This afternoon, the Council once again took up the Mayor’s bill prohibiting “RV Ranching” of dilapidated vehicles. But it rewrote the bill to change the focus from cracking down on the predatory ranchers to protecting and providing assistance to the victims.
You will likely recall that last February a group self-published a report on “prolific offenders” who cause problems for local communities and businesses, and who cycle through the criminal justice system. As I wrote at the time, that report had plenty of methodological issues and other flaws that limited its usefulness, since the authors didn’t have access to most of the relevant government, law-enforcement, and human-services records. However, in the aftermath of that report, Mayor Durkan commissioned her own task force to look into the issue of prolific offenders. That group published their report last week, concurrent with a budget proposal from the Mayor for four new programs to address the problem.
This morning, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that they have jointly submitted a long-awaited proposal for a regional governance structure for responding to the homelessness crisis.
The proposal, as detailed in a proposed Interlocal Agreement and a Charter for the new organization, lays out the services that will be consolidated into the new authority, the governing bodies that will oversee it, and the initial funding.
Over the summer, Council member Sawant has been working on a bill that would expand the city’s ability to establish additional “tiny house” villages and issue permits for more sanctioned homeless encampments. However, her bill has already been tied up in land-use bureaucracy.
Earlier this week, the City Council had another committee hearing on the Mayor’s proposed ordinance to curb “RV Ranching,” predatory renting of RV’s and other vehicles in poor condition to homeless people.
The second conversation went better than the first one last week, and the issues are becoming clearer.
Back in June, Mayor Durkan announced that she would be transmitting to the City Council a bill that prohibits the renting of “hazardous vehicles” to vulnerable individuals as shelter. Today that bill had its first hearing in front of a Council committee, and it did not go well.
According to a briefing delivered to the City Council yesterday, key questions are now starting to be answered in the long process of devising a regional governance structure for the response to the homelessness crisis.
This morning, the Human Services Department delivered its second-quarter report to the City Council on the Navigation Team. Last fall the Council placed a proviso on the team’s 2019 budget so that it must deliver a report each quarter in order to get the next quarter’s budget released and available to be spent.
The Nav Team has been increasing the amount of metrics it tracks and produces, though quite frankly most of the numbers in the report (for January – March) are not terribly insightful — especially since its regular work was suspended for two weeks during the February winter storm while the team focused on emergency work getting people indoors. There were, however, some interesting parts of today’s conversation that shed light on recent issues with the team.
The efforts to create a new governance structure for King County and its cities continues to make slow progress. They still don’t have many answers, but they seem to be focusing in on the key questions in the hopes of finding answers by the end of the summer.
Last Friday, All Home King County released the results of the annual “Point in Time” count of homeless people. Its press release headlined the first decrease in homelessness in the county since 2012. The local media hopped on that headline, as did Mayor Durkan in her weekly “Durkan Digest” email newsletter to constituents.
After spending three days going through the report, I have come to the conclusion that not only is there little reason to believe the claim that homelessness decreased in King County, but there are good reasons to view much of the data in the report with great skepticism.