Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced a series of age-friendly initiatives for the City of Seattle to address environmental, economic, and social factors influencing the health and well-being of older adults. Supporting these initiatives, the proposed first quarter supplemental budget includes $200,000 of additional funding for 2017 to fund organizations that are developing innovative new programs for seniors, nonprofits that provide transportation options for seniors and to fund a technology symposium to create user-friendly online resources for seniors.
“While the Trump administration is actively working to dismantle America’s safety net, including health care and food assistance which protect many of the most vulnerable people in our community, including seniors, Seattle will remain committed to addressing the economic, physical and social challenges facing older adults,” said Mayor Murray. “From urban planning, growth and development to housing, transportation and services, these aspects of our community will be shaped for and by our older residents.”
The goal of these new initiatives is to increase social participation, racial equity and awareness of issues older adults face daily, while decreasing displacement. As the population of older adults in Seattle increases, the City is developing goals and indicators around departmental initiatives that consider aging adults. In addition to the new funding outlined above, Mayor Murray outlined several specific early action items for 2017 including:
- Signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the King County Department of Assessments to increase enrollments in the City’s Utility Discount Program and the state’s Property Tax Exemption/Referral Program to help older adults to stay in their homes. The goal is to double the number of seniors enrolled in both programs;
- Leveraging Seattle’s civic technology community to help the City better meet the needs of the aging population. This includes coordination of a technology symposium and design workshops to create user-friendly online resources for seniors based on best practices and innovative solutions from other cities;
- In a partnership with King County Metro, increasing usage of the Regional Reduced Fare Permit, a reduced fare program by older adults by streamlining the application process;
- Improving the pedestrian environment by assessing sidewalks with the involvement of seniors, implementing walkability audits, promoting transportation options for older adults, and incorporating age-friendly criteria into the Pedestrian Master Plan for 2018-2022;
- Involving seniors in the development and engagement process for new capital investments and increasing participation in senior-focused recreation and healthy food programs offered through the City of Seattle Human Services Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, and Office of Sustainability and Environment;
- Improving housing affordability by developing a regional housing action plan to assess senior housing needs, identifying low-income seniors to participate in the Utility Discount Program and the senior property tax exemption program; increasing access to weatherization services, home repair, and foreclosure prevention programs; and evaluating feasibility of senior home-sharing options.
“As the real estate market continues to boom we see more and more seniors facing financial difficulty,” said King County Assessor John Wilson. “I am thrilled to partner with Mayor Murray and the City of Seattle to offer relief to those who need it the most. We will work together to ensure Seattle is a place we can all afford to call home.”
In addition to early actions, Mayor Murray is committing to two community equity forums—one focused on the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders; the other on the needs of older women. Also, the City is looking to provide older adults with better access to human services and City resources, based on best practices, new technologies and innovative solutions from other cities.
“I’m pleased to see our City so fully embrace this Age-Friendly concept, making this a city for all ages and abilities,” said Sally Bagshaw, Seattle City Councilmember. “Personally, I want to see giant steps forward in improving our sidewalks across the city. When we maintain our sidewalks, connecting them block-to-block and implementing safe crosswalks, we make a pedestrian-friendly network. The improved pedestrian environment encourages people of all ages to walk, and as we all know, a little fresh air does us good.
“A sidewalk free of bulges and holes appeals to everyone in the neighborhood, including the mom pushing her stroller, a child riding a scooter to school, and those who may find walking a challenge. Investing in safe walking routes for all of us should be a top priority for our Age-Friendly city.”
“It is important to me and to our City that we take care of our elders,” said Catherine Lester, Director of the City’s Human Services Department. “This requires us to create opportunities for social participation, to promote health and wellness, and to make sure our physical environment is accessible. These are the types of things that allow Seattle to continue to be a place where people of all ages and stages of life can thrive. Our elders, as well as all people in our community, must feel valued and be able to participate fully as part of this community.”
The Human Services Department will also design an innovation fund to identify and award funding for unique and creative projects that meet community needs. The first year will include a focus on ways to creatively move towards an age-friendly community with a specific focus on results and racial equity.
The City will consider suggestions for age-friendly improvements in the 2018 budget and will report on the progress of the initial three-year plan to the Human Services and Public Health Committee, or other appropriate City Council committees, through 2021.
Currently, 18 percent of King County’s residents are 60 years and older. By 2040, that number is expected to grow to be one in four adults (25 percent). Currently, 63 percent of King County renters age 65 and older spend more than 30 percent of their annual income on housing. Racial disparities persist in these findings. Nearly two-thirds of older Black/African Americans (60 percent) spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, as do more than half (56 percent) of older Latino seniors. This compares to 47 percent of White older adults.
