Seattle selected to join 100 Resilient Cities Network

Mayor Ed Murray welcomed Seattle’s selection into a global network of cities building urban resilience as part of the 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). Through the partnership, Seattle will soon hire its first-ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), to lead the city’s efforts to build a citywide Resilience Strategy – with support from 100RC on its creation and implementation.

Selection for the 100RC Network was highly competitive. Seattle was one of only 37 cities chosen from more than 325 applicants on the basis of their willingness, ability, and need to prepare for future challenges.

“We are honored to be selected to join this important network of cities from across the globe and we look forward to partnering with 100 Resilient Cities to develop creative solutions to some of our biggest challenges including natural disasters, climate change, and inequity,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This funding, partnership, and global network will help us address the disproportionate risks for Seattle’s communities of color and residents with lower incomes, a key action of our Equity & Environmental Initiative.”

With the number of people living in urban areas rapidly increasing, the 100RC Network was established by The Rockefeller Foundation to help cities prepare for the impacts of urbanization, globalization, and climate change. As a member of the 100RC Network, Seattle will gain access to tools, funding, technical expertise, and other resources to help our city meet the challenges of the 21st century.

As part of the 100RC Network, Seattle will be eligible to receive grant funding to hire a CRO, who will lead the citywide resilience-building process. In the coming months, Mayor Murray, along with his Offices of Sustainability & Environment, Policy & Innovation, and Emergency Management, will work with stakeholders to identify and appoint the City’s Chief Resilience Officer.

“We are so proud to welcome Seattle to 100 Resilient Cities,” 100RC President Michael Berkowitz said. “We selected Seattle because of its leaders’ commitment to resilience building and the innovative and proactive way they’ve been thinking about the challenges the city faces. We’re excited to get to work.”

“For us, a resilient city has good emergency response and meets its citizens’ needs,” Berkowitz continued. “It has diverse economies and takes care of both its built and natural infrastructure. It has effective leadership, empowered stakeholders, and an integrated planning system. All of those things are essential for a resilient city.”

About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.

City, State to begin implementing next steps for I-5 and East Duwamish Greenbelt

Mayor Ed Murray and Governor Jay Inslee are initiating next steps to improve public safety and public health in the area under I-5 and in the East Duwamish Greenbelt along the freeway in South Seattle.

“Seattle and the State of Washington will work together to address decades-old safety and public health issues under I-5,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Through a combination of outreach and services, as well as better access for first responders, we hope to transition those currently living in tents under the freeway into stable shelter, while supporting public safety in the area.”

“This is a person-centered approach with the necessary supports to shift people into more stable housing,” Inslee said. “I am pleased that the city of Seattle, King County, and the state are working together to assist those in need. The issues with the I-5 green belt are symptomatic of larger problems that we are working on with communities and partners around the state to alleviate homelessness for children, veterans, low-income workers and those with substance abuse or mental health issues.”

The City and State will take steps to: (1) transition people living in unsanctioned encampments under the freeway with meaningful offers of shelter and services; (2) clean up major health hazards, including human waste and garbage, and remove overgrown brush and other fire hazards; (3) improve access to the area for first responders and maintenance workers; and (4) engage a design consultant to make recommendations for deterring entry in dangerous locations and provide positive activation of other public areas.

Outreach teams from Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission will work for several weeks to build relationships with current occupants and offer outreach with offers of shelter and individualized services: case management, addiction treatment, housing assistance, food assistance and medical services. Mission will not be accepting funds from the City or State for outreach activities, but those contacted will have access to publicly funded shelter space, motel vouchers and travel assistance, as appropriate.

“We are encouraged to see the City and State address one of the most problematic areas in our community and look forward to partnering with them in this work,” said Jeff Lilley, president of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.  “We know many of these people by name and their unique situations. Whether someone struggles with mental illness, is in need of recovery services, qualifies for veteran’s aid, or has other challenges, we will connect them to social service providers who can best offer the help they need.”

After people have left the unsanctioned encampments, public health hazards, debris, overgrown brush, and fire hazards under the freeway will be removed by Departments of Transportation (WSDOT) and Corrections (DOC). Seattle Parks and Recreation will remove overgrown vegetation and debris from the greenbelt hillside above the freeway.

WSDOT will enhance and maintain the existing gravel roads that run alongside the freeway to improve access by first responders, maintenance workers and outreach teams.

Washington State’s 2016 Supplemental Transportation Budget allocated $1 million which will be used in all steps of the plan. Funding for outreach and services, as well as removing overgrown brush from the greenbelt, will be absorbed within existing City funding in 2016.

