We wrote to the Harrell and Gonzalez campaigns with a couple questions for Wallyhood. The Gonzalez campaign went silent despite multiple requests for comment. Harrell came through with flying colors though, so we’re running each answer as a post on Wallyhood.
Wallyhood: Jenny Durkan has been saying that before Covid-19, 40% of our homeless population became homeless outside Seattle, but now that number is up to 60% and climbing (note: this means that if Seattle’s population of homeless is constant, then we’ve seen a 50% increase in our homeless population strictly from people coming to Seattle). The mayor has said that the problem is neighboring communities criminalizing homelessness, and Seattle can’t house everybody. The ugliest example is Mercer Island, which has their cops force everyone off the island every night, criminalizing homelessness itself.
Shouldn’t Compassion Seattle be a King County measure instead of a Seattle-specific measure? Beyond talking up the regional homeless authority, what will you do to force neighboring communities to help with the issue?
Harrell: A regional approach makes the most sense and that is why I helped lead the discussions for the development of a regional approach. I also must focus on Seattle legislation and policy as that is our charter responsibility. They are not mutually exclusive. What Seattle can do to ensure neighboring cities contribute to solving the homelessness crisis is to change the narrative on our own response. The best way to inspire engagement and buy-in is to show progress and accountability. The finger-pointing and passing the buck must end.
From my first year in office, we will treat the homelessness crisis appropriately as the greatest challenge facing our city. We need a Mayor who will take immediate and decisive action, a relentless leader who will be accountable and take ownership of the problem. I will own it.
I recently announced my plan to address homelessness from Green Lake and Lower Woodland Park. I’m calling for urgent action through a clear and accessible plan so everyone in our city can see and track our progress; dedicated federal, state, local and private resources to adequately fund solutions; 2,000 units of housing in Year One of my administration, with services to assist people out of tents and into housing; and restoration of our parks, playfields and open spaces.
By uniting together on this shared mission – instead of the constant back-and-forth complaining and inaction – we will help restore lives, revitalize shared spaces and parks, and strengthen our communities and city. The rest of the region must step up as well and play a role in taking on this challenge and paying their fair share. But until Seattle shows we’re capable of leading this effort, we can’t be surprised at the lack of regional effort.