TRANSCRIPT FROM THE JULY 10TH ETHNIC MEDIA ROUNDTABLE
Contact: Kelsey Nyland, email@example.com
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s Opening Statement
It’s a really difficult time, I think, in our country and in our city right now, for a whole range of reasons.
I think that on the national front, we have seen so many actions against immigrant and refugee communities that there is palpable fear and actual displacement in those communities. That plays out on the streets of Seattle because we have such a large immigrant and refugee population that we’re really proud of, and that we think adds to our diversity, adds to our success. And at the same time, against that backdrop, we have a City of Seattle that has grown tremendously in the last four, seven years.
We went from having the medium house price in Seattle being around $300,000 7 years ago, it’s now over $700,000 today. Rent has also gone up, so Seattle is becoming more and more unaffordable. We have seen communities of color pushed out. We’re seeing that it’s harder for immigrants and refugees to get any kind of toe hold here. And we’re also seeing displacement.
You know, the Central district when I was growing up here, was primarily African Americans. And now it’s not. And it’s not just the residents, but the businesses that are at risk, and the like.
And so, against this backdrop we’re trying to see as a City government how can we make sure that we have programs in place, for example, to fight against some of those fears in immigrant and refugee community that we’re seeing at the federal government level. One perfect example is how we work and come together is around census planning, you know, we as a government can take actions to try to stop the citizenship question. And we can have, like I did as a Mayoral Directive, the City of Seattle will not give information to ICE unless it’s cleared by my general council. There’s got to be warrants and all that so we can avoid what happened at the state department of licensing, and what we’ve seen, recently, this morning in the paper.
But how do we make sure that we both get good information to and hear from communities, and that’s you guys. There is only so much that we can do to, even if we use language and culturally appropriate communications, really, we have to rely on ethnic media to talk to the people. That’s where people go for their source of news. That’s who they trust.
And for us to do job to serve people in these difficult times, we know we really have to rely on and have a better relationship with you, and one reason I wanted to be here today is that intermittently I see all of you around the table, at different times and different functions, but meeting with our Communications team, we think it’s so important to the future of Seattle to do what we need to around housing and wages and making sure that we have projects in each of our neighborhoods and districts that fight against displacement, to give people opportunity.
I’ll give you another example. I was recently at a public forum in South Park, which I go to pretty frequently. And talking to people in the gym afterwards and listening to them, many of them had children in the Seattle Public schools. Very few of them knew that they’re children now could get two years free college. So, we need a better way to reach parents, so they know these opportunities are there for their children.
And we’re now as a city working really hard to combine that free college with other opportunities, so we’re working with businesses and trade unions to bring jobs to kids in high school and while they’re getting that college degree, and as they graduate with that college degree, they actually have a family wage job coming out.
But, some of that communication we rely on the school district, some of it we rely on other things.
But really what we need to do is reach into communities that the best form of communication is the people sitting around this table. So, I want to make sure we have a better and stronger relationship with you because we know, for example, that we need more housing in every part of the city.
As we build that housing and those opportunities become available, or if there’s tenant protections in place to protect people, they have to know what they are, or those protections aren’t real.
So we really want to make sure that I’m accessible, that we are thinking about, as we translate and communicate a lot of really good news, some challenging news, in this time, that we are being able to reach so many people that we don’t otherwise reach. So this is the first of what I hope is, you know, periodic meetings like this, but also so that, you know, I’m able to sit down with you individually and see if there’s ways we can amplify and answer the questions that I know your communities have.
And that you’re sometimes the voices to both ask, and sometimes challenge, and then get responses. So, you know, we know we’ve done some stuff that is working and good, but we know we have to do more.
You know, for example, we’ve got Uncle Bob’s Place that we’re doing in Chinatown-International District. It’s going to be a tremendous great project, but not many people having heard about it and what the parameters are around it.