The City of Seattle will hire an independent consultant to engage the Seattle City Council and a diverse group of stakeholders within local government and the community to identify and recommend options for access management and future uses. The goal of access management is to allow maintenance crews and law enforcement to better serve the area, not to create an impenetrable barrier or fence. The consultant will also identify and recommend potential long-term activation strategies in areas where the space under the interstate allows for alternate uses. The state, county and city will review the final report and jointly agree on a path forward.

Seattle will spend nearly $50 million this year providing outreach, services and shelter for those experiencing homelessness, including $7 million approved following the mayor’s declaration of a State of Emergency.

On January 26, 2016, five people were shot and three killed under the freeway. A joint assessment of the area was led by Seattle Fire Chief Harold D. Scoggins. Participating agencies from the City of Seattle, King County and the State of Washington included WSDOT, Seattle Human Services Department, Public Health – Seattle & King County and other partners.

 

Mayor Murray releases 20-year growth plan for Seattle

2035

Mayor Ed Murray today transmitted his proposal to update Seattle’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan to the Seattle City Council. Seattle 2035 focuses on equitable growth as Seattle expects gain 120,000 residents, 115,000 jobs, and 70,000 housing units over the next two decades.

“Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and while this growth provides a booming economy, we must continue to focus that development in livable, walkable neighborhoods with the amenities that help people thrive,” said Murray. “With this comprehensive plan, we will build a more equitable future for all residents with better access to the affordable homes, jobs, transit, and parks that make Seattle vibrant.”

Development of Seattle 2035 has been ongoing since 2013. The final proposal was informed by thousands of comments, 57 public presentations and 2,600 people participating in public meetings.

Seattle 2035 includes goals and policies, including those that:

  • Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
  • Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
  • Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
  • Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordabibility and Livability Agenda (HALA)
  • Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
  • Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services

Seattle 2035 incorporates principles of the City’s Equitable Development initiative and new policies in almost every element of the plan specifically identify ways in which the City can reduce the risk of displacement for marginalized populations and improve their access to opportunities.

The policies in the plan governing industrial lands remain relatively stable. The mayor has begun a series of conversations with industrial and maritime stakeholders to develop new supports for their industries while balancing other pressures on land use in the City.

The plan and related legislation will be introduced to the Seattle City Council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning committee, chaired by Councilmember Rob Johnson, later this month.

Seattle 2035 represents years of work by so many here at the City and also reflects the feedback of thousands of Seattle residents,” said Councilmember Johnson. “The City of Seattle has always used the Comprehensive Plan to set ambitious goals related to sustainability, and I am so glad to hear that this update reflects a similar degree of ambition to combat Seattle’s equity and affordability crisis. I look forward to seeing the final plan and bringing it before my fellow Councilmembers.”

Seattle is required by Washington State’s Growth Management Act to periodically update its Comprehensive Plan. The last major update of the plan was in 2004. Seattle 2035 is consistent with State and County growth policies.

In 1994, Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan was approved. The 1994 Comprehensive Plan was based around an Urban Village strategy. The Urban Village strategy designated certain neighborhoods as Urban Centers or Urban Villages and encouraged the development of new housing, jobs, and transit options within these areas. Over the past 20 years, about 75 percent of new housing and jobs have located in Urban Villages or Urban Centers, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole issue statements on May Day violence

Today, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement after five Seattle police officers were injured during violent May Day protests:

“I want to thank the Seattle Police Department for its extraordinary work today to protect the safety of people and property during this year’s May Day events,” Mayor Murray said. “It is unfortunate and deeply regrettable that in a City that goes to incredible lengths to respect First Amendment rights, there are some who disregard our values and engage in senseless acts of violence and property destruction. This City condemns any acts of physical violence against our police officers, and my thoughts are with the officers who were injured.”

Nine people were arrested after windows were broken, and protesters lit fireworks, and threw rocks, flares and several Molotov cocktails at police officers.

“Seattle Police Department supports peaceful protest, but has zero tolerance for any acts of violence towards persons, police and property,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “While we hope for peaceful demonstrations, we need to be prepared for the unexpected. Officers underwent enhanced crowd management training and developed a comprehensive preparation plan for May Day, and the numerous protests that take place in our city year round. We will review today’s events in order to continue to improve our crowd management practices. I want to thank all of officers for their service, particularly the five who were injured. My thoughts are with you.”

