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Seattle council candidate motivated by homelessness

A homeless man sleeps on the sidewalk in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

As Seattle small business owners deal with the homelessness crisis, more of them are jumping into the race for Seattle City Council. One of those business owners is Daniela Eng, who is running in the 7th District to fill the seat of the retiring Sally Bagshaw.

“Being a mom and wanting to increase the public safety in this neighborhood is why I’m doing this. It is unsafe for my child to walk in the park during school without finding needles on the ground,” Eng told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “I’m not the only one dealing with that. There are so many moms who can’t even walk their dog down the street without finding needles or human feces.”

What’s striking for Eng is how much the city has changed since she was kid, and how it exposes children to issues much earlier in life. When driving with her kids passed a tent, they’ll often say, “Mommy look, there’s a homeless person.’ Because when I was five and I saw a tent, I thought someone was camping, and that’s when we saw tents, when people were camping, not because there was someone sleeping on the side of the road.”

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Eng says she keeps an eye out for what works in other cities, and hopes to apply it to Seattle.

“New Jersey has a facility where they have all services in one area. I think a big part of it is that people get lost in the system, and it’s really hard when your social worker isn’t talking to your doctor,” she said. “So if we have one building where someone can go in, and they have their case worker, they have treatment help, they have mental health help, they have a doctor for small issues, and then they have access to job training.”

She also looks to the program in Arlington, which pairs law enforcement with social workers and takes a very direct approach in getting people off the street and preventing crime.

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“I like what Arlington is doing where you have a case worker with a police officer, and anyone who’s committing a crime and needs help, you have two choices, you either go to jail with us now, or you allow us to give you treatment,” Eng said.

“I don’t know why we have an idea that when you try and help a homeless person, by doing that, you’re considered inhumane. I think it’s inhumane that we allow people to live on street in these conditions. We’re so numb to it now.”

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