Our equitable development initiative, when I came in, there was no permanent source of funding to provide to those projects. We were able to devote $5 million a year which is not enough but through that for example, we were able to give seed money to the Ethiopian Community Center so we can finally get that project moving forward. We were able to help, finally, the Filipino Community Center so that project comes online and provides an anchor for the community. We’re doing Africatown through both EDI funds and our housing funds.
So really looking at those community-based solutions so that we have places for people to go, to congregate, inter-generationally, we see so many communities where, because people can’t afford to live here, even if the parents or grandparents can find a place to live, their children and grandchildren are living far away.
So how do we create inter-generational spaces for people to live in?
How do we make sure that the commercial space is available, so that if someone wants to go to find the groceries and stuff that they need for their culture, they don’t have to travel to Kent or Fife, and come back to Seattle?
So, we know there are a number of challenges across the board, but really, people don’t appreciate what a central part how people get information is on just the whole fabric of who they are. The last time I was at the drop-in center for the Filipino community center, you know, I walked in in the main hall, and there was like twenty, mostly older people sitting around, watching the direct broadcast from the Philippines. Because it’s that important for them to stay in touch and get news.
And I know that I haven’t done a good a job as I should do, and I want to be able to be more accessible and answer some questions today.
Question and Answer Period
Can you give us your reaction to the report that King County has been sharing information with ICE and are there any mechanisms at the City level to ensure compliance?
Yes, and I don’t know enough about that information, but I think again it’s an example of government even with restrictions in place sometimes, things happen that shouldn’t, and it’s really important to get in front of that.
So, at the City of Seattle, we have controls in place but if you go back a little over a year, the State Department of Licensing was giving access to ICE a whole range of records. I instituted, through Executive Order, restrictions that basically prevent and City entity from giving information to ICE unless number one, it is approved by the general council here, but more importantly that there’s a valid either court or true law enforcement purpose. There’s not going to be any fishing off the city dock.
We need that, and as we saw in our Census, if people are fearful, they will not participate. And people have a reason to be fearful given the acts of our government, and the communications of our president. When you can, by tweet, say you’re going to start rounding up millions of people and use those terms, people have a right to be afraid.
And what we want to do from a city standpoint is say we want to do everything we can to make sure you know you can be secure in your community.
Thank you always for coming out and speaking to community. I’ve seen you a lot in the community. You are encouraging, you know, but I feel I’ve lived in Seattle for 20 years and I’ve seen my community thrive in Seattle, South Seattle area. Once I called that area home. I’ve seen my food, my community, everybody, but nowadays, you know, the community are pushed out, further to the South. Still, they love Seattle. Even though they live in Tacoma, they live further away, they still say “I love Seattle.” So, that’s how they are.
And now, my question is, whole family we live in Yesler, mainly I, you know, the Somalia community everywhere, in New Holly, in Rainier Vista, how can you make sure to build affordable housing to keep this community inside Seattle?
That’s a great question, and we know that housing is one of those areas that we have fallen so far behind both in terms of housing that’s affordable and accessible for people, and we’ve seen exactly what you’ve said as a result.
Communities have been pushed out of the city and even people who live here don’t know how long they can hold on.
And it’s not just low-income. It’s our middle-income workers, you know, teachers, our social workers, our nurses. They can’t afford places in Seattle.
So, we will see in the next 9 months or the next four months, we’re going to roll out a whole set of housing initiatives.
In the first two years that I was mayor, we were able to announce housing investments that will translate to about seven hundred and twenty million dollars of new and low-income housing. We hope in the next year to two years, we can announce an equal amount in the next two years.
But we also know that we’ve got to do more than that, because sometimes by the time housing comes online, it’s too late for the people who live there. They’ve already moved.
And so, I also issued an executive order that is an anti-displacement strategy that includes community preference. So, people from that community and people pushed out from that community, and we’ve got to test the legal bound for that second group, get first preference for the housing that we’re building so they can stay in place.
The other thing we need to do is jobs. We need to make sure to keep that pipeline of jobs so that we don’t have this split in great prosperity between the jobs we’re creating for tech and the jobs that aren’t so we’ve got to make sure that the prosperity is shared because the long run what we want is for people to have economic opportunity real economic opportunity so that they can have the job and be able to afford to live in Seattle.
