An impressive group of homeless advocates—including Tim Harris, Executive Director of Real Change, Bill Hobson, ED of Downtown Emergency Service Center, and Tom Tierney, ED of Seattle Housing Authority—will be tackling how to end Seattle's homeless problem (we've pledged to exterminate homelessness by 2015, remember?) for the mayor's office. As I've mentioned, the review panel will be looking into the feasibility of establishing a semi-permanent homeless encampment on city property. To head of public hysteria, the mayor's office cautiously notes that "Such an outcome would require a third party to be contracted to manage the encampment and meet specific criteria around use of the space and services provided, as established by the city." Specific criteria might include neighborhood notification, background checks, and referral services to move people into permanent residences.

The panel will also tackle questions like how could Seattle support a range of low-cost housing options, (such as single room units); What social services are the most vital for Seattle's homeless population and how can they be expanded; and what other services could support homeless people while complementing the existing services they use?

"The panel will work towards getting recommendations to the mayor sometime in early fall," says Aaron Pickus, spokesman for the mayor, but adds that a firm deadline has not been set.

Joining Harris, Hobson, and Tierney on the review panel are Paul Carlson, Regional Coordinator for the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, Vince Matulionis from United Way of King County, Sheila Sebron from the Committee to End Homelessness, Michael Ramos, ED of Church Council, Bill Hallerman Director of Catholic Community Services, and UW Assistant Professor of Global Health Dr. Amy Hagopian.