, the collective bargaining process must absolutely be protected.

“The City is exploring several law enforcement options, including hiring an independent investigator to identify the responsible party and to determine compliance with City laws that require confidentiality in the collective bargaining process, as well as any potential criminal violations under state and federal law. The City is also in discussions about the investigation with the FBI.

“While I will not go into a line item explanation of the tentative agreement while it is being voted upon, I will say that every element of the proposed contract is consistent with our work progressing toward compliance with the Consent Decree.

“This was not an easy set of negotiations.  Having come to this point, I am confident that it is an excellent deal for the Guild and an excellent deal for the City. Yet I am incredibly concerned that all of this great work has been jeopardized by this unconscionable breach.”

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City and Fire Fighters Union Local 27 reach four-year settlement

Mayor Ed Murray announced today that the rank and file of the Seattle Fire Fighters Union, Local 27, covering 956 firefighters have approved a four-year contract settlement that will expire on December 31, 2018.

The contract will begin retroactively, on January 1, 2015 and includes annual wage increases of 2.2 percent and 1.1 percent retroactively for 2015 and 2016, 3.5 percent for 2017 and 100 percent of the Seattle CPI-W for 2018.

“I want to thank all Seattle firefighters for their commitment to public service and keeping us safe every single day,” said Murray. “Today’s agreement will help us continue to have one of the most well-trained and dedicated fire departments in the country. It also reflects my personal commitment to support the health, wellness and fitness of Seattle firefighters. I would like to acknowledge President Kenny Stuart for his excellent leadership and commitment to Seattle firefighters. It’s through his efforts in negotiating this agreement that we were able to recognize the hard work of the men and women of the Seattle Fire Department.”

The settlement establishes the Seattle Firefighters Health Care Clinic that will benefit firefighters, the department and the community through proactive medical management, injury and disease prevention, and injury rehabilitation.  In addition, the contract will include pay increases to certain specialty assignments, an increase in longevity pay and a limited number of hours for 5-person staffing for new recruits on ladder trucks.

“Through a productive and collaborative process we were able to negotiate an agreement that is fair to firefighters and will enhance service to the community,” said Local 27 President Kenny Stuart. “Seattle Fire Fighters want to thank Mayor Murray and Chief Scoggins for their willingness to recognize the work performed by fire fighters and paramedics as well as the level of commitment of paramedic students. I also want to thank them for increasing resources for the Medic One program and the SFD Dive Team. These enhancements will improve the department’s ability to save lives. I also want to recognize the City for helping to establish the Seattle Firefighters Health Clinic. This clinic will not only reduce injuries and illnesses to save taxpayer money, but it will also reduce firefighter deaths.”

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Mayor Murray speaks at vigil in Cal Anderson Park

Mayor Edward Murray delivered the following remarks this evening at a vigil at Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park in the aftermath of the Orlando mass shooting:

“We are gathered on this summer evening during the month we celebrate Pride to share our grief and support each other as we absorb the news of the largest mass shooting in our nation’s history and the largest act of violence against the LGBTQ community in our nation’s history. We gather tonight in solidarity with those who lost their lives, and we offer our support to their families and to the people of the City of Orlando.

“We are also here this evening because the slaughter of our brothers and sisters was meant to spread fear throughout LGBTQ communities across this country. We will, as we have in the past, face this fear. We will not be intimidated. We will stand strong. We will stand together as a community. The mostly young people in that club were doing something very important: they were out, they were living their joyous lives, they were not afraid.

“When our politics devolve into the politics of personal destruction, into the politics of stereotyping and degrading entire groups of our fellow human beings, we cannot be surprised when from that atmosphere comes violence, whether it is at an African American church in Charleston or a gay club in Orlando.

“We cannot be surprised, but still we are shocked and shaken in our pain and anger and disbelief. And as we learn the stories of those who lost their lives and those who tried to help them, this pain will only grow deeper and the anger greater and the disbelief more profound in the days ahead. As difficult as all this is, we cannot give in to despair.

“The greatest way we can honor those whose lives were lost is to recommit ourselves to hope, to that promise that someday being LGBTQ and out at a club is not an act of bravery — because gone is the threat that it might end in slaughter because of who you are.

“To young people in particular, I urge you, despite this tragedy, not to give in to the sense that nothing can be done. Instead, I ask you to engage like never before. Our community looks to you, more than ever, to build on the gains that we’ve made and to offer a future of hope.

“Along with the Council, with Chief O’Toole, and the men and women of the Seattle Police Department, I promise that this City will do all we can in free society to prevent a tragedy like this from occurring in our community.

“As we leave here, the sun will set and night will fall. Some of us will pray, some will hold their loved ones closest, some will redouble their commitment to the movement, some will do all of these things.  All of us will find ways to make sure those who were murdered in the early hours of this morning did not die in vain. We will live in hope and not fear, we will find ways to bridge what divides us.