Along those lines, I know that your administration has been active in trying to secure low-income and affordable housing.
But, is the affordable housing, most people have been asking, who is it affordable to? So my question to you: are there conversations within the city for Seattle to have its own housing model more in line with a neighborhood preservation housing program that kind of keeps the integrity of the neighborhoods intact, because when they’re building things, now, is either A. they’re taking down a house and putting three or four houses up there, that are really small and really aren’t conducive to single family homes, or they’re taking down whole blocks and they’re putting apartments and condos above retail space, which is changing the way that Seattle looks and feels.
So I guess my question to you is: are there conversations that are happening in terms of having a different model that’s more neighborhood preservation housing that takes into consideration the income levels of working class people more so than trying to rely on median household incomes?
It’s a great question.
The answer is yes, I will tell you it is a challenging thing for the city to do because we have a fair amount of tools to build low-income housing, which some people think of as affordable.
As Seattle’s grown now, affordable means basically up to 120% AMI in order to afford somewhere in Seattle. So, we’re focusing on how do we have more affordable middle-income and worker housing and we’re doing a range of things.
One, I created a task force of affordable middle-income housing task force that is looking at a range of tools we can have as a city to bring private developer capital to the table, maybe using City land to build housing that is affordable for the middle-income. We’re also looking at an extension of the multi-family tax exemption credit, which gives a tax break to those people building, you know, multi-family projects, but they have to create, within their project, middle-income housing. It’s one of the few tools we have.
So, we’re looking at that as well, in the neighborhood characteristic, yesterday I was able to sign the bill that allows accessory dwelling units and detached accessory dwelling units. If we do that right, you could take an existing house and lot in a neighborhood; many people already have the equivalent of what we call mother-in-law apartment. Someone who’s used their basement or their garage. You make that legal and you have a backyard cottage.
We are looking, I signed an executive order, too. We have identified resources, we’re looking to make sure we can do it legally, to create a revolving loan fund to help assist people to build those, because they’re expensive to build, people who normally wouldn’t be able to build those, to have the funds to do it. Make it easy for them to have plans, so we’re going to curate some plans and have an online, here’s four designs, if you pick one of these designs, you get the plans for free, we’ll give you your permit in 30 days.
But then tie with that with if you use our financing, our plans, and our expedited permitting, you’ve got to have that rent protected for people who can afford it. So, we’re really trying to encourage its use as affordable housing, and not as say, a short-term rental. So, we’re looking at a range of tools, it’s probably the area that we have the fewest tools, but, for example, before I was in this meeting, I was in a meeting with the City Attorney’s office to see exactly that.
How do we create housing for that missing middle in a more intentional way?
We don’t want to become a city where we have very affluent, and public housing. We want to make sure that we have families and places that workers can live and see.
I think you have done a lot on the homeless issue, and I think it’s one of the best in the nation and thank you.
And it’s said that Seattle is too nice to homeless people and Seattle has attracted more homeless from other cities in the state and other states of the nation. There are more homeless coming to Seattle and I know there’s some people, some businesses are moving out of Seattle, because of homeless issue, more homeless.
I have friends in Chinatown, they have a business in Chinatown, but they are planning to move out because there are so many homeless on the street, so my question is do you have a balance point to solving, doing a good job on the homeless issue and doing a good job on seeing development?
It’s a great question.
So, I really don’t believe it’s an either/or.
I think that the challenge of homelessness is one that almost every city in the country is facing in different directions.
People often point to cities, say hey, I just went to New York and there are no tents. New York has a right to housing, so they literally spend over a billion dollars a year just sheltering people.
So, we have some good news, we have moved more people from homelessness in the last year than we ever have before. We moved over 5000 people from homelessness to long-term housing.
In past years in Seattle, that would’ve solved the problem, but it hasn’t because of economic forces, more people are falling into homelessness than ever before.
So, we’re trying to do a range of things. And some of what we’re doing is working.
