Poll: Despite optimism, homelessness remains Seattle’s No. 1 issue

Oct 19, 2022, 5:02 AM
Homelessness continues to be an issue across Puget Sound. (Melina Mara/Getty Images)
(Melina Mara/Getty Images)

For Seattle residents, the same three issues currently remain above the rest: Homelessness, affordability, and public safety, according to the results of The Index, a poll of 700 voters (100 from each of the city’s districts).

“I think of note, again, homelessness is cooling as a top priority. And I think that is in large part because people are seeing that progress is being made. It is slow progress, but it is progress,” explained Rachel Smith, the CEO and President of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, during a call with reporters this week. “For me, this sort of notion of hopefulness that the voters are optimistic about the future that they are proud to call themselves Seattleites, and there are indications that the voters believe we are turning the corner.”

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Smith cited the city’s regional approach to aid the homeless crisis, alongside both public and private sectors continuing to work together, as reasons for optimism.

82% of voters — including 83% of self-identified Democrats — support closing homeless encampments once alternative shelter and services have been provided, even if that means those who refuse services are going to be displaced.

On the issue of public safety, most continued to state they feel less safe in their own neighborhoods, while also sharing concerns about their safety downtown. Nearly three-quarters of Seattle voters agree that hiring more cops should be an immediate priority for the city. But trust in the city to deliver on police reform and budgeting remains low.

Most voters also said they felt their quality of life has declined.

A big surprise from the poll came in the rezoning conversation, with voters supporting policy action to increase housing, including in their own neighborhoods.

And two-thirds supported zoning and permitting changes to allow for more density across the city — even if it means more duplexes and triplexes in single-family housing zones.

“Elected leaders have multiple upcoming opportunities to advance housing affordability through the city’s comprehensive plan, state action, and changes to processes and permitting,” said Smith. “Voters are telling them to go for it. They’re ready to see the increases in housing supply that will increase the opportunity for more people to live and succeed in Seattle.”

Check the full results of the poll here.

Follow Hanna Scott on Twitter or email her here

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Poll: Despite optimism, homelessness remains Seattle’s No. 1 issue