Can Durkan turn things around? Former candidate is ‘hopeful’

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The former mayoral candidate who said Seattle “must eliminate the cronyism” and take a data-driven approach to fixing the homeless problem hopes Mayor Jenny Durkan is up to the task.

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“I’m hopeful … I’m a hopeless optimist,” Harley Lever told 770 KTTH’s Todd Herman. “I look at it in the context of what a Cary Moon mayorship would have looked like.”

Lever believes Seattle residents are now “hyper-aware” of the “inefficiencies” of the city’s approach to tackling the homeless problem. Take the recent information published in The Seattle Times as an example.

The Times reports that the city’s Navigation Team, a mixture of police and outreach coordinators meant to help people find a path off the street, doesn’t even have access to King County’s Homeless Management Information System. The system contains information on all of the city’s homeless services.

Meanwhile, the city is dealing with approximately 400 homeless camps. The Times reports 165 camps have been cleared out this year.

Lever argues the city is spending far more than other cities on homelessness. Thee 2018 budget includes $63 million to address homelessness.

While running for office, Lever argued:

“We must capture data, measure our strategies, measure our contractor performance, and only invest in solutions and contractors proven to work. We must eliminate the cronyism cited by our homeless experts and invest in a coordinated care system where housing, mental health, addiction, and job development services share data and work strategically to help our homeless neighbors back into society.”

Barbara Poppe, a homeless consultant for the city, has said something similar in the past. In 2016, she criticized city leaders for not taking action.

“I love all of you in Seattle. You’re great folks — smart strategic providers,” Poppe said. “But it is not a community that … you’re much more inclined toward discussion and planning and process that goes on and on and on.”

This year, Poppe told the Seattle City Council that while its approach to solving the homeless crisis is transforming, it’s too little, too late.

“It’s just that the scale and the pace need to be greater in order to have the kind of impacts you all are looking to see in your community,” she said.

The hope now is that Durkan can take the city in a direction that will eventually lead a reduction in the homeless population.

Listen to the entire conversation here.