Last week there was a lot of press coverage, much of it inaccurate, regarding a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals related to whether cities can make it a criminal offense to “camp” or sleep on public property.
Here’s what the ruling actually says, and what it means.
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Two weeks ago, a consortium of business district and neighborhood advocacy groups released a report entitled “System Failure: report on prolific offenders in Seattle’s criminal justice system.” The report, authored by Scott Lindsay, a former public safety advisor to Mayor Murray and 2017 candidate for City Attorney, identifies 100 individuals who “cycle through the criminal justice system with little impact on their behavior, repeatedly returning to Seattle’s streets to commit more crimes.”
Heavy on findings but light on recommendations, the report paints a dire picture of the state of the criminal justice system in Seattle and King County, and the ability of this group of “prolific offenders” to game the system. But as with any study that claims such significant findings, it’s worth taking a closer look.
Yesterday Mayor Durkan, Interim Human Services Director Jason Johnson, and other city officials briefed the press on the Human Services Department’s (and the city’s) response to the homelessness crisis in 2018, in advance of releasing selected statistics to the public. In addition, HSD delivered its quarterly report to the City Council this morning on the performance of the Navigation Team. This follows a report from the City Auditor’s office earlier this month criticizing HSD and the Navigation Team for aspects of its response.
This afternoon, Mayor Durkan and several of her department heads held a press briefing on preparations for two more winter storm systems: one that arrived late this afternoon, and the second to arrive midday tomorrow. Tomorrow’s is the one they are all worried about.
Today the Seattle City Auditor released its review of aspects of the city’s homeless response related to early outreach, hygiene services, and rigorous evaluation. The report was critical of the city’s execution on all three issues.
While most of the attention in 2018 was on the lackluster and fruitless “One Table” effort to drive a regional response to homelessness, it appears that quietly the stage was being set for a move to a regional governance system — or at least for the parts under the control of Seattle and King County.
On October 3, the Mayor’s Office walked through for the City Council the parts of the proposed budget related to responding to the homelessness crisis, which span several departments. Let’s dive into the details.