With a plan in the works to transition to a regional authority to organize the response to the homelessness crisis, yesterday the City Council and a collection of city departments had a public discussion of the Mayor’s proposed homelessness budget for next year.
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.
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.
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.
Tonight’s Council committee hearing lasted for two and a half hours. At the end, a resolution was voted out of committee — barely — but the future of Mayor Durkan’s nomination to fill the position of Director of the Human Services Department is as murky as ever.
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.
As promised, Council member Kshama Sawant will be formally introducing a resolution on Monday to send back Mayor Jenny Durkan’s nomination of Jason Johnson as Director of the Human Services Department.