Biden to provide federal aid for Seattle to combat homelessness
May 18, 2023, 4:34 PM
(Melina Mara via Getty Images)
Seattle’s homelessness crisis will get some help from the Biden administration. The White House announced Thursday it will work with several regions, including Seattle, to get more people into housing over the next two years.
Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, Dallas, and the state of California were the other included places the federal initiative is focusing on. Biden’s involvement is to merely accelerate — not replace — local plans to end homelessness, but federal funding may be included.
“While we embrace and are a welcoming city, it certainly comes with a cost and that cost is our people are still falling through the cracks,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said in response to the announcement. “The safeguards are not in place. This all-inside initiative could not have come at a better time for us to help coordinate. What’s working in one city will work here because we’re dealing with the same American issues.”
This announcement follows the departure of Marc Dones as the CEO of the King County Regional Homeless Authority — which works in tandem with Harrell’s staff on dealing with homelessness within Seattle — after running the newly-created organization for the past two years.
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Seattle had more than 13,000 unhoused people, making it the third-largest in the nation, according to The Seattle Times in 2022. The overarching goal of the White House is to reduce homelessness by 25% by January 2025, according to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Federal Strategic Plan.
“This plan meets the urgency of the moment,” Biden said in a prepared statement. “It recognizes that it’s not enough to go back to the way things were before the pandemic. We must build a better future for all Americans. This plan also recognizes that homelessness should not be a partisan issue. A great nation has a moral obligation to ensure housing, but it’s also the smart thing to do.”
Biden stressed this has been in the works since he first became president in 2021, springboarding off his American Rescue Plan that was signed into law in March 2021. That plan aimed to provide billions of dollars in rental assistance to people who were struggling during the pandemic while also reducing eviction filings.
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“But there’s much more to do. Americans of all backgrounds all across the country are struggling with housing costs that have far outpaced wage growth,” Biden continued in his address. “At the same time, often due to historical inequities, veterans, low-income workers, people of color, LGBTQ+ Americans, people with disabilities, older adults, and people with arrest or conviction records are at greater risk of homelessness. They have fewer opportunities to access safe, affordable housing and health care and face more barriers to fulfilling these basic needs once they lose them.”