Got an idea to help solve the homeless crisis in Seattle?
The city might pay to try it out. City council members listened to many proposals during a budget hearing on Thursday including one to allow housing the homeless on private property.
It’s that time of year when council members submit ideas, referred to as ‘green sheets’ to be considered in future budget deliberations. The ideas also come with potential funding sources. A large portion of Thursday’s meeting dealt the ideas related to Seattle’s homeless crisis.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien suggested setting aside $300,000 for a temporary housing pilot project that would provide grants to build temporary housing. O’Brien made a point that it’s time to provide for citizens who offer new ideas and approaches to get the homeless into housing quickly.
“People are frustrated. Some are frustrated focusing on garbage or criminal activity, but a lot of people say look, we understand this is a challenge. How can I help?" O’Brien said.
Programs such as the Block Project, Aspire/Close to Home, Pallet Shelter are offering new approaches to temporary shelters. The idea is to build temporary homes, including some on private property, and the city could help with the costs.
O’Brien says his idea is not totally flushed out but it would be a grant program where both the city and the idea’s developer would match funds.
“I really like the concept and certainly support it,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw who chairs the budget committee.
There was a proposal to increase funding for RV remediation from six RV encampment removals a month to seven. Councilmember Lisa Herbold said the current RV remediation team does an assessment of 45 locations a month but takes action only on six.
“They focus on the six locations where there are problems. That means there are locations that may not get addressed,” said Herbold.
The team evaluates an area and decides if the RVs have overextended their stay or pose a health and safety risk and should be removed.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant proposed holding over $1.3 million for a Community Health Engagement Location or CHEL, where illegal drug users can inject themselves under the supervision of a nurse. Money set aside for the controversial site was not used in 2018 because a location could not be found.
The city is moving forward with plans for a mobile site. Councilmember Rob Johnson proposed increasing the CHEL budget by $440,000 to pay for a mobile injection site.