First, we have to go upstream, and prevent people from becoming homeless.
And we see for example, you can assume that a certain percentage of people become homeless, because they can no longer afford the rent, they couch surf for a while, then they live in their car, if they have one, and then they’re living homeless.
So how do we make sure, for those people, what they really need is not shelter space and going on a list for housing, what they really need is 4 months’ rent, 6 months’ rent, to stay in place. Or they need to get their car repaired, or they need to pay some doctor’s bills.
So, we’re looking at a most robust system of diversion and prevention, and the programs we’ve had have shown really great success. We have a voucher system, a rental voucher system, that we offer to people who are on the waiting list for SHA, this way we’ve provided vouchers so they could stay housed and not become homeless.
So, we’re going to spend more money in that direction.
The second thing we did is when I came into office, the majority of shelter space we had in the City of Seattle was basically what they call mats on the floor. People would line up at 5pm, they’d get their meal, they’d get their mats on the floor, get kicked out at 6am.
It is shown that not only is that not a good way to deal with homelessness, but it did not have a success rate for moving people from shelter to long term housing.
So, we have increased the amount of enhanced shelters, which means we have 24/7 shelters, shelters where you can leave your property, shelters where you can have couples it varies on it.
That shelter has a 5x higher rate at moving people into long-term living. So now, the majority of our shelter is enhanced shelter, we increase shelter by 500 shelter beds, approximately 25%, so we can get more people out of unsafe spaces.
It’s still a great challenge, and we know that a number of people who we are paying shelter for in the City of Seattle are not from Seattle.
But that has been true since frontier times in Seattle, I mean the words “skid row” which many people have heard before, originated right here in Seattle. It was the area where people who didn’t have jobs, didn’t have housing lived in that part of the City and they called it skid row because that’s where they skid their logs down the slew.
Where there is prosperity, people go thinking they can get that prosperity.
And when it doesn’t work people become homeless in larger numbers.
We also have a moderate climate, we have lots of services, so I think that we can do both, we have to do better.
I think one area that we’re seeing – as the federal government steps away from its jobs for society, and the state government defunds things like addiction services and mental health needs, cities become the safety net. And we are seeing more and more of our hard to house homeless population have behavioral health issues – mental health, addiction services sometimes both, and cities don’t have the resources to deal with all of those.
That’s one reason we’re forming a regional governance with King County, so we can have those behavioral health dollars and funds and strategies together with the shelter strategies to really see if we can have a holistic program, that isn’t just Seattle trying to go it alone, and different cities trying to go it alone.
So we know that there’s impacts for example in Chinatown-International District, and we’re really trying to work with communities to make sure that number one we create enough housing there for people to stay in place, and that for those people experiencing homelessness when there’s big impacts on the community, that we take appropriate steps to get those people services and housing somewhere else.
So, one issue of concern in the Chinatown-International District is that the historic core of the district, historians would say the historic core was established in 1987, some believe that that is out of date, and it’s unable to protect buildings that may be historic, but they fall outside of the boundaries. For example, the Bush Garden Restaurant and Karaoke Bar.
Historians would say it’s a very historic building, but it lacks those protections.
Would you support an effort by Seattle to update this Chinatown-International District’s historic boundaries?
Yes, and I think, look, Chinatown-International District is, I think it is one of the most economically and culturally fragile places that we have. And it has an outsized importance to remind us as a city the importance of that heritage.
I mean, it’s one reason why, I was on the Sound Transit Board, I fought so hard to make sure that we kept all the alternatives for Sound Transit on the table, if you look it was first created because we excluded people from living anywhere else.
Then, it’s a city that survived, you know, the Chinese Exclusion Laws, and the Japanese Internment, you know, and it’s been at the crossroads of all these other big transportation projects that we’ve had in Seattle.
It’s not enough that it just holds on, we have to find a way to make it continue to be vibrant.
Thank you for taking my question mayor. Earlier you talked about the value of sharing prosperity, among communities.