Mayor Murray and Chief O’Toole visited the injured police officers at Harborview Medical Center this evening.

Seattle first Northwest city to achieve national Emergency Management accreditation

The City of Seattle’s emergency management program was accredited by the national Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) Commission at their spring meeting in Lexington, Kentucky.  Seattle becomes the first city in the four-state FEMA region to achieve accreditation. This achievement highlights commitment of the City and the Office of Emergency Management’s (OEM) to improving emergency preparedness, responsiveness, and recovery.

“While there is no way to predict when a natural hazard, accident or incident occurs, we will continue to prepare and plan for how to best respond to crisis in order to save lives and coordinate recovery,” said Mayor Murray. “I applaud the hard-work of our emergency planners and staff for achieving this accreditation—demonstrating that public preparedness and safety remains the top priority for first responders, emergency staff, and City leaders.”

EMAP is a set of professional standards developed for emergency management programs designed to demonstrate that programs have thoughtfully studied the impacts their communities face, developed emergency plans, trained, educated, and exercised appropriately for those hazards.  Seattle’s OEM developed documents and protocols over the course of several years to address:

·         Emergency authorities

·         Hazard identification and mitigation

·         Prevention

·         Operational readiness

·         Incident management

·         Resource management and logistics

·         Mutual aid

·         Communications and warning

·         Operations and procedures

·         Facility readiness

·         Training, exercises, and corrective actions

·         Public education and information

“Accreditation is the stamp of approval by subject matter experts from around the nation – providing Seattle a formal recognition by third party professionals as to the quality of the City’s emergency preparedness efforts,” said Barb Graff, Director of the Office of Emergency Management. “It shows the City’s commitment to excellence in emergency management.”

A team of emergency management subject matter experts from across the country spent a week in Seattle last September reviewing OEM documents to certify that Seattle’s program met each of the 64 standard elements.  The EMAP Commission, based upon that assessment, granted 5-year accreditation to the City of Seattle.

Preparing for emergencies collaborative effort between City departments, the Mayor’s office, City Council, community stakeholders.  Major emergency preparedness and public safety milestones in the last several years have included the production of a hazards interactive map, updating of all of the City’s emergency plans, and adaptation of public education materials all available atwww.seattle.gov/emergency .

Murray proposes funding plan for additional police officers

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

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

“Public safety is the paramount duty of local government,” said Murray. “As one of the fastest growing cities in America, we face serious strains on our public safety resources that must be addressed. Today, I am proposing a specific funding plan for public safety investments that strikes a balance between new revenues and reprioritizing existing resources.”

The addition of 200 officers by the end of 2019 would grow Seattle Police Department to 1,464 officers, the highest in the history of the department. This level of expansion is in line with the recently completed police staffing study conducted by Berkshire Advisors.

“We must also ensure that we are using existing police resources most effectively, especially with regard to crime prevention,” said Murray. “We will enhance our community engagement and outreach, police visibility, and proactive relationship-building across the city.”

The cost of the new 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 other $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.

Seattle is already on track to hire 120 additional officers by 2017, a commitment made the mayor made in 2014.

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.

Last week, Murray announced that he had identified existing funds to construct a new $160 million North Precinct and would not send a public safety levy to the voters in 2016 or 2017.

SPD, Seattle Public Schools parter to expand Safe Place program

Mayor Ed Murray, along with Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland, announced today that Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) “Safe Place” will expand to all 98 Seattle Public Schools. SPD Safe Place is a public education and visibility program aimed at preventing and responding to anti-LGBTQ bias crimes.

“While we see a rolling back of civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in some corners of the country, Seattle remains inclusive and welcoming to all people,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “SPD Safe Place brings together businesses, community organizations, and the public to stand up against hate and intolerance. I applaud Seattle Public Schools for bringing this important program to our schools, empowering students to speak out against anti-LGBTQ harassment.”

Launched in May of 2015, SPD Safe Place is a voluntary program that provides businesses and organizations with decals and information on how to report malicious harassment, more commonly known as hate crimes. Training for these organizations includes when and how to call 911, sheltering victims of crime until police arrived, and proactive outreach about working with the SPD’s LGBT liaison officer.

“We are thrilled that SPD Safe Place is growing through a partnership with Seattle Public Schools,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We want to create a safe, inclusive community for everyone and are encouraged by the ongoing support we have received for this program.”

