Fact Check: Seattle City Councilmembers' statements on homelessness

Fact Check: Seattle City Councilmembers' statements on homelessness

KIRO 7 fact checked statements made by Seattle City Council members Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda before the June 12 repeal of the $275-per-employee head tax. Follow this link to see details on the head tax and repeal. The fact check is below.

Statements by Lisa Herbold: 

“Seattle built 944 units of deeply affordable housing in 2017”

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NOT QUITE: Seattle committed $94 million towards deeply affordable housing in 2017, but only 3 of those projects were completed in 2017: Mercy Othello Plaza, Alex Jackson House, Plymouth on First Hill for a total of 225 units. The remaining units are in the permitting process or under construction and will open by the end of 2019.

“A recent Zillow study shows that a 5% increase in the median rent correlates with a 250% increase in homelessness”

NOT TRUE: From Zillow study: "In Washington, D.C., our model shows that a 5 percent average rent increase in 2016 would have translated to 224 additional people experiencing homelessness, for a total of 8,722. In Seattle, that increase would add 258 people to the homeless population for a total of 12,498."

“5,000 moved out of homelessness into permanent housing in 2017”

LIKELY: All Home King County report says 11,206 homeless households in the county exited to permanent housing between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, most likely a majority from Seattle.

“83% reported living in King Co at the time they became homeless” meaning Seattle policies didn’t attract more homeless people to the area.

MISLEADING: The statistic comes from the 2018 "Count Us In" survey, conducted by government employees. While the annual count found more than 12,000 homeless individuals in the county, the teams conducting the survey portion only made contact with 1,056 people. Of those, only 888 answered the question about where they lived when they became homeless, so the sample size of this question is approximately 7%.

Count Us In was a comprehensive community effort, with the participation of over 200 individuals with a lived experience of homelessness, more than 600 community volunteers, staff from various city and county departments, and other community partners interested in ending homelessness.

Statements by Teresa Mosqueda: 

“9,000 homeless moved into permanent housing since 2014”

It’s hard to tell where these numbers come from. The council members repeatedly quote number of homeless, but most data counts households and not individuals, so unknown if there’s a formula they're using to come up with an individual count.

"3,000 moved out of homelessness in 1st quarter of 2018"
Human services department report in May says 3,030 people were moved into permanent housing OR MAINTAINED THEIR HOUSING, thus it includes people who had already been moved out of homelessness

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