In July 2016, Seattle joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. This initiative outlines “The 8 Domains of Livability” which include:
- Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
- Social Participation
- Respect and Social Inclusion
- Civic Participation and Employment
- Communication and Information
- Community and Health Services
The AARP/WHO framework looks for improvements in these specific areas that influence the health and quality of life for our city’s older residents. This initiative aims to help the region support the positive contributions of older adults and enable people of all ages and abilities to achieve their potential.
Mayor Ed Murray will be temporarily activating the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to accelerate and coordinate our response to the homelessness crisis in Seattle.
Led by Director of City Operations Fred Podesta, activating the EOC will utilize a successful model to manage coordination of both internal departments and external partners to more urgently provide services and lower barriers to housing for people living on our streets. While work at the EOC will be centered around accelerating the work of Pathways Home and getting individualized services to people living outside, the collaborative model will also foster innovative ideas to address this crisis. Work at the EOC will include:
- Accelerating the implementation of Pathways Home, the City’s plan to address homelessness and the guiding principles of getting individualized services to people living unsheltered and getting them inside quickly.
- Launching the Navigation Team, a specially trained group of outreach workers and Seattle Police officers. Navigation Team members will go into unauthorized encampments throughout the city to help identify and implement individual solutions that break down barriers preventing unsheltered people from moving indoors.
- Addressing trash and associated public health hazards to provide a safer environment for both people living unsheltered and the community at-large. People living in unauthorized encampments are more vulnerable to crime and abuse, making this work critical to their safety.
The Seattle EOC’s established mission is to minimize the impact of emergencies and disasters on the community through coordinated planning, information-sharing and resource management between all City departments, partnering agencies and the public. In this case, the City is using the coordination, communications and tracking tools of the EOC, and applying it to the work we are doing to address the critical needs of people living outside. This model provides a daily check-in on issues and solutions, engaging all of the participants in focused tactics and nimble response.
Why is the City doing this?
Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis with many causes. Those living on our streets face tremendous challenges, from the loss of a job or home to severe mental health or substance abuse disorders, that the City is working to help address.
The impact this crisis has on the individuals experiencing homelessness as well as the broader community is a growing challenge. Originally, the State of Emergency on Homelessness was intended to invoke greater help from our state and federal partners, but over a year later, we are still waiting for that needed support.
The City has already implemented many initiatives and new resources in the last three years, led by Pathways Home, the plan to create a more integrated homelessness services system based on individualized services and measurable goals. This plan has the core mission of breaking down barriers to moving people inside. As part of the effort to tailor services, the City launched the Navigation Team, will be opening a new Navigation Center, and is implementing the Bridging the Gap plan to address the immediate needs of 3,000 people living on our streets. More than $100 million has been budgeted for this work over two years.
How is this different from what the City is already doing around homelessness?
We are capitalizing on the EOC’s successful, proven unified structure that brings all players into the same room to coordinate efforts and ensure an efficient operation. This structure also has many resources in place that facilitate quick and clear coordination, communication and execution of duties. Using the EOC model, the City will tap into all of its resources to align our efforts around the current principles of Pathways Home, and to foster more innovative solutions to the homelessness crisis.
How is this different from a typical EOC activation (e.g., related to severe weather or other acts of nature, massive public events, etc.)?
While employing the EOC for the homelessness crisis is unconventional, aiding those living on our streets requires the kind of coordinated, citywide effort the EOC is designed to facilitate. This activation will be open-ended, as the City works to address this crisis from many angles, and will include daily check-ins with all representatives, followed by on the ground work to help people living on our streets.
Who is involved?
Like other events where the EOC is engaged, all City departments will have some role, whether leading specific programs or simply providing resources to the effort. City deparments already partner both internally and externally with stakeholder agencies and organizations, and social service, shelter and housing providers to help people living on our streets move inside. The EOC has been a successful model to coordinate with internal and external partners such as King County, Public Health, WSDOT, Washington State Patrol, the United Way of King County and other service providers.
What are the goals of this effort?
The City’s strategy, Pathways Home, is guiding all the work we do to move people into housing, which is our ultimate goal. With this in mind, the goals of the EOC activation include helping those living outdoors move into shelter as quickly as possible by developing an individual pathway to housing based on their needs. The activation will support the Navigation Team, which focuses on solutions for individuals, helping people living unsheltered move to safer alternatives and connect them with services to ensure their stability.