“Our district is proud to partner with the City and the Seattle Police Department to make all of our schools Safe Places,” said Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland. “This is a continuation of our commitment to ensuring all our students feel safe and equal in our schools”

SPD Safe Place program has reached 1,600 locations. Businesses, organizations and educational institutions can request SPD Safe Place placards or posters and learn about how to work with police to prevent and address anti-LGBT crime concerns at http://www.seattle.gov/spd-safe-place/.

Mayor announces Executive Order protecting transgender rights

Mayor Ed Murray will sign an Executive Order next week instructing the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to provide guidance and training to City departments on the City’s groundbreaking all-gender public accommodation ordinance.

“Seattle must remain a safe place for the transgender and gender-diverse community. I’m committed to taking every step we can to make our public facilities safe and welcoming for all,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “City staff will receive additional resources and trainings to ensure that members of our transgender and gender-diverse communities are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The Executive Order mandates culturally responsive training for all relevant front-line staff at City departments, such as Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Seattle Center, and the Seattle Public Library, in partnership with the Pride Foundation. Additionally, the order directs OCR to develop procedures for staff that create safe and inclusive single-gender facilities.

“Transgender people are part of our workplaces, classrooms, neighborhoods, families, communities, and places of worship—and need to be able to use public facilities without fear of harassment or discrimination simply because of who they are,” said Kris Hermanns, Executive Director of the Pride Foundation. “We are grateful for the leadership of Mayor Murray to affirm that our laws do not exclude transgender people.”

“All of us, including transgender people, care about privacy and safety in public facilities. Transgender people have safely been using public facilities consistent with the gender they live as every day for the last ten years,” said Seth Kirby, Vice Chair of the Pride Foundation and Executive Director of the Oasis Youth Center. “I look forward to educating our community about ways to ensure safety and privacy in public facilities for all, especially transgender individuals, because transgender people are 53% more likely to experience discrimination, harassment, and violence in places of public accommodation.”

“The City of Seattle has a longstanding commitment to upholding the rights and dignity of all people,” said Patricia Lally, Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. “The Mayor’s Executive Order serves as a reminder that the City is steadfast in this commitment.  The Seattle Office for Civil Rights looks forward to working with the Mayor and our community partners to deliver training on the rights of transgender and gender-diverse people, and on creating an environment that is inclusive for everyone.”

In August of 2015, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed Mayor Murray’s proposal requiring all City-controlled and privately operated places of public accommodation to designate existing and future single-stall restrooms as all-gender facilities. The legislation also clarifies existing law allowing individuals to use the restroom of their chosen gender identity or expression. The legislation was a recommendation from the Mayor’s LGBTQ Task Force and the City of Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission.

Seattle, King County unsheltered homelessness continues to rise

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Mayor Ed Murray and over 1,000 volunteers spent the early hours of Friday participating in the One Night Count to survey Seattle and King County, estimating how many people were sleeping outside, in tents and vehicles, without access to shelter.

As expected, the numbers of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness are on the rise. In Seattle, volunteers estimated they witnessed 2,942 people sleeping outside, a five percent increase from last January’s count. Across King County, the number has risen to 4,505 unsheltered people, up 19 percent from a year ago.

“Last night’s count reflects what we all see on the streets of our city – that we have a growing crisis of homelessness in our community,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “While large cities are often the focus of this debate, homelessness is growing in suburban communities and smaller towns across our state. We must pursue a coordinated approach – in Puget Sound, in Washington state and across the country – as we respond to this national crisis.”

On Nov. 2, 2015, Murray declared a state of emergency in the homelessness crisis in Seattle, in coordination with King County Executive Dow Constantine. Within days, the Seattle City Council approved an additional $7 million in emergency funding for additional shelter spaces, safe parking lots for those living in vehicles, and additional outreach services to those living on the street.

Murray has called for more federal and state assistance to respond to the growing need, citing underfunded national and state initiatives for affordable housing, mental health and chemical dependency.

“As homelessness in the Seattle/King County continues to grow, the City’s work to address the immediate need to get people off the street and into stable housing and the longer-term effort to more strategically invest the City’s nearly $50 million in homelessness programs and services is more important than ever,” said Catherine Lester, Seattle Human Services Department Director.  “The City is committed to continuing to coordinate with regional government partners, service providers and the faith community to build a strategy that is focused on an integrated system of early interventions and access to housing which are critical to end homelessness.”

Mayor Murray calls for end of divisive rhetoric on homelessness

Today Mayor Ed Murray delivered a special, live address to the residents of Seattle to give an update on the City’s efforts to address homelessness since the State of Emergency was declared on Nov. 2, 2015. The Mayor delivered his remarks from Mary’s Place Family Center in North Seattle, a shelter for women and families that currently operates in a City-owned building and was expanded after the emergency declaration.

