Poll: Seattle residents fed up with spending more on the homeless with little to show for it

A private poll of 800 Seattle residents found they are increasingly unhappy with their City Council’s response to homelessness and no longer feeling generous about funding fresh attempts to solve the problem with new taxes. This private poll was conducted in March, before the passage of the head tax last month or the Mayor’s latest initiative to spend another $11 million this year on homelessness. From Crosscut:

When asked how serious of a problem homelessness is, 88 percent of respondents answered “extremely” or “very” serious, with only 1 percent answering “not too serious.” Similarly, 81 percent said the number of homeless encampments pose an “extremely” or “very” serious problem. This level of concern dwarfed any other issue in Seattle, including traffic, according to one person close to the polling…

83 percent were dissatisfied with how the Council has addressed homelessness, with a majority, 51 percent, responding “very dissatisfied.”

With that dissatisfaction may come consequences. A slim 29 percent believed city government needs more taxes to address homelessness, while 63 percent believe it already has enough and can solve the problem with more effective spending.

So not only are an overwhelming percentage of respondents dissatisfied, they also believe this is the top issue in the city. It’s quite a change from a previous poll, conducted in 2016, which found respondents were prepared to spend much more to address homelessness in the city:

In the 2016 poll, 64 percent of those surveyed said they believed the city needed “to spend a lot more money to reduce homelessness.” That’s a 35 percentage point difference from the more recent poll. In addition, only 40 percent of the 2016 respondents believed the city was not effectively using its resources, a mirror image of the more recent poll showing that more than 60 percent — 63 percent — now think the city has enough money.

Again, the poll taken in March of this year happened before the head tax on top companies in Seattle was passed; however, the head tax was already being discussed. So the dramatic shift could be the result of people hearing about the head tax proposal and deciding they’d had enough.

Opponents of the tax are now collecting signatures in an attempt to put the issue on the ballot this fall. Just yesterday, organizers predicted they would succeed:

“We’ve had an incredible outpouring of support across the city of Seattle … and we are very close to the finish line in terms of collecting the required signatures in order to be on the ballot this November,” said John Murray, spokesperson for the No Tax on Jobs Coalition…

“I think the jobs tax was the final straw,” Murray said. “You have seen tax after tax increase pushed by the city council … and you have a real problem on the streets of Seattle with public safety and sanitation. Also, a feeling among residents that this has to be solved because it is not right to have people living in these kinds of conditions.”

“Within that context you have a city council that has simply said ‘give us more money and we’ll take care of it,’” he said. “The problem is they have had a huge increase in homelessness spending over the past few years with little to no evidence of improvement. The people of the city are saying, ‘On the one hand you are telling us to give you more money. On the other, you clearly do not have an effective plan.’ And in the meantime, things are getting worse.”

Who would have predicted that high taxes and creeping socialism would create a resistance effort in Seattle of all places? We’ll find out this fall how many residents have finally had enough.

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