Additionally, the City will continue to focus on collecting trash on public property to reduce the associated public health hazards in unauthorized encampments and in the community. This work will be done based on the principles laid out in Bridging the Gap, which detailed that new protocols for encampment cleanups must ensure the civil rights of residents are respected.
Is the City still using the Pathways Home plan?
Yes. The City is focused on making the support system more efficient and effective to move people into housing as quickly as possible and offer individualized services. This plan is called Pathways Home and it includes six strategies that revamp the entire service delivery system. We are working with shelters to increase emergency shelter capacity and expanding access to those services. See www.seattle.gov/pathwayshome for more.
How long will the City be using the EOC?
The City is committed to helping people move indoors as quickly as possible. We will use the EOC as long as it is needed.
What is the cost?
City departments will utilize existing resources for this effort. It is not anticipated that new funds will be required for this coordination. However, Mayor Murray announced an effort to double the funding to address homelessness during his State of the City speech, to significantly accelerate and expand the City’s work under Pathways Home.
For more information on the City’s homelessness response, visit: http://seattle.gov/homelessness.
Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced the creation of a new Navigation Team, comprised of outreach workers paired with specially trained Seattle Police Department (SPD) personnel, who will work to connect unsheltered people to housing and critical resources, while helping address pervasive challenges around the issue of homelessness in Seattle. The team will immediately begin working with unsheltered people who have urgent and acute unmet needs, and will serve as the primary access point for people to be served by the Navigation Center.
The Mayor also announced the City has reached an agreement to locate the Navigation Center at the Pearl Warren Building, at 606 12th Ave. S. The Navigation Center will be a 24-hour, low-barrier shelter designed to connect homeless individuals to services and transition them to permanent housing and will open to a limited number of people this spring. While the Navigation Center is being completed, the City will set up temporary sites to provide similar services.
“To best serve those living unsheltered in our community, our services must recognize the individuals currently left outside of our current system,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Some of our most vulnerable face mental health and addiction challenges, or have other individualized needs, such as partners, pets or possessions, that the Navigation Center is designed to address. This new approach to addressing the growing national homelessness crisis, which has impacted thousands here in Seattle, allows the City to fill a gap that has prevented many from accessing services and shelter.”
Distinguishing itself from current shelters in Seattle that have admittance restrictions, the Navigation Center’s harm reduction approach is modeled on the successful facilities in San Francisco. A planned dormitory-style living facility that provides shower, bathroom, and laundry facilities, as well as meals and a place to store their belongings, Seattle’s Navigation Center will be open 24/7 and welcomes pets, couples, and individuals currently struggling with addiction, though no drug use will be allowed on-site. Once fully open, the Navigation Center will serve up to 75 individuals at one time.
The City’s Human Services Department (HSD) has contracted with the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) to operate the center and offer supportive services and case management to quickly transition clients into housing. They also will work with clients needing healthcare, including substance abuse treatment and mental health services. Operation Sack Lunch will provide food and meals on site. To accommodate the specialized functions of the center, the City must make modifications to the building including: safety improvement, expanding shower and bathing facilities, and updating the space to allow pets, couples and storage for belongings.
While the renovations of the center are underway, HSD and DESC will setup temporary sites that will provide services similar to those that will be available at the Navigation Center. This includes assessments and referrals for housing, mental and physical health services.
The City will host community information sessions for those with questions about the center. Details will be announced in the coming weeks.
In addition to the Navigation Center, the City will begin deploying the new Navigation Team, to connect unsheltered individuals with existing services and shelter. The team will be staffed by contracted outreach workers and SPD personnel who have advanced certification in crisis intervention and de-escalation techniques. The purpose of the team’s approach is to bring more people inside and create faster resolutions to hazardous situations. They will begin working with unsheltered individuals who have urgent and acute unmet needs, including people who relocated from the I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt. This new team will be the primary access point for people to be served by the Navigation Center.
“The Navigation Team will work with people living with the most severe challenges, such as ongoing opiate addiction or mental health issues,” said Mayor Murray. “This population of people living unsheltered are too often found in dire circumstances, in unauthorized encampments where they are more vulnerable to serious criminal activity. Our outreach must focus on these specific challenges to achieve the goal of moving people living unsheltered into stable, permanent housing and helping them get back on their feet.”
With weather forecasts predicting temperatures below freezing and possible snow Sunday night through Tuesday, the City of Seattle is preparing for possible accumulations and advising residents to prepare at home and for hazardous travel conditions.
