City of Seattle, Seattle Housing Authority and Seattle Public Schools announce new Home from School partnership pilot

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.

 

 

 

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Mayor releases plan to guide growth, investments in U District

After five years of community engagement and more than 90 public meetings, the City of Seattle today released the plan for growth and coordinated public investments in the U District. As the neighborhood continues to change rapidly, today’s announcement will guide future density for affordability and livability.

“This is an exciting day for the U District as we roll out our shared vision for the future of the neighborhood,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Over the last five years, hundreds of U District residents have contributed their opinions on how to build a more livable, walkable neighborhood as Sound Transit light rail comes to the community. And for the first time, all new development will contribute to affordable housing. Together we can shape a U District that reflects our values.”

With the Sound Transit’s U District Link light rail station opening in 2021, the City’s plan focuses future housing and employment density in areas with excellent access to the transit station.

The plan’s proposed zoning changes respond to community priorities for rigorous design standards that requires new public spaces, attractive buildings, and active street fronts. New incentives will encourage sidewalk improvements, space for social services, and childcare centers in private development. Other incentives will help preserve historic buildings and the pedestrian shopping district of the Ave.

“The University District has such a unique character – our students, faculty, and staff of the University bring a vibrant diversity to the community, and the neighborhood’s access to public transit, jobs, and local businesses make it an attractive place to live,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson. “But due to the pace at which Seattle is growing, we need to take bold and critical action to ensure that it remains an affordable place to live.

The proposed zoning changes here in the University District are the result of a four year process which has involved over 90 meetings and hundreds of participants. I want to thank everyone who, through their hard work and their feedback, has gotten us to this critical milestone today.”

As the neiaffordable-housingghborhood grows, Seattle’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) ordinances will require all developers of multifamily and commercial buildings to build or fund affordable homes.

The City estimates that the MHA requirements that come with greater development capacity will create hundreds of new affordable homes. Without the proposed zoning changes that trigger MHA requirements, Seattle’s existing incentive zoning programs are projected to yield only an estimated additional 20 income-restricted homes built by private developers.

“As an organization that provides housing for low-income people every day, Bellwether is very excited to see the passage of this important legislation,” said Susan Boyd of Bellwether Housing. “By implementing MHA, we can create high quality, affordable homes for more low-wage working families in neighborhoods like the University District – close to great schools, great public resources, and rich job centers.   Funds from the MHA’s predecessor, the Incentive Zoning Program, is what made our 133-unit Arbora Court project in the heart of the University District possible. MHA implementation in the U District will expand the capacity to create affordable housing like this in the U District and across the City.”

Through the existing Housing Levy and incentive zoning programs, the Office of Housing recently has funded 182 new affordable homes the U District, 49 of which have already opened.

The University of Washington has been engaged in the plan as an active partner in the future of U District. The City and University continue to discuss their shared interests in improving connections to the new Burke Museum and the rest of the campus, expanding faculty and employee housing, creating jobs, providing additional childcare and creating a new public plaza adjacent to the light rail station.

“UW is proud to be a partner with the City of Seattle and the U District community in making this Seattle’s best neighborhood,” said UW Vice President Randy Hodgins. “The UW has sat shoulder to shoulder with City staff and U District residents to review and shape the ideas that have informed Mayor Murray’s proposal. We believe it’s the way to ensure the growth that’s coming will produce the great, inclusive neighborhood our students, faculty and staff want.”

As the neighborhood grows, the City of Seattle has made, and will continue to make, significant investments in the U District:

  • New parks and open space to serve the neighborhood, including upgrades at University Playfield, the new University Heights Plaza, the Christie Park expansion, and the future park on the Portage Bay waterfront.
  • A network of new bike lanes on 11th Ave NE, Roosevelt Way NE, NE Campus Parkway and NE 40th
  • Expanded sidewalks on NE 43rd connecting the light rail station to the Ave and campus.

“University Heights partners with the City of Seattle to ensure that everybody has a place to play, learn and grow in the U District regardless of their age, ability or economic status,” said Maureen Ewing, Executive Director of University Heights Center. “With the support of the City, we have saved our historic building from demolition, increased open space in the U District and are currently expanding arts and cultural opportunities that are accessible to all.”

The City is also expanding social service and public safety partnerships to make the U District more welcoming and safe for families and students:

  • The University District Partnership’s Clean and Safe initiative helps address vacant properties, graffiti and trash, making the neighborhood safer and more pleasant.
  • The Mayor will seek to expand his Youth Employment Initiative with the local non-profit ROOTS to build a “shelter to employment” program for homeless youth.
  • The Seattle Police Department and University Police continue to deepen their collaboration to support neighborhood safety.

