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Report : Seattle spent $53 million on the homeless in 2017

As Seattle leaders debate a big business tax to help the homeless crisis, KOMO News has obtained an unpublished report that shows how the city spent more than $53 million on the homeless in 2017. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - As Seattle leaders debate a big business tax to help the homeless crisis, KOMO News has obtained an unpublished report that shows how the city spent more than $53 million on the homeless in 2017.

Although millions have been spent, Seattle's homeless population continues to rise.

Seattle's homeless response claims there are about 8,000 homeless people in the city - sheltered or unsheltered.

But last Friday, Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez shared a new number.

"We have over five thousand people who've been able to exit permanently out of homelessness," she told a Town Hall.

In the bigger picture, that's a good number - but it came from a report nobody knew about.

"I'm sorry that I did not bring copies for folks, because I think you all would be interested in seeing the numbers," Gonzalez added.

The report, obtained by KOMO News, said the city spent $53,543,254 and got 5,038 people, who used to be homeless, into permanent housing last year - either on their own, or through charities, friends or taxpayer-funded housing.

Many had been in the system for years.

"The numbers are trending in a way where we are now able to really analyze where our investments are actually moving folks along," said Gonzalez.

However, the report states nearly $20 million, the largest chuck of money, was used for emergency and shelter services. But, only six percent of people who use those services were able to find permanent housing.

"We're overly frustrated with how the council is spending its money. It's not very efficient," said Saul Spady, who is president of the group Cre8tive Empowerment and the grandson of Dick Spady, the founder of Dick's Drive Ins.

Dick's recently took a stand on the city's proposed head tax. Restaurant executives said giving directly to charity is more effective than the proposed head tax.

Spady believes the City Council needs to show better results.

"Maybe we are not going to trust you when you say, 'we need $75 million and we are the only ones going to spend it,' " said Spady.

Supporters claim the proposed head tax would bring in $75 million a year for the city.



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