Additionally, the Seattle Human Services Department is expanding capacity at the shelter operated at Seattle City Hall (601 5th Ave) to accommodate additional women tonight. Individuals looking for shelter from freezing temperatures are encouraged to come to City Hall and enter from the 4th Avenue entrance. Also, the shelter operated at the King County Administration Building (500 4th Ave S) will provide 50 additional beds tonight for men seeking shelter from the cold weather.
In the event of snow and/or ice, City emergency planners urge residents to prepare their homes for cold weather, build emergency supply kits for homes and vehicles, and not to drive unnecessarily. For more information on how to prepare for winter weather, please visit the Seattle Department of Transportation’s winter weather website and Take Winter By Storm. Additionally, for up-to-date information pertaining to impacts in the City of Seattle, please sign up for alerts at Alert.Seattle.gov.
The City of Seattle Emergency Operations Center will open at 5 a.m. Monday, February 6. City staff continue to monitor forecasts and City departments are preparing operations to respond to impacts from snow and ice.
In many ways, 2016 was a year of both progress and reaffirmation. Time and again, our community stepped up to care for its most vulnerable residents, showed the world our spirit of inclusiveness and demonstrated what it means to put progressive values into action.
Here’s a look back at how we kept momentum and set the stage for even bolder action in pursuit of a more equitable, livable and vibrant city in the year ahead.
It’s no secret Seattle is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis due to a booming economy driving population growth and demand for housing that has outpaced supply. In August voters renewed the Seattle Housing Levy by an overwhelming margin, adopting the largest affordable housing funding measure in the city’s history. By leveraging $290 million in levy funds with other pieces of our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, we’re on track to create 20,000 income- and rent-restricted affordable homes over the next decade, along with 30,000 market-rate units to meet growing demand. Since the start of 2015, 1,725 income and rent-restricted homes have opened, with 3,512 more units in development. This represents the most aggressive housing production this city’s ever seen and we’re on pace to triple past investments in affordable housing. This year we celebrated the opening of affordable housing and cultural space at Plaza Roberto Maestas (pictured above), broke ground at Arbora Court and Anchor Flats, and continued work with partners to leverage the Housing Levy.
To promote greater housing production and more equitable distribution of affordable housing, we adopted the Mandatory Housing Affordability program that for the first time ensures residential and commercial developers create or fund affordable housing with every new project. Supporting a vision laid out in the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, growth is being directed at urban centers and villages with access to transit, parks, small businesses and schools. In addition, the City this year adopted a number of new tenant protections, such as tackling source-of-income discrimination and prohibiting rent increases when units don’t meet minimum maintenance standards.
In October we struck a deal for redevelopment of Civic Square, otherwise known as “the hole next to City Hall,” which will result in nearly $22 million to support affordable housing and our Equitable Development Initiative.
To learn more about HALA, developer requirements and how you can join conversations about smart growth strategies, visit http://seattle.gov/hala and watch a replay of this Facebook Live Q&A.
Related to housing affordability, we’ve been facing a homelessness crisis affecting not just Seattle but a number of West Coast cities. The causes are many, from a decades-long decline in state and federal funding for health and human services to a worsening opioid epidemic. With more than 3,000 people – including 500 families – living unsheltered in Seattle, it’s clear that we must take bold action and try new approaches to achieve the goal of getting those experiencing homelessness off the street and into stable housing. To that end, this year we’ve initiated Pathways Home, a person-centered strategy that focuses on programs and approaches that best achieve the goal of ending homelessness by finding stable housing for those living unsheltered.
Pathways Home is transformational, and will take years to fully implement. We’ve begun by establishing performance-based contracting, funding programs that assist vulnerable residents with finding and keeping stable housing, and pursuing low-barrier shelter including a soon-to-open Navigation Center that will accommodate the individual needs and challenges of those experiencing homelessness including those with pets and those fighting addiction.
While Pathways Home offers the best chance to end homelessness in the long term, we must do more to provide safer alternatives for those living unsheltered and establish greater safety and certainty for those living in and near encampments. Like many, I was shocked by the violence and terrible conditions of the unauthorized East Duwamish encampment known as “the Jungle,” which existed for decades as a threat to the health and safety of its inhabitants and the wider community. Following months of outreach, in October we worked with the State to close the Jungle, found safer shelter for dozens of those who had been living there and cleared away hundreds of tons of garbage.