“Finally when night falls and we think of those who lost their lives, think of the words I will now paraphrase from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

And when they shall die,

Take them and cut them out in little stars,

And they will make the face of heaven so fine

That all the world will be in love with night

And pay no worship to the garish sun.

“Thank you.”

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Mayor Murray’s statement on the mass LGBTQ hate crime in Orlando

Mayor Edward Murray made the following statement today regarding the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning:

“Americans woke up this morning with the all-too-familiar feeling of incomprehension at another act of mass violence, and LGBTQ Americans awoke with the sickening, all-too-familiar feeling of fear that our community has once again been attacked.

“Words cannot adequately encompass the feelings of grief I am feeling for the loss of so many of our LGBTQ and allied brothers and sisters in Orlando during the largest single act of violence against LGBTQ people in United States history. For too long, our community has been the target of violence throughout the world. It will never make sense to me that love is met with such hate.

“On behalf of the people of the City of Seattle, my heart and my thoughts go out to those whose lives were forever changed by the events last night. Today our community draws closer to one another for comfort, support and healing, and to honor those who were tragically lost.”

Murray will speak to the Seattle LGBTQ community at a candlelight vigil at 8:00 pm at Cal Anderson Park this evening.

Murray said that all SPD officers have received substantial active shooter training, and the Seattle Police Department has increased security for Pride events and other large gatherings.

He has ordered the flags at City Hall to be lowered to half-staff.

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Mayor launches innovative Navigation Center for unsheltered homeless

Executive Order pursues replicating a new low-barrier comprehensive service center based on proven San Francisco model

Mayor Edward Murray took action through Executive Order today directing the creation of a low-barrier, one-stop service center for individuals without shelter to receive the customized support they need to move from the streets back into permanent homes.

“Our strategy for helping people without shelter has to be broader than designating another site in the city to pitch a tent,” said Murray.

The service center will be modeled on the San Francisco Navigation Center, the first of its kind, dormitory-style living facility that provides people living outside with shower, bathroom, laundry and dining facilities, a place to store their belongings, as well as round-the-clock case management, mental and behavioral health services, and connections to benefit programs and housing, all in one location. This facility will prioritize placement for individuals who are currently unsheltered and offer them a secure place to stay and access additional supports in a 24/7 program.

The San Francisco Navigation Center prioritizes serving people from geographic areas with extraordinary public health and public safety challenges, places like Seattle’s I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt. One of the reasons it is effective is because the model enables organic groups or communities that have formed in specific geographic areas to stay together and transition to the Navigation Center.

Murray visited with people living under I-5 yesterday. Pictures can be found here.

The center will be particularly suited to people with partners, pets or possessions who choose to stay in encampments rather than shelters, where partners, pets or possessions are not typically allowed. It will serve up to 75 people at a time.

The center will be funded in part by $600,000 secured by the City in the state capital budget in the 2016 legislative session. The City is matching this state appropriation with a private donation of $600,000 earmarked for homelessness services, and will establish a designated fund to collect additional private donations to support the center.

In March of this year, Murray visited the San Francisco Navigation Center with City Councilmember Tim Burgess and staff from the City of Seattle, King County, and All Home King County to learn about this emerging practice and how the model might be replicated in Seattle. This visit was followed by a second delegation that included Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.

“Every single person living in an encampment has their own story, their own dignity and their own set of reasons for how they got where they are,” said Murray. “These reasons are often incredibly complicated and incredibly difficult, and we have to address these reasons at a very personal level in order to make a meaningful difference. This kind of comprehensive, person-centered approach has been used successfully in San Francisco to help people move from the streets back into permanent homes. We want to duplicate that success here.”

Murray’s Executive Order establishes a public-private partnership workgroup convened by Department of Human Services Director Catherine Lester to develop a proposal for and help implement a replication of the San Francisco model in Seattle. This workgroup will include representatives from All Home, philanthropy and nonprofit partners with expertise in delivering effective housing and services to individuals who are homeless.

This workgroup will also coordinate closely with King County and other regional partners to provide technical assistance or coordination should other jurisdictions be interested in replicating San Francisco’s model in their respective jurisdictions to address the regional problem of homelessness. The workgroup will deliver its proposal to the Mayor within 60 days and the Human Services Department will then issue a request for proposal 30 days later, with a goal of successfully launching the service center by December 31, 2016.

Murray said the people-centered model of supporting those living outside should be reflected in our citywide conversation, as well.

“We talk a lot about the homeless in aggregate,” said Murray. “What we too often do not discuss are individuals, the thousands of our fellow human beings living among us a without a roof over their head or many of their most basic needs being met. Their situations are unlikely to improve if – rather than seeing them as they are, as individuals – all we see is an abstract concept called homelessness. We can only make progress one person at a time.”