I was wondering, have you had this discussion with the major industries and companies that are based in Seattle, and can you characterize those discussions, and do they share these same concerns?
Yes, and yes.
I would say every discussion I have with business employers is that as we create this economic prosperity for some, it’s part of their obligation to make sure that that is shared prosperity. A
And how do we make sure that there’s a model for doing that. So, you know, you’ve got a range of people for different projects, you know, for example, Plymouth Housing is underway now for $70 million worth of low-income housing funded by the major corporate supporters.
We’ve got to bring philanthropy, business, non-profit, labor, at the same table, and everybody’s got to roll up their sleeves, and communities of faith. This problem is big for government to solve alone, and it’s too important for anyone not to be at the table.
So, every conversation I have, whether it’s business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, it’s the same message, there’s various things that people can do that I think that if we activate, we can have a much bigger impact.
Like what? Like which sort of things?
There’s a whole range of things.
For example, on regional governance for homelessness, there we’re bringing to the table a range of players from the providers, to philanthropy, to business, to government, to say what do we do in the spectrum of services to make sure that we’re providing a holistic range of services to bring people from homelessness to living in long-term housing.
And how do we devise strategies around each of the sectors, because the family who is living in their car because the mom is escaping domestic violence, or someone lost a job, needs a different strategy than the person who has a methamphetamine addiction living in a tent.
And so what do we do for each of these to make sure we have the right people who are able to provide the support and services they need?
And so we just did, last week, I was able to unveil a new initiative to reduce youth homelessness, and in the room we had Starbucks, major philanthropy providers, government, each saying here’s what we have to do to actually end youth homelessness.
And it’s everything from not just how we provide housing, but how do we provide jobs, and opportunity, and education.
And make sure that from services, everyone’s at the table and providing their part of the role.
It even had Pearl Jam, who did home shows to provide $10 million dollars to support this initiative.
I think there’s no one solution for any of the problems. Every one of our problems is so multi-faceted, we have to be putting in a variety of bricks before we have the build. Thank you.
According to some sources,
Not true! No ha ha…
Seattle homeless issue, the majority of it, is drug issue. And I have friends that live in Queen Anne, and she no longer dares to put her kids running around the beaches, and they even don’t go to Gasworks Park to watch fireworks on July 4th because they’re so afraid that kids will run into needles and stuff like that. So, they drive to Bellevue to watch the fireworks.
And I was thinking, Seattle has put a lot of money on drug addicts issue, and I was wondering if you have any specific plan in the future to help?
So first, I think it’s a couple, step back a little bit.
So, a significant range of people are people experiencing homelessness.
And I think it’s a really important thing for everybody to know that while a number of people who are experiencing homelessness also suffer from behavioral health issues, either drug addiction or mental health, it is not everyone.
And while there is a part of the population, we’ve heard a lot about the repeat offenders, it’s more of a Venn Diagram, there are some people committing criminal acts who are homeless, but not all homeless people are committing criminal acts.
And we are making great progress, not as much progress as I’d like, but for the first time since 2012 our One-Night Count for homelessness has dropped by almost 17%. We saw that number drop. Now that’s a One-Night Count.
It’s not dispositive of the issue, it shows you that if we focus for example on veterans, we were able to move and reduce the number of veterans experiencing homelessness significantly. When we focus on youth, we can drive that down.
But we know that when we have individualized strategies it works, so I think we have to really make sure the public understands that the services we are providing are working for some people. We still have a problem with issues that the City doesn’t really control.
We don’t control resources related to drug problems or mental health problems. Those are the federal, the county and the state.
And so it’s one reason why we want one regional system to deal with homelessness, so all those things can be at the same place, I also convened, because the city doesn’t really control it, but we saw a lot of reports about repeat offenders, people who would commit crimes, get arrested, come back and commit crimes, get arrested. Often low-level crimes, but sometimes not.
