Mayor Ed Murray announced on Wednesday how he would spend the proposed $55 million a year he’s asking from Seattle taxpayers in a new property tax for homelessness.
The City of Seattle currently spends $50 million on homelessness services. It includes more than $8 million a year on emergency shelters, more than $4 million a year on transitional housing and more than $9 million a year on permanent supportive housing.
By adding $55 million in funding, the city would have $105 million a year for homeless services.
Mayor Murray announced in January that it's possible that Seattle will receive less federal funding this year. Murray addressed this concern after President Donald Trump’s administration announced plans to strip federal grant money for so-called sanctuary cities for refugees.
“We have competing needs in this city,” Murray said in a discussion about homelessness at Seattle University in January. “We have other issues of poverty and racism that we need to deal with, so it’s a balancing act. But certainly as I said earlier or late last year, another funding proposal to the voters on homelessness is certainly something I would consider. But I think we need to acknowledge a 40 percent increase in the doubling of taxes. The city has been incredibly generous.”
A few weeks later during his State of the City address in February, Murray said he wanted to increase property taxes this year to generate more money for the city’s homelessness crisis.
More than 2,000 people are unsheltered in Seattle on any given night, according to the latest homeless count by volunteers.
On Wednesday, he released information on how he wants to spend that money. In a new breakdown from the mayor’s office, proposed funding would be used to accelerate improvements to reduce homelessness and increase options for permanent housing.
The city's goal is fewer shelters and more permanent housing. Below is a map of areas with homeless camps, read more about this here.
The city’s sanctioned homeless camps are a temporary fix to Seattle’s homeless crisis, the mayor’s office announced last year.
Seattle only has a handful of sanctioned homeless camps, and the rest of the camps that pop up across the city are unauthorized. The city of Seattle defines a camp as three or more tents.
Murray’s long-term solution is called “Pathways Home.” It involves expanding 24-hour shelter services and refocusing the city’s homeless solutions to an individual-based approach. The mayor's new goal fits into the "Pathways Home" program, which is expected to take a couple of years to set up.
Voters would be the ones to agree on whether Seattle sees about a $13-per-medium-house increase, according to the mayor’s office.
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