LOCAL NEWS

Effort to ‘uncomplicate’ homeless issue could be lesson for Seattle

Sep 9, 2016, 5:19 AM

As the City of Seattle struggles to deal with a growing homeless population and the council considers an ordinance that would make it more difficult to remove people living on public property, another city is touting its simplistic methods to help people in need.

The Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico and his city are celebrating the one-year anniversary of “There’s a Better Way,” a pilot program that gives “panhandlers a chance at a change in life.”

The program, which cost about $50,000 for the first year, is extremely simple. Trained staff from a local non-profit drive around in a van and offer panhandlers a job for a day. At the end of the day, the city pays them $9 an hour and offers health and human services — lunch is also provided.

Mayor Richard J. Berry told Seattle’s Morning News that the idea was about making things less complicated.

“When people have that dignity of working for a day and they know that somebody — for the first time in maybe decades — reached out to say, ‘we care about you as an individual, a person, a human’ … You begin that process of rebuilding lives,” Berry said.

“It’s amazing to watch these folks when they have an opportunity,” he said.

The program has provided work for more than 900 people each a day. Of those, 116 have been connected with permanent jobs, according to Mayor Berry.

Berry says there have been no issues between the program and city workers. Most of the work is low-level-type stuff, such as weeding and picking up litter. It actually frees up workers to tackle more aggressive projects, he says.

The program is a stark contrast to what is currently being discussed by Seattle officials. That includes an ordinance drafted by the ACLU and other advocate groups, which would create a framework for how homeless encampments will be allowed or removed from city property. Critics argue that the ordinance will allow camping on public land throughout the city, making homeless encampments legal. Others say it will strike a balance between compassion and a solution to the crisis.

The ordinance was introduced by council member Mike O’Brien and sponsored by Rob Johnson, Lisa Herbold, and Kshama Sawant. Tim Burgess, however, argued that the ordinance “tips the balance away from public health and safety.” Council President Bruce Harrell voted to move it forward, but said he could not support it in its current form.

The ordinance is just another part of the ongoing discussion of how to help the growing number of people living on the streets. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray planned to release two reports this week on the issue. Citing council member Sally Bagshaw, The Seattle Times reports that there will be recommendations to provide more housing to homeless people.

The city budgeted more than $40 million on homelessness for 2016.

Though he admits it isn’t a “cure all,” Mayor Berry says Albuquerque’s pilot program is a “solution to get at the root of the problem.”

If Berry has any advice for Seattle, it’s that tent cities aren’t a good idea (and he’s not the only one).

“This is one of those nice examples that as a government we uncomplicate this.”

Seattle homeless program mirrors Albuquerque

Though city officials seem to be marred in process, a combined effort by United Way, the Millionair Club, and Downtown Seattle Association has already taken it upon itself to start a program similar to Albuquerque’s.

“Jobs connect,” program about six months old, has connected 15 homeless people with jobs. Outreach has been mainly downtown, but Jon Scholes with the Downtown Association says that outreach is growing.

The idea is essentially the same as in Albuquerque. A team offers homeless people jobs within a cleaning program managed by the Association and funded by property owners.

Though it’s a start, Scholes says more needs to be done.

“We need more housing. We need more treatment. And we need more job opportunities,” he told Seattle’s Morning News. “Its not one of those things, it’s all of them.”

Local News

Seattle police protest...
Hanna Scott

Audit from police watchdog warns of ‘gaps in the discipline system’ for Seattle officers

An audit of the Seattle Police Department’s disciplinary system lead to nearly a dozen recommendations by the city’s Office of Inspector General.
11 hours ago
Election fraud...
Nick Bowman

Claims of election fraud from Washington Republicans persist amid flood of emails to AG’s office

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson was flooded with emails last weekend, pushing for him to support the latest claims of election fraud.
11 hours ago
Green Lake...
MyNorthwest Staff

Should Seattle take a traffic lane for an outer loop at Green Lake?

Green Lake in Seattle could have an outer loop in the near future with even more space for people to walk, run, and bike around the lake. 
11 hours ago
Washington state forest...
Dalton Day

Washington state to preserve, reseed two million acres of forest by 2040

The state Department of Natural Resources makes a substantial investment in its forests, pledging to preserve or restore 2 million acres of trees by 2040.
1 day ago
homeless encampments...
Dalton Day

King County Council rejects attempt to remove public homeless encampments

King County Council ahs rejected a motion to codify procedure for removal of homeless encampments in unincorporated King county.
1 day ago
Charleena Lyles...
MyNorthwest Staff

Seattle agrees to settlement in Charleena Lyles wrongful death lawsuit

The City of Seattle will pay a $3.5 million settlement to the family of Charleena Lyles, a Black woman who was shot and killed by Seattle police in 2017.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Effort to ‘uncomplicate’ homeless issue could be lesson for Seattle