SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council unanimously approved Mayor Jenny Durkan’s latest homeless plan, increasing shelter capacity by 25 percent and utilizing space at city hall.
“With so many people living in Seattle unsheltered in inhumane, dangerous conditions, we must act quickly to move people into safer places where they can access services. City council quickly moved to approve my plan to invest resources into expanding badly-needed bridge housing and shelter, which is currently near capacity,” Durkan said. “When people have access to shelter, they’re more likely to take advantage of services like behavioral health, hygiene services, and employment support, and then move to permanent housing.”
The plan passed Monday gives the city 90 days to expand bridge housing and shelter units by 25 percent. It proposes to serve more than 500 additional peoplein Seattle each night. It will also help the city to maintain 163 existing shelter beds previously slated to be shut down. The plan also includes expanding shelter at Seattle City Hall by opening the 5th Avenue entrance to house more beds, and funds tiny house villages.
“We all have to contribute to solutions to this crisis, which is why we’re opening city hall more people each night,” Durkan said.
Even as the council was voting in favor of her homeless plan, Mayor Durkan was touring a homeless camp with media on a sidewalk near Seattle Center. She argued for a regional approach to the homelessness crisis and said that all efforts have to be paired with the development of affordable housing.
“We’re moving as many people as quickly as we can, and you’ll see as we come through areas, having the ability to have our sidewalks free is critical,” Durkan said. “So we have to find places for these people to leave (to).”
When pressed about the recent homeless-related attacks near tent encampments — such as the infamous "tent mansion" near KIRO 7's offices that includes a keg — Durkan stressed that the city needs more money for mental health and addiction services. She added that attacks among the nearly 40 million Seattle tourists each year are rare.
Mayor Durkan is also proposing to create roughly 2,500 new city-funded affordable rental units and more than 1,900 new multifamily tax exemption units between 2018 to 2021. Seattle already funds 4,450 affordable housing units specifically for people leaving homelessness.
“Seattle is becoming more and more unaffordable,” Durkan said. “We have to really double down on getting middle-income housing.”
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