“The City has played a critical role in this neighborhood’s plans for renewal,” said Kristine Cunningham, Executive Director of ROOTS. “ Once divisions and short-term thinking hampered our capacity to affect real change.  Now we are supported to combine diverse views and tackle the social, economic, and housing issues in the U District.  It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve made real progress.

Mayor Murray will transmit U District legislation to City Council next week.

 

 

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Mayor Murray statement on Pathways Home, Poppe report

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement on today’s announcement of Pathways Home from the Seattle Human Services Department, and the release of the reports from Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies:

“For the first time, our community has a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the present state of our homeless system and a set of recommended actions for how we achieve real system transformation. The information presented in both the Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies reports is long-awaited, and there is no question that much of it is uncomfortable to hear.

“This is especially true for the thousands of people who are living without a roof over their heads. Our current system does not adequately respond to their needs, and is not effectively helping them exit homelessness. That system, of both funders and providers, also fails to put the many selfless people who work tirelessly to make a difference in a position to succeed in moving people into permanent housing.

“We can no longer wait to take action, so today, we are changing course. These reports represent both a dramatic challenge to our City, and an urgent call to action. Our focus must be on achieving better outcomes, and taking action that makes a visible and significant reduction in the number of people sleeping outside, and Pathways Home is our way to achieve this essential goal. Pathways Home is a robust, actionable plan that our Human Services Department will begin implementing immediately.

“I want to thank Barbara Poppe and Focus Strategies for the invaluable insight they have given us for how we can best make progress on what is among the most critical issues facing this city. And I thank my Human Services Director, Catherine Lester, for leading our team in making this plan a reality.”

Details of today’s announcement can be found at www.seattle.gov/homelessness.

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Mayor Murray responds to Dallas shootings

Today, Mayor Ed Murray delivered the following remarks in response to the Dallas shootings:

For the second day in a row, I am speaking to you because our country is shaken.

We were shaken just days ago by the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. 

And last night by the violent reaction of a single individual in Dallas to those tragic deaths, resulting in the shooting deaths of five law enforcement officers and the wounding of seven others.  

Today, there is anger, and uncertainty, and bitterness, and fear. Among the black community. Among our law enforcement community. And across this county and this city.

This is a pivotal time in our history and it is also a dangerous time in our history.

How we chose to respond will determine our ability to come together as a city and a nation, or be further divided and sink into ever more violence.

Let us respond and be united in denouncing violence as the answer.

Let us be respond and be united in hearing the peaceful voices of the peaceful protesters in Dallas, in Louisiana, in Minnesota and here in Seattle.

Let us respond and be united in not allowing the viciousness of one man to silence these voices, so many of whom were crying out in pain.

Violence will not resolve the hurt or helplessness or frustration. The politics of simply tearing others apart and denouncing our opponents will not heal the wounds of racism.

The stigmatization of any group, based on race or religion or sexual orientation or of police officers, only leads to violence.

To the members of the Seattle Police Department, this tragedy is a somber reminder of the uncertainties and risk you and your colleagues take each and every day in service to our community.

You have an extraordinarily difficult job and, as I said yesterday, often are called to respond to the failure of other systems.

You put your life on the line every day to keep us safe. For this we thank you, and we simply must do our best to make sure you are safe.

To further reiterate what I said in my remarks yesterday, the causes of the violence we have seen this week are institutional and structural racism.

And the best answer we can give is to continue our work to create a more equitable city, giving young people of color opportunity, and leading the nation in reforming our police department.

But we are also challenged with a politics locally, nationally and globally based on fear and intent on dividing us. Where issues are pushed to the extreme, and we demonize those who disagree with us.

Our challenge at this tragic moment, as individuals and collectively as a city, is to step back from the politics of divisions and find a way, despite our disagreements, to recognize the good in others and build bridges to overcome the challenges we face.

As Congressman John Lewis said just this morning, “We are one people, we one family, we are one house. We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not we will perish as fools.”

 

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Mayor issues action plan for Chinatown-International District

Mayor Ed Murray today issued his action plan to address persistent public safety and disorder challenges in the Chinatown-International District (C/ID). The action plan reflects the recommendations of Murray’s Chinatown-International District Public Safety Task Force, which was convened last year in the wake of the murder of long-time public safety advocate and community activist Donnie Chin.

