After the recent passage and repeal of the head tax in Seattle, the city’s Mayor is now eager to show some progress on the homeless problem in the city. Toward that end, the Mayor proposed short-term spending to get up to 500 additional people off the street and into various other options including cots set up inside City Hall. The Mayor’s proposal was passed unanimously today by the City Council. From My Northwest:
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 people in 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.
Last week KOMO News reported more details on the plan to turn the City Hall lobby into a shelter:
Part of the plan includes opening the City Hall lobby as an overnight shelter, run by the Salvation Army, starting on June 29. The lobby is large enough for 120 mats that will be used as bedding.
This is in addition to the City Hall overnight shelter that has been operating for the last couple of years three floors below. That has the capacity for 60 people spending the night.
I could see doing something like this after a natural disaster when people need emergency shelter on a very temporary basis. But the homeless problem in Seattle has been one of the worst in the country for several years and appears to be getting worse. What I don’t see in the Mayor’s plan is the endgame.
Of course, the mayor is also talking about building “roughly 2,500 new city-funded affordable rental units and more than 1,900 new multifamily tax exemption units between 2018 to 2021.” What’s not clear is where the money to pay for building and subsidizing those units is going to come from. The $13 million being spent on this short-term emergency plan came from selling off city property. How long can that go on?
No, what’s more likely to happen now is the costs of these projects will begin to drain money intended for other things. As one City Council member put it, members of the public “will have to give up things.”
“We know how to fix this, it’s deep investment into massive quantities of affordable housing,” Gonzalez said.
She also hinted that if no new revenue source becomes available to pay for the ‘deep investment,’ then city projects could be put on hold.
“And that inherently means that the public will have to give up things as well,” Gonzalez said.
It’s reasonable to ask how enthused Seattle residents are going to be about giving things up (including City Hall) to a homeless population that keeps making news for violent attacks on people in the city. There was another attack by a homeless person on a father and daughter this week:
The unidentified victims were on their way to a screening of “The Incredibles 2” when the suspect, David Ailep, allegedly followed the pair as they walked down the sidewalk. When the female victim tried to walk away from Ailep, he said to her “why are you laughing at me” and “stop laughing at me.” She wasn’t laughing at him.
According to the police report, obtained by KTTH 770 AM, she asked Ailep to get away from her, but he refused:
“She observed that Ailep had his right hand in his pocket (she noted that it looked like was holding a knife in his hand covered by his jacket pocket) and his left hand was up and back in a striking position like he was going to hit her,” the report says. “She feared that he was going to strike her, and she decided to pull out her ASP baton from her purse to defend herself.”
The female victim screamed at him to get away from her, but he refused, grabbing both of her arms, and rattling her back and forth until he was able to take the baton from her, according to the police documents. She yelled out in pain.
At this point, her father tackled Ailep and wound up getting hit in the head with the stolen baton. Police later arrested Ailep and a nurse determined he was extremely high on drugs at the time of the attack.
This is the third serious attack by a homeless person in recent weeks. Earlier this month a homeless man attacked a family of tourists with a rope and his fists. And last month a homeless man was accused of raping a 40-year-old woman in a car dealership bathroom.