Also in October I unveiled Bridging the Gap, an interim action plan on homelessness that:
- Creates safer alternative spaces to live, including four new authorized encampments including up to two low sites.
- Expanded outreach by tripling the number of outreach workers connecting with people living in encampments, dedicating a Seattle Police team to partner with outreach workers to address behavioral disorder issues they encounter, and training frontline City employees on how to best offer referrals for people experiencing homelessness.
- Enacted more compassionate protocols for unauthorized encampments, including clearer notice of cleanups, improved handling of storage and personal belongings, and transparency around when and why cleanups are carried out.
- Improved trash and needle pickup with Seattle Public Utilities to help address areas most affected by trash buildup and make needle deposit boxes more accessible.
Our efforts to curb homelessness and work with neighborhoods to address issues related to encampments will continue in the year ahead, but I believe we are on the right track and are pursuing the most effective strategies. We can’t do it alone, and it will take the Federal and State government stepping up to bring an end to this crisis. We’ll be further challenged by the Trump Administration if it makes good on its threats to cut local funding.
Seattle Will Remain a Welcoming City
Speaking of President-elect Trump, 2016 will go down as a year when a presidential campaign waged through outrageous bigotry, misogyny and divisiveness challenged our core values. As I said on Election Day, regardless of the outcome of the presidential race, Seattle’s values will not change. We will continue to be a city that embraces diversity, welcomes immigrants, and declares that we will never enact a religious test. I recently spoke to these policies in an interview with the BBC.
In November I signed an Executive Order reaffirming these values. We made clear that City employees will not ask residents seeking services about immigration status unless police officers have a reasonable suspicion that a person is committing or has committed a felony violation. City employees will serve all residents and services will remain accessible to all residents, regardless of immigration status, ancestry, race, ethnicity, national origin, color, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender variance, marital status, physical or mental disability, or religion.
Further, I’ve directed that $250,000 be set aside to address the needs of unauthorized immigrant students enrolled in Seattle Public Schools. These students and their families are part of the fabric of our community. These parents work and pay taxes and make our community a more vibrant place. Their children will become the innovators and problem-solvers of the future, and deserve the chance to focus on school rather than live in fear of their family being ripped apart.
Equity and Inclusiveness
Building greater equity and inclusiveness was a major theme of our work in 2016. We completed a workforce equity strategic plan to better ensure the City’s workforce reflects our community’s diversity both in hiring and in participation, retention and advancement. Women- and minority-owned businesses accounted for nearly 20% of City contracts, one of the highest rates since passage of I-200 nearly 20 years ago.
We filled several important cabinet positions with skilled leaders who bring rich experience, diverse backgrounds and innovative thinking to our departments. These include:
- Mami Hara, our new Director of Seattle Public Utilities, who previously served at Philadelphia Water and helped implement Green City, Clean Waters, one of the nation’s most ambitious green infrastructure programs.
- Dylan Orr, who was sworn in as Director of Office of Labor standards in December. Dylan helped spearhead the City’s adoption of secure scheduling regulations to afford workers greater stability, a healthier workplace and more work-life balance. Previously, Dylan was appointed by President Obama as Special Assistant to the Office of Disability and Employment, making him the first openly-transgender person to be appointed by a presidential administration.
In addition to diversifying the City’s leadership, we took a series of steps to build greater equity and access in services, programs and community engagement:
- In July I issued an executive order directing the Department of Neighborhoods and others to develop robust, modern community engagement plans that offer greater avenues for participation to under-represented communities and make use of digital platforms including the web and social media. A shift to more representative and accessible outreach will ensure greater equity and inclusiveness in neighborhood decision-making. To learn more and participate in Equitable Outreach opportunities, visit https://engageseattle.consider.it/.
- We launched a Language Access program to increase the City’s ability to serve immigrant and refugee communities, and held a number of free workshops to provide resources to those seeking to become citizens.
- In August we secured an Age-Friendly City designation from the World Health Organization and AARP, recognition of our commitment to increasing age-friendly policies such as access to recreation, safe transportation, housing assistance and more.
- In October our Mobile Community Service Center made its debut during a Find It, Fix It walk in Georgetown. This “City Hall on wheels” will bring services and information to under-served neighborhoods.
- In all, we held six Find It, Fix It walks across the City this year, including Licton Springs, Belltown, Roxhill/Westwood, Judkins Park, Georgetown and Crown Hill/Whittier Heights. I appreciate all who take the time to improve their neighborhoods by joining these walks, especially when the weather turns. It’s rewarding to see the projects and creative solutions that emerge from our conversations and the Find It Fix It mobile app. Perhaps my favorite was the use of goats to trim back invasive brush in West Seattle.