The full video of Mayor Murray’s speech will be available at http://www.seattlechannel.org/Mayor.

PDF of the Mayor’s remarks HERE.

Key excerpts from Mayor Murray’s speech:

 “Too often we think about this as a Seattle problem with a Seattle solution. But this is a national tragedy. It should be a national emergency and it needs a national response. The reasons for the growing crisis of homelessness are many, and they are complex.”

 “In one tent on our streets, you may find a family that lost their home in a personal financial crisis. Go on down the street to another unauthorized encampment, you will find a person who is struggling in the grips of addiction. In another tent, will be someone who is either dealing drugs or systematically engaging in property crimes to feed his or her habit. There is no single solution to all of these situations. That is why the polarized, one-size-fits-all rhetoric we increasingly hear from both sides is unhelpful.”

 “So part of what I am asking today is that we challenge each other to do better without denigrating each other.  Instead of cooperation and a shared voice, we have seen too much division and extreme rhetoric about who homeless people are and how to solve the crisis.”

 “On a personal note, the most painful part of this discussion has been the vilification and degradation of homeless people — at public meetings, on the radio and in social media — as filthy, drug addicted criminals.  Often these attacks have gone unchallenged…Anyone who has known, as I have, a friend or family member in the grip of destructive addiction, or watched mental illness destroy a person’s life and often the lives of their loved ones, knows just how harsh and dreadful this experience can be for the person we love.”

 “As a City dedicated to racial equity and social justice, we cannot ignore the fact that African Americans and Native Americans are five times more likely to experience homelessness. Four out of five children who experience homelessness are children of color.”

 “I continue to hear from some advocates, joined by some members of the Council, who say that even with our unprecedented level of spending, we are still not doing enough. They seem to believe that we can solve this problem, by ourselves, regardless of the consequences. The reality is, to provide emergency shelter to the almost 3,000 people that remain on our streets would cost us another 49 million dollars a year – or double our current investment.”

 “With expanded services, long-term system reforms and an aggressive approach to housing affordability, Seattle is stretched to our limits.  Yet, this is a crisis driven by forces larger than this City, and responding will require resources from more than just this City.  This is why I declared a State of Emergency.  We cannot afford to wait.”

 “The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has looked at how Seattle spends its money. For years, they have urged us to adopt an approach that is person-centered, uses data to invest in what works, and is aligned with our federal partners. But our City has been unable for decades to gather the political courage to make this shift. I will propose that the city enact these recommendations, creating a new strategy based on outcomes, rather than our current method of simply funding projects and agencies in a fragmented way that does not result in a reduction of homelessness.”

 “I will engage Council, if they believe that Seattle should solve this crisis on its own, to propose how we should cut 49 million dollars from our existing budget. But we must ask ourselves: Should we ignore our community centers in low-income neighborhoods that need more programming? Do we halt construction of sidewalks in neighborhoods without them? Do we cut enforcement of our newly-won worker protections? Should we not extend paid parental leave? And do we lay off hundreds of City employees? Either we believe Seattle is doing our part and we advocate together for more state and federal resources, or we begin this exercise to cut $49 million dollars from other priorities in order to fund basic emergency shelter — that will still not move people out of homelessness. Now is the time for us to make this decision and to end this argument.”

Full text of Mayor Murray’s remarks, as prepared:

“Good evening and thank you for joining me.  Tonight I want to speak to you, the people of Seattle, about the growing crisis of homelessness, but also about public health, public safety and the disorder that we see on our streets.

 “This is a difficult conversation that we as a city have been engaged in, not just in recent months, but for several decades.

 “The reasons for homelessness are complex and ending homelessness will not be solved easily or quickly. There are no simple solutions. It will take time.

 “I am speaking to you tonight from Mary’s Place, which serves 200 women, men and children in a warm and caring environment. These families find a safe harbor from domestic violence, from extreme poverty, from addiction, and from the dangers of the street.

 “This shelter is located temporarily on City property. It is here because we engaged in creative problem-solving with Mary’s Place to respond to this growing need.

 “The director, Marty Hartman, and her team here at Mary’s Place are working miracles, saving lives every day.

 “Homelessness is a crisis – a growing crisis – not just here in Seattle, but in cities across the nation, up and down the West Coast, from San Diego to Portland. And it’s not just a crisis of our largest cities, but also a crisis of our suburbs and smaller towns: places like Bellingham, Eugene and Santa Cruz.

