How would Seattle's 2021 mayoral candidates address homelessness?
Seattleites are voting for a new mayor this year. We're asking all the candidates how they would address a range of issues facing the city.
This week, we ask about the region's homelessness crisis.
Each Seattle mayoral candidate was asked to describe themselves and answer the same questions, with the same parameters. Follow the coverage leading up to the August primary at KUOW.org/elections.
QUESTION: By some counts, only two cities in the U.S. (Los Angeles and New York) have more people experiencing homelessness than Seattle. What’s one thing you would do differently to address the crisis here?
"Integrity, Compassion, Wise Action. Independent Democrat."
The Ninth Circuit Court ruling means we in Seattle have no excuses for not providing basic shelter, food, security and treatment to those in need. I would permanently remove tent dwellers from our city parks and end the enabling and justification of theft, vandalism, and violent crimes.
"Enrolled member of the Pawnee Nation, Candidate For Seattle Mayor"
Treat homelessness like an actual emergency. Almost six years ago, the City of Seattle declared a state of emergency around homelessness, yet the crisis has only gotten worse. This is a humanitarian crisis, as as mayor, I would use city resources, federal dollars, regional funding and philanthropy to address the homeless living in our parks, streets and other public spaces as the first step. We can fix this. We just need to do the hard work.
"A former legislator, nonprofit leader, and working mom who knows how to make progress on tough issues."
Homelessness has been an emergency for 5+ years, but our city’s leaders have failed to put forth the kinds of solutions and resources studies say are required to solve the crisis. Their inaction has left too many of our neighbors without a safe place to call home, while depriving people of public spaces to safely gather in.
The one thing I’d do differently is enact solutions scaled to the size of the problem and create enough supportive housing with wraparound services to end this emergency.
"President of the Seattle City Council and candidate for Mayor of Seattle."
Solving this crisis requires experienced leadership. We know there are solutions that work to transition people into housing. The challenge is scaling those solutions to be effective long term. It requires someone who can bring the council, business, labor, county, state, federal officials and other stakeholders together to find additional resources to fund the solutions at a scale that meets the challenge, without cutting other essential city services.
"I’m running for mayor to reset City Hall, unite Seattle around our progressive values, and move our city forward."
I’ll bring real accountability and own the issue of homelessness from day one – no more delays, no more finger pointing, no more passing the buck – just real solutions to urgently move people into permanent supportive housing with onsite services – and out of tents and cars. I’ll make new investments in affordable housing, clean up parks and shared spaces, and coordinate with regional partners, nonprofits, and community members, so everyone can track our progress and be a part of the solution.
Andrew Grant Houston*
"'Ace' is a queer architect of color, small business owner, activist, millennial, renter, and transit rider."
I will act.
Since declaring a homelessness emergency in 2015, our unhoused population has only gone up with no bold solutions brought to the table. I will build 2,500 tiny homes as our rapid response to the crisis while we build the long-term solution of social housing. Sweeps—and ballot measures that are simply a guise for sweeps—will not lift our neighbors out of poverty.
I also know that increasing wages, rent control, and ending exclusionary zoning are how we keep people from becoming homeless.
"I bring a new set of skills to this position as a builder of teams and solutions."
My plan treats the crisis of homelessness with the urgency it deserves. I plan to use all city resources to create 600 personal housing units — not hotels or costly apartments, but tiny homes which provide privacy — in my first 100 days. I take a holistic approach to the crisis, including services that must accompany the stabilizing phase in clustered villages, partnering with medical institutions on mental health and substance abuse. This will help break down the barriers impeding recovery.
"I am a problem solver who will prioritize delivering results for our residents."
I will establish “Dignity Communities” using surplus city property and leasing private property to create safe places for temporary shelter with service providers on site, amenities to meet basic human needs, support teams and job placement for sustainable earned income. These communities will be places of compassion and support but will have expectations of those being cared for to ensure that needs are met and progress towards recovery is being made.
To approach the issues of homelessness, we would first define the word by definition. Our city has accepted many plans that are implemented with lack of follow thru to completion. We have developed a program of the three L’s that will be the main focus point of our administration. Listen, Learn, and then Lead.
Make all empty buildings like schools and government buildings available for modification for the homeless.
*Candidates who are taking part in Seattle's Democracy Voucher Program.
Colleen Echohawk is a former KUOW board member.
Bobby Tucker submitted his answers after KUOW's deadline. His statements were added after publishing.
Candidates invited to participate in this survey but who did not respond by deadline: Henry Clay Dennison, James Donaldson, Stan Lippmann, Omari Tahir-Garrett, Bobby Tucker, and Casey Sixkiller.