The City’s police department can arrest people, but it’s up to the prosecutors to decide whether to charge, the court system on whether they get convicted, if they’re not competent but have problems we deal with those, so we have a work group that has everybody at the table. The two court systems, the two prosecutor systems, public defenders, and the like to say what are the strategies we can have to address some of these really grave concern that people have that’s real, that is focused on, we know the criminal justice is the most expensive and the least effective strategy for intervening if people’s lives or health is a problem.
So how do we make sure we use our resources in a way that is smart, it doesn’t mean there’s not going to be accountability if people commit crimes, but if someone is repeatedly arrested for shoplifting, putting them in jail time and time again is not going to break that cycle. What’s going to break that cycle is if you can figure out a way to support them and put them in a place where they don’t need to shoplift to exist.
And so, you can both reduce the impact on the small business owner, that is happy to lose and have their business impacted or their community, but also have a system that is designed to really make a difference.
A follow-up to her question. As a City are you putting more resources into clean-ups or patrols to look for encampments? Because we are seeing that we’re seeing needles in parks that didn’t used to have needles in them and it’s moving its way through the city.
So, is there emphasis from the parks department to have more cleanups and patrols?
Yeah and it’s part of this is the parks department will have more training now on how to collect sharps and how to look out for sharps, they have to be handled a certain way, obviously, and so we rely on the public to report it because sometimes we don’t hear about it until the public tells us, so we really encourage the public that if there’s an area that you have concerns about, let us know. We’ve been able in the last month or so to have more quick attention to problems like that.
We also have a number of neighborhood and communities that people would set up encampments on sidewalks and sidewalks would also become areas with active drug use, needles, and the like. And so, we went to a 7 day a week navigation team format. So, we go to the encampment, we always offer services first, we tell people that they need to move, that they can’t be blocking that area, and then we clean up. So we’ve seen a market reduction in some of those neighborhoods and communities but any time anyone has a concern they should make sure they either use the Find It, Fix It app, or other resources to make sure that we know it’s there, we’ll get there to clean up the sharps and needles.
It is a growing problem not just in Seattle but everywhere, we did a pilot project where Seattle public utilities did sharp collection. . .
If you say to people, we’re not going to count you, you’re really saying you don’t matter. And they do matter, they need to know they matter, but we know the fear is real. And so we want to make sure we reduce that fear because the other thing it does and one reason we know this federal government doesn’t, they know, we now know from records we’ve found that if they added the citizen question, fewer people would fill out the census forms from immigrant and refugee communities, so the numbers would look lower, and when those numbers are lower, the state and the cities get less money from the federal government.
For everything from child support, for nutrition programs, to block grants. All the money that comes from the federal government, a good portion is divvied up by what the census count is. So, if you have an undercount, not only have you done your, if what you’re trying to do is make people afraid, but you’re also cutting the support to those very cities and states that are trying to support immigrants and refugees.
So, it’s really important for us to do it one because it’s the right thing to do and two because it will make sure we get our fair share of both federal resources, and we might get another Congressperson here in Washington state.
But I know that people are afraid, and I want people to know that we’re going to be doing everything we can to reach into community to say that by responding, you will not be putting yourself or your family at risk. Did I answer your question?
Kind of. How can you ensure that you wouldn’t be putting families at risk, especially undocumented communities, because I have more people, meetings in regards to the Census and I have a good feeling that the community is well aware of the benefits participating in the Census and what would happen and the negative feedback if they don’t participate.
They have that very clear, there’s not much need in telling them why it’s important to participate. The fear is if they do, they are undocumented.
What kind of guarantees are out there given the fact that there’s a growing lack of trust in government, presently, what you just mentioned today, in King County, King County Airport, the Department of Licensing, the list goes on and on every three months there’s a new case that comes to light not because it was shared precisely by the government officials but because it was reported from local reporters.
So, going back to my question. You said it’s safe to participate, that you would ensure that families are safe, how can you assure that?
So, no one can give 100% assurance, and it would be wrong for me to say that you could.
But what I can say is it would be a priority for the City of Seattle, Seattle Police Department, the region, I think also for everyone in this region, to make sure that there is a law that prohibits the federal government from using this information and giving it to law enforcement. Now, part of the distrust everyone has says well that’s fine, but do we trust them not to do it?