- In the 2017-18 budget we funded expansion of Community Centers, increasing operating hours at several facilities, switching to free programming at five community centers and reducing drop-in fees for activities such as toddler gyms and basketball at all facilities.
- On Earth Day, we released an Equity and Environment Agenda to help ensure those most affected by environmental injustices have a bigger role in finding solutions and benefiting from them. Environmental equity means fighting pollution in communities of color through support for a “Green Wall” in Georgetown, promoting career opportunities in exciting fields of renewable energy and others through Green Pathways, and supporting the MobilizeGreen Conference which is building the next generation of leaders in environmental justice.
- In February I signed an executive order directing all City data be open by preference, meaning City departments will always make their data accessible to the public while taking steps to screen for privacy, security and quality. An open data policy builds equity and accountability, while increasing transparency and opportunities for innovation. We’ve established performance dashboards showing progress on public works projects and tools for exploring the City budget. App and software developers can work with these and other datasets at data.seattle.gov to develop new tools and solutions.
Closely tied to equity is our work on education reform, career readiness and pre-K programs.
In its second year, the Seattle Preschool Program expanded to serve 680 students, up from 280 the prior year, and exceeded equity goals with more than 75% of those served being students of color.
Building on our early learning initiatives, last spring I convened the City’s first Education Summit in 25 years, bringing together more than 500 attendees and facilitating more than 1,300 community engagements to address disparities facing students of color by ensuring all students are being prepared for the jobs of the future. Given that 43% of Seattle’s African American and Latino students do not graduate on time, or at all, we must do more to close the achievement gap. We’ve set a goal of raising post-secondary credential attainment to 70% for all Seattle Public Schools students by 2030.
In November, we received recommendations from an Education Summit advisory panel comprised of leaders in education, business and community engagement. Among the recommendations we’ll pursue in the coming year:
- Expanding the My Brother’s Keeper mentoring program for African American/Black male students from Aki Kurose Middle School to five additional middle schools.
- Expanding the innovation school model, which has been successful in addressing disparities in middle schools around attendance, behavior and curricula, to a high school.
- Broadening the City’s Summer Learning Program to serve an additional 200 students, with an emphasis on programs offering culturally specific curriculum.
- Investing in post-secondary programs that ensure students who graduate from high school remain engaged during the summer and successfully enroll in college.
The Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning, in partnership with the Seattle School District, community, philanthropy, and business community will release an action plan early next year outlining next steps.
I’d like to thank everyone who has participated in the Education Summit. Our work is by no means done but we couldn’t have gotten to this point without strong community buy-in.
Police Accountability & Reform
One of the biggest challenges in my time as Mayor has been overseeing a change in culture, training and accountability in our Police Department to improve its relationship with communities of color and comply with the terms of a federal consent decree on use of force. The past year saw tremendous progress. The federal monitor, Judge James Robart, wrote in the latest progress report:
“The Seattle Police Department has made significant progress over the last year in achieving compliance with many aspects of the Consent Decree. With diligence and hard work, and in the absence of unforeseen impediments, and if there comes about greater community cooperation and trust, the SPD could well reach full and effective compliance in as little as a year from now (Fall 2017) in many, if not all, areas. It has been a prodigious effort to come this far, and the distance traveled now exceeds the distance that remains.”
Evidence of that progress can be found in a recent survey showing an approval rating of 72% for the Seattle Police Department, compared to 54% in 2015. Seattle’s police force is becoming more diverse and better equipped to deal with people in crisis without resorting to force.
In October, we sent a reform package to Judge Robart for review that includes the strongest police accountability measures in the City’s history:
- Creation of the Office of Inspector General, empowered to review and report on any aspect of SPD’s policies and practices.
- Increases the independence of our Office of Professional Accountability, replacing sworn SPD officers with civilian staff tasked with overseeing all investigations and complaints against officers.
- Makes the CPC a permanent body, ensuring community input is institutionalized into Seattle’s police services.
Thanks to Chief O’Toole, and to all in SPD and community who have helped make our reform efforts a model across the nation. I look forward to continuing these efforts in the year ahead.
A fast-growing city striving for greater livability and working on the front lines of the fight against climate change needs a modern, multimodal transportation infrastructure. We saw great progress on transportation this year, from the historic passage of ST3 which will expand LINK Light Rail service for decades to come, to the opening of new LINK Light Rail stations connecting downtown with Capitol Hill and the U-District, to the opening of the Westlake cycle track, recently named the best new bike lane in America by People for Bikes.
