Seattle mayoral candidate unveils expansive plan to address city’s homeless crisis

Sep 23, 2021, 4:44 PM | Updated: Sep 24, 2021, 6:07 am
Lorena Gonzalez, Seattle homeless crisis...
Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez. (Lorena For Seattle)
(Lorena For Seattle)

Seattle City Council President and mayoral candidate Lorena Gonzalez unveiled her plan to address the city’s homeless crisis in her first 100 days, should she win the November election.

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Gonzalez outlined seven separate facets to her first-100-day approach. That includes a vow to “rapidly increase shelter capacity and assess encampments across all neighborhoods,” as well as ramping up construction of affordable housing, establishing additional mental health resources, and tackling the city’s increased cost of living.

“Trying to cope with symptoms of homelessness without addressing the root causes will not succeed,” Gonzalez said in a written release detailing her plan. “My administration will leverage all Seattle’s resources and lean into our partnerships at every level of government and in every neighborhood.”

Among her proposals is a plan to address the city’s single-family zoning laws as a means to providing more affordable housing.

“To build the affordable homes we need, we have to change outdated laws that prevent multi-family housing in 70% of Seattle’s residential areas,” she detailed.

Gonzalez also promises to “start rebalancing the tax code” so large corporations like Amazon pay higher rates, although she does not specify how that would operate in contrast to the city’s existing JumpStart big business tax.

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This comes in the wake of a push from Gonzalez’s opponent in the mayoral race, Bruce Harrell, to implement components of a recently-struck down homelessness initiative from Compassion Seattle. Harrell outlined his own goals in an open letter to city councilmembers on his campaign website, calling on them to incorporate parts of Compassion Seattle’s proposal into the city budget this November, encompassing a minimum 12% investment in homeless response efforts, and “reflecting the core mandate of the proposed amendment.”

The initiative would have amended Seattle’s city charter to mandate an additional 2,000 shelter beds or permanent housing units within a one-year period by waiving building permit fees, treating housing permit applications as “first-in-line” for expedited treatment, and refunding to the payee the city’s portion of the sales tax paid for these facilities. It also would have placed a requirement on the city to “ensure that parks, playgrounds, sports fields, public spaces, and sidewalks and streets remain open and clear of encampments.”

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Seattle mayoral candidate unveils expansive plan to address city’s homeless crisis