“Tonight in America, more than half a million people are homeless. And nearly 200,000 go to sleep without any shelter.

 “Before the Great Recession, there were 13,000 children in Washington state who were homeless. Today, that number has grown to 32,000 children statewide. This year, in Seattle alone, the number of homeless school-age children in our public schools has risen to 3,000.

 “As a City dedicated to racial equity and social justice, we cannot ignore the fact that African Americans and Native Americans are five times more likely to experience homelessness. Four out of five children who experience homelessness are children of color.

 “Too often we think about this as a Seattle problem with a Seattle solution. But this is a national tragedy. It should be a national emergency and it needs a national response.

 “The reasons for the growing crisis of homelessness are many, and they are complex.

 “It is caused by 35 years of federal cuts to affordable housing. In the last 5 years alone, we have lost one-third of our federal funding for affordable housing.

 “Last year, 19,000 Seattle households applied to be on the waitlist for a federal housing voucher.

 “Federal financial support for housing assistance has plummeted by more than half since 1980.

 “Over that same period, there has been a five-fold increase in federal tax breaks for higher-income homeowners.

 “For some, homelessness is caused by a mental health crisis. Our state has the second highest rate of mental illness, yet ranks near the bottom in access to treatment. We rank 46th in the nation in access to in-patient psychiatric care. This itself is a disaster and must be addressed.

 “Sometimes, homelessness is caused by drug addiction. We are in the midst of one of the largest heroin epidemics in our country’s history. Addiction is on the rise in every community across the nation – urban, rural and suburban – in New Hampshire, in Kentucky, in Oklahoma and across the Pacific Northwest.

 “In King County, in the past two 2 years, deaths by heroin overdose have risen 60 percent.

 “Homelessness is also caused by the rising cost of housing. Nationwide, we need more affordable housing options, and we fail to do enough to prevent people from falling into homelessness. According to the Urban Institute, there is no county in America that has sufficient affordable housing.

 “And, finally, homelessness is only made worse by our own broken system of how we deliver services to those who experience homelessness. We have some extraordinary programs, but our approach is fragmented and not achieving the impact we need.

 “We cannot continue to fund programs simply because they have political support, even if they do not work.

 “We are allowing temporary shelter to be a dead end for too many families and individuals. Some people spend months or years living in a shelter, without a path to permanent housing. This is unacceptable.

 “We see the tents under the freeway. Run down RVs parked in our neighborhoods. People with signs on our sidewalks that read, ‘Disabled veteran. Anything helps.’

“This is what income inequality looks like. This is what a disappearing middle class looks like. This is what happens when the federal government inadequately funds affordable housing, addiction treatment, and other critically needed support services. This is what happens when we fail to reform our broken service delivery system.

 “It shouldn’t surprise any of us that after 3 and a half decades of declining federal investments and a shrinking middle class, that it would result in the crisis that we see on our streets.

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“In November, I declared a state of emergency because 66 homeless people died on Seattle streets last year. This was an extraordinary action to take, and King County Executive Dow Constantine and I took it because we are dealing with an extraordinary crisis.

 “The City Council agreed, and using emergency powers together, in just a few days, we dedicated over seven million dollars in new one-time funding. That is in addition to the more than 40 million dollars in ongoing funding for homelessness.

 “Since the emergency declaration, we have opened more than 300 additional safe spaces – in Downtown for couples, in Queen Anne for senior men, in Greenwood for women, and two sanctioned tent encampments in Ballard and Interbay that serve individuals and families.

 “Just last week, we expanded here at Mary’s Place, to provide emergency shelter for up to 100 women and children.

 “And to assist people living in their vehicles, we announced last week that we will open 2 safe lots for cars and RVs — where individuals and families can find a safer place to sleep, and have access to sanitation and social services, as we transition them into housing.

 “As a City, we now provide a safe space for nearly 2,000 people every night, an increase of over 20 percent in just one year.

 “We are also bringing new services to the streets. Starting this month, a mobile medical van is moving throughout the city to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment, and access to medical care.

 “And this week, we are requesting that the state take even greater responsibility for reaching out to homeless people on underpasses and on-ramps of state highways that pass through our city. This is an area where we can continue to strengthen our partnership with the state.

 “But emergency responses, alone, are not the answer. Too much of the debate, energy and resources have been focused on these short-term strategies. We must shift that focus to longer-term solutions.