By the numbers:

  • On any given night in Seattle, 2,942 individuals are living unsheltered in our community as of the 2016 One Night Count.
  • The Human Services Department is spending nearly $50 million this year to assist single adults, youth, young adults, and families, survivors of domestic violence, older adults and veterans who are currently or at risk of becoming homeless.
  • This includes $7.3 million in one-time funds dedicated through the State of Emergency declared by Mayor Murray in November 2015, which funds 242 additional shelter beds; addresses encampments with outreach, cleanups, storage, referrals to chemical dependency and mental health beds; and sets aside shelter beds.
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City of Seattle awards $2 million in community health care facility funding

The City of Seattle today announced three awards totaling $2 million to promote capital improvements in Seattle’s network of community health care facilities. Following a competitive funding process, NeighborCare Health, Country Doctor Community Health Centers and International Community Health Services were selected as recipients.

“I applaud the work of our community health providers to improve the well-being of our most vulnerable residents and families,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, thousands more of Seattle residents have health care coverage, and now it’s our turn as a City to help expand local access to these critical health services.”

Following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, more than 84,000 newly insured Seattle and King County residents enrolled in health care coverage—many of whom are now covered by Medicaid. The unprecedented demand for health care services required significant investment from the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) to help our community health care facilities expand and meet this new need.

“Despite the gains made by the Affordable Care Act, we know that many of our neighbors lack the medical care to meet basic everyday health needs,” said Catherine Lester, Seattle Human Services Department Director. “Access to quality, affordable and reliable community healthcare is fundamental preventing catastrophic health events that often send vulnerable individuals and families into poverty.”

HSD will fund more than $1.2 million to Country Doctor Community Health Centers to renovate their Capitol Hill site to provide low-barrier dental care to Medicaid recipients and lower-income individuals.

NeighborCare Health was awarded more than $400,000 to create a health care center inside the Dutch Shisler Service Center, providing wraparound services for people who are homeless and vulnerable.

International Community Health Services will receive $350,000 in funding to build an optometry clinic in the International District, which will serve lower-income populations with culturally and linguistically appropriate eye care services. Over 80 percent of Asian-Americans suffer from myopia, yet there are only eight optometrists in Seattle that accept Medicaid patients.

All funding recipients are Federally Qualified Health Centers.

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Murray sends funding plan for additional police officers to City Council

This week Mayor Ed Murray sent the Seattle City Council his proposed funding plan to finance the hiring of 200 new police officers and investments in the City’s 911 call center as outlined in his 2016 State of the City address.

“This is a balanced proposal that ensures that the Seattle Police Department will have sufficient staffing to meet the public safety needs of our growing city,” said Murray. “Residents, businesses, and experts agree that we must increase investments in our police department, hire additional officers, and enhance community engagement. I look forward to working with Council to finalize this plan and to continuing our shared commitment to protect the people and property of Seattle. ”

The proposal calls for an addition of 200 officers by the end of 2019, expanding the Seattle Police Department to the highest staff level in the history of the department. This level of expansion is in line with the police staffing study conducted by Berkshire Advisors.

“The Neighborhood Safety Alliance endorses the mayor’s proposed addition of more officers as starting point for meeting the City’s current and growing public safety needs,” said Cindy Pierce, President of the Neighborhood Safety Alliance. “This proposal is the best mechanism remaining to fund urgently needed expansion of the police force to match Seattle’s vigorous population growth and to bring our staffing levels closer to the norms of big cities in the U.S.”

The expansion of the Seattle Police Department will be financed through reprioritizing existing resources, identifying efficiencies and by increasing selected fees and taxes on Seattle businesses.

“The Ballard Chamber of Commerce supports Mayor Murray’s proposal to add 200 new police officers to the Seattle Police force,” said Mike Stewart, Executive Director of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce.  “We look forward to engaging with the Seattle City Council on this important step forward.”

“Our businesses have been advocating for additional officers for many years,”says Leslie Smith, Executive Director of the Alliance for Pioneer Square. “The need for the police force to be staffed adequately given the growth in our city is felt acutely in both the Downtown and greater Seattle.”

The cost of the 200 additional officers, improving the 911 call center and other information technology investments will cost $37 million per year. Murray is proposing to raise $14 million in new revenues and fund the remaining $23 million (nearly two-thirds of the necessary funding) from existing resources. Roughly half of the General Fund resources has already been approved by Council for hiring additional police officers.

The proposed increases in taxes and fees on Seattle businesses are:

  • 2 percent increase over two years in the existing Business and Occupation (B&O) tax rates, which have not risen since 1991, generating $8.4 million per year. A retail business with $1 million in revenues would pay an additional $70 a year.
  • Restructuring and increasing the City’s Business License fee, with fees increasing in five steps depending on the size of the business, generating $5.8 million per year. The smallest businesses would see a license fee increase of $25 a year.

Incoming calls to SPD’s 911 call center call have placed a growing strain on the current system. Call center volumes have increased by 13 percent since 2010. The call center will be adding staff and making technology investments to handle the growing number of calls for service. Other technology investments at the department include technology infrastructure to support body worn cameras for officers and a new time tracking tool to help manage officer overtime.

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