“Thank you to the many community members who contributed their time to this public safety task force and for their commitment to the neighborhood. Donnie was one of the people who taught us that it requires more than police presence in a neighborhood to address public safety,” said Murray. “The neglect that the Chinatown-International District feels did not occur overnight, but I am committing our City to work with the community to address these issues so that we preserve this wonderful, vibrant, diverse and historic neighborhood.”

Murray’s plan includes four key elements identified for early action:

 

  • Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist – This one-year pilot creates a new civilian position at the Seattle Police Department that will be trained in national best practices around community policing and will be the City’s point to implement strategies to address the most acute criminal activities afflicting the neighborhood.
  • Neighborhood-Based Public Safety Coordinator – The Department of Neighborhoods will provide matching funds for a position based in the neighborhood to provide public safety coordination between City departments and the residents and organizations in the C/ID.
  • Public Safety Steering Committee – City employees and community members will identify key public safety projects to implement in the next 12-18 months, which will be measured and monitored for concrete outcomes.
  • Improved Police Communication and Responsiveness – The Seattle Police Department will increase positive police engagement and relationship-building within the community with additional and redeployed staff, improve 911 responsiveness and language capabilities, and ensure that police patrols maintain high visibility in the neighborhood.

“We have recently seen the benefits of better coordinated police efforts in South Seattle and in our downtown core,” said Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “We are committed to a similar multidisciplinary strategy to address the important concerns of Chinatown-International District stakeholders.”

In recognition of the significant impacts of heavy litter on quality of life in the neighborhood and the strong correlation between heavy litter and public safety concerns, Murray announced that the City will launch a new intensive litter clean-up program. The program will be piloted in two neighborhoods, the Chinatown-International District and Ballard. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will increase litter pick-up with bi-weekly clean-up crews, install more trash bins on the street and increase community engagement to speed response to illegal dumping.

Additionally, Murray has instructed the Office of Planning & Community Development (OPCD) and Department of Neighborhoods (DON) to work closely with the new Public Safety Steering Committee to guide the development and planning of infrastructure investments, as well as monitoring related issues that need immediate coordination.

“Chinatown-International District is a unique cultural environment that faces distinct public safety and infrastructure challenges,” said Maiko Winkler-Chin of the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority. “For decades, our neighborhood has felt that it has not had the same access to City resources and services as other neighborhoods. Community members, especially recent immigrants and our seniors, often feel disconnected. These task force recommendations and the mayor’s action plan are intended to build new bridges while making our neighborhood safer and even more vibrant.”

“The City must be held accountable to the Public Safety Task Force recommendations by keeping our community inviting, safe and a competitive place to do business, to live, and to work,” said Tam Nguyen, owner of the Tamarind Tree restaurant. “We need the City to support a healthy neighborhood by targeting crime inducers, ensuring safe environments for all law-abiding residents, and improving communication and coordination with the C/ID.”

“Small businesses are the road to prosperity for many residents of Chinatown-International District,” said Ali Lee of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “Creating safe and welcoming streets is critical if these small businesses are to continue to attract customers from the neighborhood, elsewhere in the Seattle and across the region. Our goal is to create a neighborhood where everyone feels comfortable walking, shopping and dining at all times of day.”

Donnie Chin was born and grew up in Seattle’s Chinatown and committed his life to the neighborhood. In 1968, he founded the International District Emergency Center (IDEC) to help respond to the needs of the immigrant, elderly, low-income families in the neighborhood.

Through IDEC, Donnie was always the first on the scene in the neighborhood responding to emergencies. He also provided CPR and public safety training to the residents and businesses in the neighborhood. Over the years, Donnie and IDEC became an invaluable partner to Seattle’s law enforcement and first responder communities, and he came to embody the “heart and soul” of the C/ID.

Last December, Murray convened the Chinatown-International District Public Safety Task Force of neighborhood leaders, City staff and the Seattle Police Department to identify strategies to improve neighborhood public safety and city infrastructure investment. Over the course of the last six months, the Task Force developed a detailed series of recommendations to address public safety and livability in the Chinatown-International District. The mayor’s action plan prioritizes the first steps that address the most urgent needs. Additional actions will be developed in conjunction with the C/ID community through the Public Safety Steering Committee.

According to the InterIm Community Development Association, more than three-fourths of C/ID residents are people of color and more than half speak a language other than English at home. Six out of ten neighborhood residents are of Asian descent, and at least one in four are seniors.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mayor launches innovative Navigation Center for unsheltered homeless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By the numbers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mayor proposes gunshot detection pilot program

Mayor Ed Murray has heard from communities that the City must take new actions to improve response to shots fired in neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence, including the Central District and Rainier Valley.

