Seattle mayor proposes more spending on homelessness crisis

Seattle Budget

SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Monday proposed spending another $12 million on the homelessness crisis.

Despite a 40 percent spending increase already on homelessness since becoming mayor, Murray acknowledged more people are living on the streets.


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"We must do better when so many lives are at stake," Murray said.

Murray said the city must focus on putting people in permanent housing.

His budget also funds conversion of an existing shelter into a 24-hour homeless help center.

Access to Murray's annual budget address was tightly controlled by police and security guards, and much of the audience appeared to be hand-picked by the mayor's office.

Shouting activists were kept in the lobby until it was over.

Before the speech, Councilmember Kshama Sawant unsuccessfully called on her colleagues to open the moveable back wall of the council chamber to let more people in, and later said in a statement that not a single member of the public was allowed in to the speech.

The mayor's office said many of the roughly 200 people in the chambers were members of the public invited by the mayor.

Activists called on more spending for affordable housing instead of police.

The mayor made only passing reference to the controversy over the now-delayed North Precinct project, and pledged to fund 200 more officers by 2020.

"I believe this is entirely consistent with our efforts toward police reform. Indeed, it is required," Murray said.

The mayor pledges a new focus on good governance.

His budget also proposes improvements to the 911 system and funds a new streetcar line downtown.

The city council will consider Murray's budget this fall.