 “The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has looked at how Seattle spends its money. For years, they have urged us to adopt an approach that is person-centered, uses data to invest in what works, and is aligned with our federal partners.

 “But our City has been unable for decades to gather the political courage to make this shift.

 “I will propose that the city enact these recommendations, creating a new strategy based on outcomes, rather than our current method of simply funding projects and agencies in a fragmented way that does not result in a reduction of homelessness.

 “I will propose that we shift more resources toward diverting families and individuals from ever becoming homeless.

“We must shift from simply putting mats on the floor in shelters to funding services that move people out of shelters and into permanent housing. I will propose that we invest in providers that succeed in doing this.

 “We know very little about each person living in those tents – what causes them to become homeless and what is keeping them there. Unless we understand the problems affecting each individual, how can we provide an effective solution? We will collect better data without threatening individual privacy or service provider funding. And I ask our service providers to work with us on this.

 “With King County Executive Dow Constantine, we will convene all public partners and our non-profit providers to align our resources to better support outcomes.

 “And as we address the underlying causes of homelessness, we must continue to focus on housing affordability. Part of the solution to ending homelessness is getting affordability right.

 “Our region has already made significant investments in affordable housing, especially through the Seattle

Housing Levy. Our region is third in the nation, behind only New York and Los Angeles, in providing 8,300 homes for people who were homeless.

 “But this is not enough and we will do more.

 “Beginning tonight at City Hall, we are holding community meetings across Seattle to share our city’s vision for how we bring affordable housing to every neighborhood.

 “And in just a few weeks, I will lay out my vision for the renewal of Seattle’s Housing Levy. I am proposing that we double the levy so that we can do much more — including permanent housing for those who are homeless. 

 “Perhaps as a city, there is nothing more important that we can do this year than pass this levy.

 “With expanded services, long-term system reforms and an aggressive approach to housing affordability, Seattle is stretched to our limits. 

 “Yet, this is a crisis driven by forces larger than this City, and responding will require resources from more than just this City.  This is why I declared a State of Emergency.  We cannot afford to wait.

 “If there had been an earthquake, if there had been a flood that had killed 66 people, the City would ask for and expect aid from the State and Federal government.  And while this crisis has developed over time, the effects have been equally devastating.

 “With our State of Emergency, my hope was that we would come together, marshalling our resources to help where we can, recognizing the limits of what we can achieve alone, and working together to develop a unified call to Olympia and to Washington, DC. 

 “With our new emergency funding, the City of Seattle will spend nearly 50 million dollars this year to serve our homeless neighbors – more than at any time in our city’s history.

 “Yet I continue to hear from some advocates, joined by some members of the Council, who say that even with our unprecedented level of spending, we are still not doing enough. They seem to believe that we can solve this problem, by ourselves, regardless of the consequences.

 “The reality is, to provide emergency shelter to the almost 3,000 people that remain on our streets would cost us another 49 million dollars a year – or double our current investment.

“I will engage Council, if they believe that Seattle should solve this crisis on its own, to propose how we should cut 49 million dollars from our existing budget.

 “But we must ask ourselves: Should we ignore our community centers in low-income neighborhoods that need more programming? Do we halt construction of sidewalks in neighborhoods without them? Do we cut enforcement of our newly-won worker protections? Should we not extend paid parental leave? And do we lay off hundreds of City employees?

 “Either we believe Seattle is doing our part and we advocate together for more state and federal resources, or we begin this exercise to cut $49 million dollars from other priorities in order to fund basic emergency shelter — that will still not move people out of homelessness.

 “Now is the time for us to make this decision and to end this argument.

 “To me, those are unacceptable trade-offs. We are a city of over 650,000 residents, and we must serve them all. 

 “There is much work to be done. Working together, there is much we can accomplish.

 “I believe that we can come together to build a new federal agenda to support affordable housing and to address homelessness in America. I have seen this done before.

 “As a young man, I watched my friends die from HIV AIDS. I also saw a community come together, build a coalition and go to Olympia and to Washington, D.C.

 “We successfully pushed federal and state governments to change policy and fund programs that are still saving lives today.

 “I believe we can do it again.

 “So part of what I am asking today is that we challenge each other to do better without denigrating each other.

Instead of cooperation and a shared voice, we have seen too much division and extreme rhetoric about who homeless people are and how to solve the crisis.

 “In one tent on our streets, you may find a family that lost their home in a personal financial crisis. Go on down the street to another unauthorized encampment, you will find a person who is struggling in the grips of addiction. In another tent, will be someone who is either dealing drugs or systematically engaging in property crimes to feed his or her habit.