Seattle is a leader on climate action and is moving away from fossil fuels by promoting renewable energy, walkable urban villages and transit-oriented development. This year we launched Drive Clean Seattle, through which we’re accelerating adoption of electric vehicles in our municipal fleet and making dozens more EV charging stations available throughout the City.
We also took big steps on pedestrian and driver safety by adopting reduced speed limits as part of our Vision Zero initiative aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities by 2030.
While most of our efforts are focused locally, I’m a big believer that cities have a role to play in making the world a better place, and that we can and should learn from one another. This year Seattle continued to lead on climate action, equity and inclusion, and innovation, while forging stronger bonds with other communities committed to these efforts.
In May, Seattle was selected to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities Network, one of only 37 cities chosen from 325 applicants. As part of the 100RC Network, we’ll work to bolster our ability to deal with challenges now and in the future. I’m most excited that we are bringing equity to the table as a strategy for building greater economic and environmental resilience by ensuring solutions are informed by and accrue benefits to all in our community.
In December, I spoke at a climate conference in Mexico City and signed a memorandum of understanding with leaders of that city, pledging cooperation on trade, information technology, clean technology, creative industries, education, people-to-people exchanges, and other fields of common interest. Just as we’ll share innovative approaches taking shape in Seattle, we’ll continue to learn from other communities through these partnerships.
I’m proud of the progress we’ve made together this year, and excited by the opportunities that await in 2017. As this year comes to an end and we gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays and look forward to new beginnings, I want to thank all of you for your input, civic pride, kindness and generosity. I am proud to be the mayor of this great city and humbled by the actions of our passionate and dedicated community.
I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a bright new year.
Today, Mayor Ed Murray activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) ahead of a predicted snowstorm that could impact the Seattle area this evening and tomorrow morning. The EOC will manage the City’s response to impacts stemming from the storm. The EOC will begin operations at 5 p.m. today and will remain open as dictated by weather. The Joint Information Center (JIC) will also open and coordinate city-wide public communications pertaining to weather impacts.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting potential lowland snow in the Puget Sound area this evening and potentially into tomorrow morning. NWS is tracking another storm that could potentially reach the Seattle area Thursday.
In anticipation of cold temperatures, the Seattle Human Services Department has opened the emergency co-ed adult shelter at the Seattle Center Pavilion (305 Harrison St.) through Thursday, December 8th. This shelter will be open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and has room for 100 people. King County has also expanded capacity for 50 additional men at the King County Administration Building shelter (500 4th Avenue) through Tuesday, December 6th. Both shelters are operated by the Salvation Army.
In the event of snow and/or ice, City emergency planners urge residents to prepare their homes for cold weather, build emergency supply kits for homes and vehicles, and drive only when necessary. For more information on how to prepare for winter weather, please visit Take Winter By Storm. For up-to-date information pertaining to impacts in the City of Seattle please sign up for AlertSeattle at Alert.Seattle.gov
The JIC will serve as the main point-of-contact for media inquiries during the EOC activation. A media advisory from the JIC will be sent out with contact information and relevant public safety updates as the evening unfolds.
In anticipation of cold weather, the Seattle Human Services Department will open the emergency co-ed adult shelter at the Seattle Center Pavilion (305 Harrison St.) from Sunday, December 4th through Thursday, December 8th. This shelter will be open from 7 PM to 7 AM and has room for 100 people. King County is also expanding capacity for 50 additional men at the King County Administration Building shelter (500 4th Avenue) from Sunday, December 4ththrough Tuesday, December 6th. Both shelters are operated by the Salvation Army.
The National Weather Service is forecasting below freezing conditions late Sunday evening into the middle of next week, which could create a possibility of snow and ice in Seattle. Currently, the National Weather Service forecast predict that snow could potentially arrive on Monday afternoon and into Tuesday morning. For the most current forecast, please visit the National Weather Service website.
In the event of snow and/or ice, City emergency planners urge residents to prepare their homes for cold weather, build emergency supply kits for homes and vehicles, and not to drive unnecessarily. For more information on how to prepare for winter weather, please visit Take Winter By Storm. Additionally, for up-to-date information pertaining to impacts in the City of Seattle please sign up for AlertSeattle at Alert.Seattle.gov
The City of Seattle continues to monitor forecasts and City departments are preparing operations to respond to impacts from snow and ice.