Today, on Gun Violence Awareness Day, the mayor is launching a process to bring an acoustic gunshot detection pilot program to the City of Seattle. The mayor will also work with the Seattle City Council to require that all surplus firearms from the Seattle Police Department are only sold to other law enforcement agencies.

“While Seattle remains a very safe city, we owe it to our young people to explore all technology tools that can save a life or take a gun off the streets,” said Mayor Murray. “We have seen gunshot locators work effectively in other cities. We will work with our neighborhoods to gauge their interest in participating in the pilot project, as we protect the privacy of all residents.”

Gunshot locators actively listen for gunshots and detect the exact location where guns are fired. Unlike reports from nearby residents who may be uncertain, these systems’ advanced technology reliably report when and where the shots were fired. A video camera attached to the system is activated to capture the incident. Law enforcement authorities are notified immediately and a police officer can be dispatched to the vicinity without delay.

The mayor will send the City Council legislation required to implement a pilot project.

“At almost every community meeting where I have discussed installing an acoustic gunshot locator system, I have received overwhelming positive feedback,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “I want to make it crystal clear we will work thoroughly with privacy advocates on the operational and data management protocols to ensure the public’s privacy and civil liberties are protected.”

“My constituents city-wide have expressed concern over safety, as well as an interest in innovations intended to keep communities safe,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González, Chair of the Safe Communities committee.  “Given the increased trends in shots fired, gun violence injuries and gun-related deaths in Seattle, I stand firmly behind initiatives to reduce senseless violence. I look forward to working with Mayor Murray on his efforts to increase our City’s security.”

Last year, community members, including the United Clergy and the Urban League, urged the city to consider technology solutions that may help Seattle Police Department respond to shots fired and identify persons of interest.

“We know that gunshot detection systems have helped reduce gun violence in other cities,” said Rev. Harriett Walden, founder, Mothers for Police Accountability. “It’s time that we give this technology a try in Seattle. We owe it to our children to take every step possible to keep them safe.”

Community feedback will be critical to designing the system, deciding where it is deployed, and defining how it functions. Working with the community, the City will to use its race and social justice toolkit during the assessment of the pilot program. The City will engage with civil liberties advocates and ensure that it complies with the City’s existing privacy policy.

“I know from experience that technology, when paired with prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies, can effectively support public safety efforts,” said Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole. “An automated gunshot detection pilot program can help our officers and detectives working to reduce gun violence in our city by improving shots fired response times and identifying shooters.”

Since the beginning of the year, 144 incidents of shots fired have been reported in Seattle. Five people have been killed and another 24 have been injured. Of the 69 people who have been assaulted by someone with a firearm, more than half of all victims are under the age of 30 and are African American.

During that same period in 2015, 154 incidents of shots fired were reported, resulting in two deaths and 27 injuries.

This year, concentrated areas of shots reported include the Rainier Valley, the Central District and in South Park.  Shots are most frequently reported in the evening hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

For the first three months of this year, Seattle police have seized 438 guns, an increase of 77 in the first 5 months of 2015.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has issued a Request for Proposals to gather interest from potential contractors who could construct the system. If deployed, the system would be paid for with a federal grant.

Similar systems are deployed in at least 67 other cities across the nation. Law enforcement agencies report instant notification of gunfire, high accuracy of reported locations, and reduced police response times.

The mayor will also send legislation to Council that requires surplus Seattle Police Department firearms can only be sold to another law enforcement agency. Under existing City policy, when a Seattle police officer turns in a service weapon, it cannot be resold to in the State of Washington.

“Speaking as a mother and as a proud Grandmother Against Gun Violence I believe we all must do everything in our power–politically and personally — to create safer communities, which means championing safe gun ownership,” said Councilmember Bagshaw. “Mayor Murray and I have worked tirelessly to leverage our purchasing power to push for the most responsible firearm policies being practiced via the firearm resolution.”

“Yet again, Washington State and Seattle are on the cutting edge of common sense, just and visionary social policy,” said Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai. “The prioritizing of citizen safety and freedom from fear over the influence and financial inducements of the gun industry and their lobby reflects more than good governance—it is a fulfillment of the ultimate promise of righteous leadership to its deserving constituency.”

The resolution will also require that the City of Seattle only purchases firearms and ammunition from dealers that take steps to reduce gun violence and are fully compliant with all federal and state laws, including background checks for all buyers.

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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.

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