Last Wednesday the City Council got another monthly update on the city’s short-term response to the homelessness crisis.
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.
Late last summer the Mayor promised that the Human Services Department was working on an assessment of the needs of Seattle’s homeless population. Originally due out in November, it was finally released today.
The report gives the most detailed view to-date of who our homeless neighbors are, how they became homeless, and the issues they are struggling with. Along the way, it debunks several persistent myths about the homeless population and suggests the services that the city could provide that would do the most to lift them out of homelessness.
Since its inception last fall, the City of Seattle’s “Bridging the Gap” interim plan for addressing the homelessness crisis in the city has had its ups and downs — and mostly downs. But based on the team’s report to the City Council last week, it may finally be finding its feet.
Here’s an assortment of notes from this morning’s Council Briefing and this afternoon’s Full Council meeting.
Last Friday, Mayor Ed Murray sent a letter to the nine City Council members, announcing a new stakeholder group that he and Council member Sally Bagshaw are convening. That task force will review the city’s rules and procedures for dealing with unsanctioned homeless encampments and deliver recommendations to him and the Council.
In this gig, I spend far more time reading and listening than I do writing, and over the last several months much of that time has been spent learning about homelessness and how people are trying to address it. It’s a big, complicated problem, but the way we talk about it and let ourselves get rat-holed in side issues has given it an aura of intractability. Seattle is a city with money, resources, skilled people, and lots and lots of compassion. There is no reason our city can’t make a dent in our homelessness problem. And yet, over the past few years and even with a State of Emergency in place, we haven’t. It’s time for us to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working, that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insane, and to change our plan.
Coverage of the SODO Arena street vacation debate and discussion of affordable housing top this morning’s news coverage.
Yesterday’s council committee hearing on the city’s homelessness response is in the news this morning.
This afternoon the Human Services and Public Health Committee received the second part of a briefing on the city’s overall response to the homelessness crisis. Part 1 was focused on the immediate, emergency response; today’s presentation was about the long-term investments being made.