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Councilmember Mosqueda applauds Seattle for homelessness efforts

Teresa Mosqueda addresses City Council chambers before the head tax vote on Tuesday, June 12. (KIRO Radio/Matt Pitman)

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda praised the city’s efforts to get people out of homelessness just before the council repealed a head tax that would have provided millions in additional revenue to fight the problem.

Seattle City Council repeals head tax

“We have done a tremendous job, and as the newest council member here, I want to applaud the city council for your work over the last two years to change our approach to dealing with homelessness,” Mosqueda said.

During Tuesday’s special city council meeting, Mosqueda referred to a report published in May that stated the city had exited 3,030 people from homelessness in the first quarter of 2018.

According to Seattle’s annual point-in-time count in January 2018, there were 4,488 unsheltered people in the city, as compared to 3,841 in 2017.

Mosqueda touted the fact that the city has exited 5,000 people from homelessness in 2017 and 9,000 people since 2014. She also praised Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez’s work on audits and said that the data collection process is outperforming that of San Francisco.

“What you have invested in is working and we need additional revenue to make it possible for more people to find a home,” Mosqueda told her colleagues.

But despite all the good work, Mosqueda said that there’s still room for improvement, which is what she believed the employee head tax to be.

“We cannot move people out of streets and out of parks and into shelters and into homes without additional revenue to meet our city’s needs,” she said.

As for the millions of dollars the city has already set aside for homelessness, Mosqueda basically said it’s not enough.

“People say that Seattle’s budget has grown, but the reality is, and what gets omitted all the time is that the growth in revenue is actually going into utilities, it’s going into police services,” Mosqueda said. “It’s not going into housing and homelessness services and that’s what we need to do.”

How Seattle spent $54 million on homelessness in 2017

And if the council can’t find another way to raise more money for affordable housing, Mosqueda fears the city won’t be able to get more people off the streets.

“The truth is that we do not have the resources to get the shelter and the housing needed and the truth is if we want to implement the Poppe Report, we must have dollars in hand to implement the recommended housing-first approach.”

Using data from 2014-15, Barbara Poppe — hired by the city to assess its approach to the problem — said in 2016 that Seattle had the resources to house the homeless then if it implemented the recommendations.

In October 2017, Poppe told Seattle’s Morning News on KIRO Radio that, “All of the processes seem to take so long because multiple committees have to weigh in; we want to get to a consensus … Those things really act against the speed of the transformation.”

Before continuing on about involving businesses in the process, Mosqueda also said that the process to get people into shelters and homes is taking too long.

“I agree with every frustration you will hear from this council and the community that we cannot wait. This iteration of this process alone took us six months.”

Archive: Long-term homeless solutions may take up to two years in Seattle

Might we recommend rather than spending thousands of dollars and some effort conducting a nearly useless survey, Mosqueda take that money for a PR campaign explaining exactly how the $54 million was spent in 2017 before asking for more. After all, we hear that Seattle voters are tired of homeless spending.

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