by Jay Sygiel, Isaac Litwak, and Sawyer Hanners
Walking down the streets of Seattle, tents, tarps, and sleeping bags have become a familiar sight. The state of homelessness in our city can only be described as a human services emergency. To solve this dilemma, we must look at where it stems from. The primary cause of homelessness can be boiled down to two things: the cost of living and the income gap that plagues the city.
In recent years, 77,300 Seattleites (5,000 more than the seating capacity of Lumen Field) reside below the poverty rate. Of these people, more than 11,000 of them are homeless and half of those are unsheltered. But this statistic is not representative of the amount of people not having their needs met due to low/unstable incomes. The national poverty line is set much lower than what is considered livable in Seattle. For one person to live comfortably here, you must make around $72,092, which is over five times the national poverty line.
Over the past six years, rents in Seattle have increased 57% while the average salary has not scaled to compensate for that increase. Thus, the income gap is only getting larger, leaving the people of Seattle in the dust.
Continue reading OPINION: Homelessness, Poverty, and the City Budget
by Johnny Fikru and Johnny Mao
It is no accident that ChuMinh Tofu still stands tall in a spot that other businesses have long since vacated.
To date, Thanh-Nga “Tanya” Nguyễn and her staff have held down the spot on South Jackson Street for 10 years. Tanya’s journey to ChuMinh has involved a myriad of pathways. Medical school in Vietnam, biochemistry, a mindfulness in Buddhism, a passion for tofu, and a culture of caring — all manifest into the language of love present at ChuMinh to this day: food and mutual aid.
“I met Tanya years ago — I would come to ChuMinh Tofu and buy meals for community meetings. In the era I was raised in, banh mi was part of the diet at community meetings,” said organizer Johnny Fikru. “As I walked inside trying to determine what I wanted to eat, I was struck by the warm presence of Tanya. Anyone that’s ever been lucky enough to feel that energy knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s an inviting and warm presence. It’s authentic. It’s caring. It is peaceful. I was welcomed in a way that I haven’t felt at a restaurant, and it felt so great.”
Continue reading Love, Mutual Aid, and Humanity at ChuMinh Tofu
by Erica C. Barnett
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)
Late Friday afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Christine Shaffer struck Charter Amendment 29 (CA 29), the “Compassion Seattle” homelessness initiative, from the November ballot, agreeing with opponents of the measure that it went beyond the scope of the initiative process. Specifically, Chambers said, the amendment attempted to overrule the City of Seattle’s authority to determine its own homelessness and land-use policies — authority granted to local jurisdictions by the State Legislature that cannot, she said, be overturned by an initiative at the local level.
The amendment, if adopted, would require the City Council to spend a minimum of 12% of its general fund revenues on homelessness, dictating further that in the first year, that money would have to pay for 2,000 new units of “emergency housing” (shelter). It would also change local land use and zoning laws by requiring the City to waive code requirements, regulations, and fees to “urgently site” the projects it would mandate.
The groups that sued to remove the proposal from the ballot, including the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and the ACLU of Washington, argued that the voters of Seattle lack the authority to overturn these sort of legislative decisions and that the amendment would effectively undo the agreement the City and County made to create the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority. Judge Shaffer agreed.
Continue reading Judge Strikes Homelessness Charter Amendment from Ballot
by Luke Brennan
Over the last decade, Seattle and King County have taken various measures to support people living without permanent housing. In 2015, King County was investing $36 million a year to assist people living unhoused and at risk of becoming unhoused.
Despite these efforts, homelessness has been on the rise since 2010, with increasing rent prices as the likely culprit.
Continue reading Then and Now: Seattle’s Plan for Homelessness From 2010 to 2020
by Tiffani McCoy and Jacob Schear
Throughout June, many Seattle voters have likely come into contact with paid signature gatherers wearing badges with purple and magenta rainbows stationed outside of grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants. They will ask you to sign their petition to “solve the homelessness crisis.”
These paid signature gatherers are working to get the “Compassion Seattle” charter amendment on the November ballot. If Compassion Seattle passes, this amendment would be added to our city’s charter.
Continue reading OPINION: Don’t Be Fooled by ‘Compassion’ Seattle
by Ashley Archibald
That Marc Dones believes the County can fix its homelessness crisis is probably good news coming from the first CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) — the organization that replaced All Home King County as the coordinating entity for homelessness response after a lengthy planning process.
This optimism comes against the backdrop of a humanitarian crisis on the streets of Seattle and King County, one that has become worse and more visible over the past two decades as various initiatives tried and failed to end it.
Continue reading Marc Dones Believes King County Can Fix Its Homelessness Crisis