[Hpn] City OKs spending to assist homeless;Seattle Times;10/30/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Tue, 30 Oct 2001 10:17:25 -0500

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Tuesday, October 30, 2001
Seattle Times <http://seattletimes.nwsource.com>
[Seattle, Washington]
Local News section
City OKs spending to assist homeless

By Beth Kaiman
Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seattle City Council yesterday agreed to the city's largest single 
effort to get homeless people off the street, a plan that calls for adding 
170 shelter beds, 70 units of transitional housing and, if voters approve a 
tax levy next year, 200 units of permanent and transitional housing.

Over the next 1-1/2 years, the plan would cost $2.75 million. Later, it 
would cost many millions more if the housing levy is approved.

"I think this does send a loud and resounding statement to the homeless 
people in our community that we care," said Councilman Peter Steinbrueck, 
who worked for months to broker an agreement that the city could afford and 
advocates for the homeless could support.

In exchange for the council's approval of new spending on shelter and 
housing, backers of Initiative 71 have agreed to drop their ballot issue, 
which would have gone before voters next year.

Should the council fail to follow through with the $2.75 million plan, 
however, the initiative would go back on the ballot. A King County Superior 
Court judge approved the arrangement last week.

Initiative 71 would have given the city 18 months to add 400 shelter beds to 
the 2,300 now available and increase spending on services for the homeless 
by 20 percent. City officials estimated the annual cost at $2.7 million and 
predicted millions more would have to be spent to build shelters.

Even city officials who have supported unprecedented spending on the 
homeless saw the proposal as too costly for tough financial times. And they 
worried that if the initiative appeared on a 2002 ballot, it would compete 
with renewal of the low-income-housing levy, already scheduled for the 

The amount of the levy proposal has not been determined.

People such as Deputy Mayor Tom Byers, housing Director Cynthia Parker and 
Steinbrueck also objected to the initiative's emphasis on emergency shelter. 
The city in recent years has directed money at longer-term housing as well 
as shelter.

Officials began talks with I-71 backers months ago, and in recent weeks, 
Steinbrueck made the issue a central cause.

And as the economy continued to worsen, I-71 sponsors realized that success 
at the polls was hardly a given.

"We're taking a sure thing here instead of a roll of the dice," said Timothy 
Harris, an I-71 organizer and executive director of Real Change, a newspaper 
about homelessness. "It just makes sense now, and this will result in better 
services for people on the street."

The city will spend $1 million toward the shelter beds and related services, 
with $1.4 million in private contributions expected.

The first beds should be available early next year.

The 70 transitional units for singles and families will be funded with $1.75 
million in federal money the city has received and at least that much in 
grants and private contributions, city officials predict.

The spending does not add to the city budget. The money had already been set 
aside for the Office of Housing but had not been spent.

Millions of dollars in city funds would need to be approved by voters for 
the 200 housing units.

The resolution approved yesterday also calls for the council to work on 
developing a new hygiene and day center for the homeless.

Beth Kaiman can be reached bkaiman@seattletimes.com or 206-464-2441.


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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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