I can assure you that every step of the way we are going to be working to protect the people to do what they have a right to do, which is be protected.
Can I promise you it’ll protect everyone? No, I don’t think anyone can promise you that, but what I can promise you is they’re going to have to get through a lot of the roadblocks that the City and our partners are going to set up to make sure they can’t first deter people from filling it out and then using it that information inappropriately.
Mayor, thank you for explaining some of the ways that the City will work to protect that information. You also mentioned possibly $1 million in funding to reach into those communities, to talk to them, to reassure them it’ll be ok. I was wondering if you could provide some examples more specifically about how that outreach effort will happen, and what kind of movements will be included in that.
So there’s a regional group that has community partners and community based organizations, Governor Locke who was Secretary of Commerce and ran the last Census is one of the Co-Chairs, Seattle Foundation is the entity which is holding the money and they are doing RFPs to community groups, which is a request for proposals, to see how we can best serve a range of communities, so we’re going to get some more information on that because we’re in the beginning stages, but we’re also tying it to grass-roots efforts.
Because really, we know this is going to be in many communities, small meetings, door to door, people they trust listening to, to be able to reach into those entities. So, let’s get you some more information. If you had follow-up questions, I’d be happy to let you know more.
Thanks so much.
Are there cities that you think are doing projects on addressing their homelessness issues that you think the City of Seattle could be looking at?
We’re looking across the board at everyone.
Almost on a weekly basis I’m looking at mayors across the country, meeting with folks, saying what they’re doing. We have a delegation from Austin who’s in Seattle, seeing what we’re doing, that they could do differently.
There’s no city that’s figured this out, but we’ve got a range of potential pilots that other areas have done that we can say will that work here. And many of the things we are doing, for example, are Navigation Centers, was built on a model that San Francisco was implementing. We saw that they had some good success, and they’ve been able to increase the number that they have more than we have, so we’re looking at a range of services.
Many people look to Seattle as what is working and coming here. If you look at any city, each of their experiences are different. For example, Los Angeles was able to pass a citizen’s bond initiative which gave a little over $1 billion to help fund the issue of homelessness. And with that they also created a cooperative business philanthropy community. They’ve been met with a lot of challenges they didn’t expect, so we’re working with LA to say what’s worked what hasn’t worked on that when you have those additional resources, so we’re not afraid of looking at any model anywhere in the country to see what might work, and I think again, we have to realize, there’s no one thing that a system fixes for anybody.
We have to be willing and agile enough to try a range of things, and some of them won’t work. For example, for a while, everyone pointed to Utah, which was, you know, built on the housing first model, and they created housing for homelessness, and they saw a great decrease. But their numbers have been jumping up again.
And now people are trying to figure out why did you have such success early on but now you’re having the opposite direction?
One of the reasons they had success is they had Church infrastructure there, which was much more holistically developed throughout the Utah community, the Church was in early and largely, now there’s seeing that homeless rates in Utah are creeping up again.
Same with Phoenix, they had some really good success rates early on, and now it looks like some things haven’t worked as well. I will say one thing that we’re looking at in the City of Seattle as another challenge is we have the opioid crisis, which everyone’s familiar with, that’s talked about, presence of needles, Narcan is carried by almost all of our first responders now, we deliver Narcan regularly people on the streets of Seattle.
But now we’re seeing that methamphetamines are on the rise again, significantly.
They do not lend themselves to some of the same treatment, there’s no equivalent of Narcan for methamphetamines. There’s no treatment machine that is medically assisted. So, we’re going to have another rise of kind of challenges to deal with as a city, as that drug increases in popularity.
I want to thank you all for taking the time, don’t make yourselves strangers, and I know the ones on the radio stations, I’ve got to get on the air again, but I know it’s also hard in this day and age for any journalist to make it, and I just applaud you for the work you’re doing and know how important it is. So, thank you for everything you’re doing!