Last week I wrote that the effort to create a regional governance structure to lead the response to the homelessness crisis was reaching a pivotal moment as a revised plan was brought forth to King County’s Regional Policy Committee and the Seattle City Council. The back-to-back meetings of those two groups last Thursday showed that fractures still remain and the chance of moving forward with a plan is far from certain.
A study released last week confirms something that many people in the homeless-services community had suspected: a key tool used to assess and prioritize homeless people in King County for access to services is biased against people of color.
Yesterday HSD Interim Director Jason Johnson delivered a report to the City Council on the performance of the city’s homeless-response programs through the first half of 2019. There was some good news.
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 afternoon the City Council passed, each by a 7-1 vote, a pair of bills that set up separate funds into which the Sweetened Beverage Tax and Short-term Rental Tax revenues must be deposited, along with stricter rules for how the revenues may be spent — despite a threat from Mayor Durkan to veto the bills.
This morning, the Council passed out of committee an ordinance that would require the Human Services Department to build in annual inflation adjustments into its human-services contracts.
This morning, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that she is withdrawing the nomination of Jason Johnson as permanent Director of the Human Services Department, though he will continue on as interim Director.
Tomorrow’s scheduled meeting of the Select Committee on Homelessness and Housing Affordability has been cancelled. The meeting was intended to continue — and perhaps conclude — the confirmation hearings for Jason Johnson’s appointment as Director of the Human Services Department.
By a 3-5 vote, the Council narrowly defeated Council member Sawant’s effort to send Mayor Durkan’s nomination for HSD Director back to her for a do-over. But that doesn’t mean the nomination has a clear path forward to confirmation.
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.
Let’s dive in to the 2018 numbers.