Seattle mayor plans big spending to reduce homelessness

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FILE - A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by homeless people, Friday, March 11, 2022, while clearing and removing an encampment in Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.  Mayor Bruce Harrell said Tuesday, May 31, 2022 that the city would create a database of homeless camps and provide more than $100 million to a regional group trying to address the current homeless crisis in the city. region.  (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE – A Seattle police officer walks past tents used by homeless people, Friday, March 11, 2022, while clearing and removing an encampment in Westlake Park in downtown Seattle. Mayor Bruce Harrell said Tuesday, May 31, 2022 that the city would create a database of homeless camps and provide more than $100 million to a regional group trying to address the current homeless crisis in the city. region. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

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Seattle will create a database of homeless camps and provide more than $100 million to a regional group trying to address the region’s current homelessness crisis, the city’s mayor announced Tuesday.

“Problems created over decades cannot be solved overnight, but we must reject the status quo where people are left homeless on sidewalks and in parks,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said as he announced his plan. to address the current homelessness crisis in the city.

Seattle, like many West Coast cities, has faced a thorny problem of homeless people for decades. Harrell was elected last year on a platform to address public safety and the issue of homeless camps in public spaces like parks. He pledged to move people into accommodations with on-site services.

Critics of Seattle’s efforts to move people out of camps said the city has failed to create enough housing and transitional services for those removed from encampments.

Harrell’s new plan includes $118 million for the King County Regional Homeless Authority, a new agency created to coordinate homeless programs in the greater Seattle area.

Harrell said Seattle is spending $173 million in its 2022 budget to fund its homelessness action plan. This represents a large increase in municipal funds dedicated to homelessness issues; in 2018, spending was $77 million, TV channel KING5 reported.

And Harrell says $572 million — enough to build 1,551 new units — has been earmarked for affordable housing projects. The figure includes state and federal resources in addition to $138 million in taxpayer dollars, according to Harrell’s new plan.

The city’s goal is to provide shelter with a bed ready and waiting for each person living in a homeless encampment prior to any potential sweeps.

According to Harrell’s plan, authorities will investigate, inspect and verify campsites and provide a publicly available map of the concentration of campsites by neighborhood throughout the city.

There are more than 40,000 people in King County who are homeless, according to the King County Department of Community and Services. City officials reported 763 tents and 225 RV camps across Seattle in May.

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