Recently, I joined a group of public health officials from Seattle and Vancouver, Canada to tour Vancouver’s supervised injection site, Insite. One of the recommendations of the Heroin Task Force convened by County Executive Dow Constantine, myself and the Mayors of Renton and Auburn was to open multiple sites similar to this one, so the visit was an opportunity to learn about this effort from our neighbors.
The first thing that stood out was the number of lives they’ve saved; some 5,000 overdoses have occurred at Insite since its inception and yet there has not been a single fatality to date. This success in keeping people alive means that the public health teams in Vancouver then have the opportunity to help people move into treatment as part of the continuum of care for people with substance abuse disorders.
Ultimately, we as a city, a state and a nation need to do everything we can to help those facing substance abuse disorders and prevent others from experiencing addiction.
Other main takeaways from the our visit were how the location might differ from that of a more distributed model recommended for our area; the low-tech efficiency in how it was run and respect for space, staff and each other among users; and the operational tie-in with the public health services in Vancouver, which enables the facility to maintain its existence despite political changes.
A key issue faced by the facility is that it is not reaching female users to the extent needed, which is something that would need to be addressed by any plan to site facilities in this region.
Ultimately, we as a city, a state and a nation need to do everything we can to help those facing substance abuse disorders and prevent others from experiencing addiction. Just last week, the Seattle Police Department was able to revive a person who had overdosed by administering Naloxone, the twelfth time they have done so successfully since the program was implemented this spring. But we have to do more.
Visiting Insite was eye-opening, and it reinforced our need to do what the science tells us to do when it comes to addressing the national crisis of addiction. That means more work on the state and federal level to fund programs and support legislation that truly helps combat addiction, and it means ensuring our public health infrastructure is built in a way that quickly and adequately responds to those experiencing substance abuse disorders.
— Mayor Ed Murray
Today Mayor Ed Murray announced a new partnership between the City of Seattle, the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to provide stable housing for SPS families with school-age children, ensuring an uninterrupted school year and educational consistency. This partnership will begin as a pilot project at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School this year, where 17 percent of the students are homeless or unstably housed.
The Home from School pilot will offer assistance to families to find a stable home, get back on their feet and keep their children at Bailey Gatzert all year. To accomplish this goal, SHA will contract with a service provider to provide outreach, enrollment, and pre and post-move support, including services such as housing research, assistance with barriers to leasing and connecting families to neighborhood resources and services.
“The Home from School partnership is the kind of direct problem solving, innovation and risk taking we need to get our most vulnerable families on the path to stable home and futures.” said Mayor Murray. “For a city and state as wealthy and successful as Seattle and Washington, we cannot accept the reality that thousands of school aged kids are homeless. Through this partnership, we can work to ensure students and their families have a place to call home and an opportunity to succeed.”
More than 80 percent of students at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School qualify for Free and Reduced Priced Lunch and a significant number of these students have experienced complex trauma including housing instability and homelessness. The 2014-2015 student turnover rate for Bailey Gatzert Elementary School was 31 percent.
“This pilot complements Seattle Housing Authority’s long term commitment to redevelop the Yesler Neighborhood. SHA is in a unique position to positively impact school stability by providing long-term affordable housing options in the neighborhood for families experiencing homelessness, allowing continuity in their neighborhood school,” said Andrew Lofton, Executive Director of Seattle Housing Authority.
“The district is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of students experiencing housing instability. Ensuring uninterrupted educational opportunities for our students is a priority and foundational to their academic success. We are excited to be expanding our partnership with Seattle Housing Authority and the City to address this need,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland.
Participation in the program will be voluntary and priority will be given to families experiencing homelessness. This pilot initiative will begin at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in the Yesler neighborhood, but if results are promising SHA may in the future expand the initiative to different schools in different neighborhoods.
Seattle Public Schools: Seattle Public Schools is committed to ensuring equitable access, closing the opportunity gaps and excellence in education for every student.
Seattle Housing Authority
The mission of the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is to enhance the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and self-sufficiency for people with low incomes. SHA provides long-term, low-income rental housing and rental assistance to more than 30,000 people in the City of Seattle. SHA owns and operates approximately 8,000 units at nearly 400 sites throughout the city. SHA also handles more than 10,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, enabling low-income residents to receive rental assistance throughout the Seattle housing market. Approximately 13,000 SHA residents are elderly or disabled and about 9,500 are children. SHA, a public corporation established in 1939, is governed by a seven-member Board of Commissioners, two of whom are SHA residents. Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. More information is available at seattlehousing.org.