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Candidate Isabelle Kerner hopes to combat homelessness with cargo containers, work

(Photo courtesy of Isabelle Kerner)

Council candidate Isabelle Kerner is putting homelessness at the forefront of her District 7 campaign, but she is offering solutions that go to into a bit more detail than your average candidate.

She joined the Saul Spady Show on KTTH to discuss what motivated her to run  for City Council and how her merit-based solutions involving shipping containers could affect positive change.

“I call it (the homeless crisis) a camping crisis. Some people have a problem with that but I just feel like it encompasses all of the other issues, from property crime to open drug use to human trafficking, public health and sanitation,” she said. “I don’t think the district is that safe. I don’t think the city of Seattle is very safe.”

“Recently, there was a building across the street from the apartment building I live in that’s been vacant for a little over a year, and there were about 60 to 90 squatters living there,” Kerner said. “Luckily they’re out now but it took a lot of news interviews and building inspections because they kept just ripping the boards off and getting back in.”

Kerner is interested in using shipping containers to create a temporary, safe environment that caters to the individual struggles of homeless people and helps launch them into more permanent housing.

“The idea would be that when individuals are reached by the navigation team, they would take a drug test and fill out a questionnaire and it would be streamlined. It would go straight to a database, and there’d be different sites,” she said. “So if there’s women and children on the streets that are fleeing domestic violence, you wouldn’t put them in the same area as severely mentally ill or severely drug addicted.”

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“The individuals would be chosen to fit with a certain cargo container site with people that are struggling with issues that are similar to ones they’re struggling with, and we’d use the apprenticeship program, partner with businesses, and they’d have the opportunity to live there for three to eight months, and get on-site services and treatment.”

While there, residents would have the ability to start building income and skills that could be put toward creating a more productive life.

“They’d even be able to work and earn money and it would be deposited into what I call a restart fund, kind of like a retirement fund, but they just couldn’t take it out until they exited the program. Because the funds would serve as their first month’s rent, last month’s rent, security deposit, and a little bit extra. And then they would exit the program with enough funding to afford the upfront costs for affordable housing, along with a job that would allow them to continue to afford that housing.”

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Before any of this can happen, Kerner says we need a course change at the city council in how they approach actual solutions.

“The numbers that we’re getting from the city on how crime has gone down and homelessness has gone down–not even the people on the streets were buying it. I’ve looked at the counting method and it’s all off.” she said. “My concern is that we’ll end up voting in the same sort of people that we already have in the city council, who I would not say are the most creative group.”

Listen to the Saul Spady Show weekday afternoons from 6-9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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