 “There is no single solution to all of these situations. That is why the polarized, one-size-fits-all rhetoric we increasingly hear from both sides is unhelpful.

 “Some say that we are conducting inhumane “sweeps,” where all we do is force people out of unauthorized encampments, leaving them nowhere else to go.

 “Others claim that we are doing nothing, and tolerating dangerous criminal behavior, including open drug dealing and property crimes.

 “Neither of those views describe our efforts. We have adopted a middle approach, one that treats homelessness humanely, but also doesn’t shy away from doing what we must to address the public health and safety risks that a small number of people are creating in our city. 

“Our approach has been to enter unauthorized encampments, to connect those living there with shelter and services, and a substantial number are beginning to accept that offer.  We are cleaning up garbage, human waste and needles, as any City should, to avoid a public health crisis.

 “I do not believe it is humane to allow someone to camp on a freeway on-ramp where they easily could be struck and killed by a car. Or above a freeway where some have fallen to their deaths. Or in encampments where some have been murdered or raped. Instead, we go in and we offer services to get them out.

 “Is it humane to allow someone to struggle in the grips of addiction without professional help? We must reach out and offer access to the treatment that could save their lives.

 “We must acknowledge that in some cases, when people are struggling with addiction, some engage in criminal activity that harms our community and threatens the safety of those living in our neighborhoods.

 “I understand why some residents in our neighborhoods are upset about incidents of property crime and criminal activity. But some are also perpetuating a myth that we have ordered our police officers not to enforce existing laws. This is untrue.

 “This administration inherited a demoralized police force that had a declining number of officers and was stuck in cycle of de-policing. Crime was going up in our city. But under the leadership of Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, morale has been restored and crime is now coming down across this city.

 “We are pursuing those who are engaged in open drug dealing or property crimes. We have more officers on the street and increased emphasis in neighborhoods with the highest rates of crime.

 “We have added officers, and are on track to meet our goal of increasing our police force by at least 100 additional officers by the end of 2017.

 “Let me give you another example of the hurtful rhetoric. Some advocates have recently been making outrageous claims that our efforts to clean up unauthorized encampments are a plot to drive people who are unsheltered farther into the shadows, so they won’t be captured in the annual One Night Count later this week.

 “In other words, that we are trying to minimize the scope of the problem, when in fact we are doing just the opposite. 

 “I made the emergency declaration precisely because I know the problem is growing, and I want all of us to come together to solve it by seeking additional aid.

 “I believe that we can make progress. We can do better with what we have. We can fix the broken parts of our service delivery system. We can put aside the polarizing rhetoric and our outdated thinking. We can come together to find common ground.

 “As a Seattle Times columnist wrote this week, the reality of the problem we face means that we must address both sides of the same coin — enforce the laws, but also provide a path out.

 “As we work to address this crisis, I hear the frustration coming from all sides. 

 “I hear your frustrations when we locate shelter services in your neighborhood.

 “I hear your frustrations with our slowness in addressing unsafe and unsanitary conditions in some unauthorized encampments.

 “I hear your frustrations that we are not delivering the right mix of services to those living on our streets.

 “I hear your frustrations, and I share them. I know we are not always getting it right.

 “But the fact is, we are in the midst of a growing national crisis of homelessness. People are dying on our streets.

 “We are working on a complex problem in real time.

 “I ask that you work with us, so that we can create positive change.

 “On a personal note, the most painful part of this discussion has been the vilification and degradation of homeless people — at public meetings, on the radio and in social media — as filthy, drug addicted criminals.

 “Often these attacks have gone unchallenged.

 “Dorothy Day, the co-founder of the Catholic Worker, who spent her life among homeless people in New York City, often quoted Dostoevsky, who wrote, ‘Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared to love in dreams.’

 “Anyone who has known, as I have, a friend or family member in the grip of destructive addiction, or watched mental illness destroy a person’s life and often the lives of their loved ones, knows just how harsh and dreadful this experience can be for the person we love.

 “The hurtful language we hear is devastating not just to the people who are homeless but to any of us who know similar struggles of those we love.

“The reality is the people on the streets of our city are living harsh and dreadful lives.

“Ending homelessness will be as difficult as any challenge we face as a city.

“I believe Seattle can do this, by listening to each other, by challenging each other, by collaborating with each other. And above all, by respecting those who are suffering.

“Thank you and good night.”