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.
Back in January, Mayor Durkan announced a proposal to use $5.3 million from the sale of a city property to fund “bridge housing” to get more of the city’s homeless population off the streets. The City Council tweaked the plan a bit, but in the end Durkan’s $5.3 million survived and the Council ratified the funding plan in February.
Today Durkan is revealing the next step: a specific plan for how the money should be spent.
Despite various factions in the city lining up either for or against the proposed “head tax” on large businesses in Seattle, the City Council rolled up its sleeves today and got back to work debating the nuts and bolts of the proposal. Their goal is to finish it up on Friday and pass it into law next Monday.
Early last week, Council member Kshama Sawant turned her committee hearing into a political rally to demand that the Council overturn the Human Services Department’s RFP results and restore funding for organizations that lost funding, most notably SHARE, WHEEL, The Women’s Referral Service, and an Urban Rest Stop. After some behind-the-scenes shuttle diplomacy by Council member Teresa Mosqueda, the Council did that very thing this afternoon.
This afternoon, Mayor Tim Burgess and Human Services Department Director Catherine Lester announced funding grants to human services providers as a result of the $34 million RFP published earlier this year.
This afternoon King County released the results of its annual One Night Count (renamed this year to “Count Us In”).
It’s a long, detailed report, and the methodology changed this year so making comparisons with previous years is very difficult. I’m going to take a few days to thoroughly read and analyze it before doing a detailed post, but here are pointers to the key reading, and a few top-line points.
Late last summer, Mayor Murray announced Bridging the Gap, his administration’s short-term plan too address homelessness while the longer-term plan Pathways Home, took its time to spin up. Both efforts have sputtered along since then, mired in city government bureaucracy and hidden behind a maddening lack of transparency and accountability. But there are now signs that the shorter-term effort is starting to find its groove thanks to a creative idea for how to reorganize the effort.