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Seattle candidate: We’ve reached ‘compassion fatigue’ with homeless

Seattle's Navigation Teams cleans up a homeless encampment in Northgate in January 2019. (Carolyn Ossorio, KIRO Radio)

Numerous Seattle residents are unhappy with the direction of the city, and chief among the concerns is the Seattle homeless issue and the city council’s lack of an urgent response. Council candidate Ann Davison Sattler is running against Debora Juarez in District 5, which includes Lake City, Broadview, and Northgate, where such issues appear disproportionately overt.

She joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss how the city is failing the homeless issue and what she hopes to bring to the table.

“There’s not really a concrete plan about what to do. It’s just reactionary after months of complaints about growing encampments. Then the city eventually comes in,” she said. “I do feel like because we declared a state of emergency in 2015 on homelessness at the city and county level that we should be giving it a proportional response.”

Sattler originally moved to Seattle to work for the SuperSonics, and is currently an attorney and mother of two. She says she’s witnessed the Seattle homeless problem impact everything from businesses to families using parks, and while she appreciates programs like the Navigation Team, she says they’re often not effective and timely.

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“I think that they are an important part of what we’re doing but they’re not doing it effectively and they’re coming in too late. I think we need to have them but we need to have a place for people to go,” she said. “They’re coming in late after neighbors are already at this level of compassion fatigue where they have increased crime, they have increased litter, they have lost a sense of safety, they’ve lost the ability to go to the green public spaces that are supposed to be open for everyone and they’re fed up.”

“By allowing that to fester we are alienating the tax base at the same time and not providing care for those who are the most vulnerable in these encampments, and we’re allowing bad actors to thrive,” she added.

Sattler sees this lack of urgency on the Seattle homeless issue as devastating to the business community as well, with customers avoiding businesses because of what’s going on around them.

“It has been growing for years and we’ve had experts tell us that we need to be forming a regional response. And that’s just now in the making … I feel like everyone has had their time and this is all increased on their watch including the current councilmember I’m running against,” she said. “I’ve spoken with someone who had an encampment right next to their business and he estimated losing about $10,000 a month in walk-in business right there on 99. I went and helped clean up needles along that area and saw how bad it was while it was still there.”

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For Sattler, the growing frustration is causing residents and businesses questions how their tax dollars are being put to work.

“That’s what’s been allowed to happen: The deterioration of local economy and small business to where people are saying, ‘Why should I do this? Why should I maintain my business here when my tax dollars are not even providing me the service of litter cleanup, of safety, of law enforcement, and seeing that we’re actually using the top tax dollars to help people that are in need at the same time.”

To learn more about Sattler’s campaign, head to neighborsforann.com

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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