Bruce Harrell Says He Loves the Data, but the Data Doesn’t Seem to Love Him Back



You like asking “tough” questions about data? Ok, show me data to support that eliminating zoning laws will magically create supply from developers for affordable housing. Y’all drank the koolaid that capitalism will fix capitalism. Nope, Seattle needs an infusion of billions of dollars from somewhere (Where? Who knows!) to build its own darn housing to house the poor. How naive to think the private sector will save us from ourselves. The entire country’s affordable housing supply is cratering because HUD stopped producing any meaningful volume of low income housing years ago AND REITs are buying up everything in sight. When the market’s broke, you make your own.


To be clear, I've advocated in this article for spending at least between a half billion and a billion a year in incremental public investment - that is, above and beyond the current amount - on affordable housing in King County. You are totally right - free zoning is nowhere near enough, and in any case, its primary value in terms of cost containment is at the middle and upper income level, which is why we also need the massive public investment I mentioned in the article. We just also know that restrictive zoning significantly exacerbates the problem at all links in the income chain, not to mention is a huge drive of climate problems, access to jobs barriers, infrastructural inefficiency, and livability challenges it creates.


@1 nailed it. No amount of upzoning will ever lead to affordable housing. You want affordable housing? Then you have to build it on the public's dime. If all you do is upzone, real estate developers will laugh at you all the way to the bank.


Lolololol! The stranger accusing someone of virtue signaling??!!!??? Lolololol!!!


Cheaping out on homeless is a priority for the business community. The homeless problem is turning plenty of regular people to embrace nasty themes like Seattle is Dying. That’s okay with the business community. Four years of Bruce Harrell will do almost nothing to reduce homelessness.


Even the venerable McKinsey can, does and has gotten it wrong. The assumptions matter as do the politics behind the engagement, quality of the partners and staff assigned. Who ordered the work. Was it pro bono and paid, and by who? Was it point in time or did it look at the unintended (or intended) consequences of such a spend on immigration.

Of late I have been to Denver, Mexico City, Kirkland, Bellevue and Edmonds among others. Hard to imagine that of these high priced or relatively poor spots that tents and park squats, graffiti, detritus and highway camps are sparser to none. We need an equal or stronger dose of limits, sweeps, and resweeps - rather than the current enabling and unconditional welcome to bring our numbers of street vagrants under control.

Many need to leave. Yesterday! And to be sure as other places tighten up the screws while we spend away, guess where homo-economicus a rational actor, will move to.


@6: The Seattle Chamber of Commerce paid McKinsey for the study. McKinsey concluded that the only possible solution was for huge amounts of public money to be spent on construction projects, specifically construction projects to be done by the exact same private businesses who form the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. (This perfect alignment of McKinsey's conclusions with the best long-term financial interests of the study's funders was a total coincidence, no doubt.)

Interestingly, Davis' own reporting clearly contradicts one of the largest assumptions in the study. McKinsey wrote, without any source citations of any kind,

'More than one civic source has attributed homelessness to addiction. Others cite mental health or a failure of “personal responsibility.” People point to alcohol abuse ... In fact, the majority are not addicts, and very few people cite substance abuse as a root cause of homelessness.'

Davis, however, clearly describes a population so deeply and chronically addicted, they won't even set foot inside a shelter unless they can take their drugs in(to) it: "They are too often sobriety-first, which is literally the opposite of housing first."

By denying the root of the problem to curry favor with their paymasters, McKinsey has done a great disservice to Seattle's efforts to address homelessness. Davis was completely correct when he described them as utterly lacking in morals.

@6: "...did it look at the unintended (or intended) consequences of such a spend on immigration."

The study completely fails even to consider the possibility of homeless persons moving to Seattle. The entire narrative states that rising rents drove homelessness, and any other possible explanation was pre-emptively hand-waved away:

" can be safely assumed that at least half of all ELI market-rate renters in King County experienced one or more episodes of homelessness last year—a staggering statistic for a prosperous region."

At least they admit their assumption obtained "staggering" results! That this "staggering" result did not cause them to go back and re-examine exactly that assumption really tells us everything we needed to know about the entire study. (Assuming the blatantly pay-for-play nature of the study somehow wasn't a baldly obvious reason already...)


Is this a political ad purchased by the Lorena campaign?


The old saying about Harrell is that if you wanted to know his position on an issue, find out who he last talked to. He spent 12 years on the city council where he distinguished himself as both lazy and inept.


Hmm this screed is what happens when Facebook is not available.


@8 The Stranger is a political ad purchased by the Lorena campaign. Fortunately, she pooled her money with Kshama and NTK so they can put out even more of this.


The first candidate with the balls to say that yes, we'll raise taxes to house Seattleites who become homeless but no, we will not roll out the welcome mat and pay for everyone else's problem gets my vote.

The influx of people camping in the parks for the last few months has been staggering. And I'm pretty sure that they were not evicted from their apartments in Seattle, because NO ONE has been evicted for the last year and a half. Unemployment is down, too, and it's pretty much safe to go back to work again, so there's really no arguing that they are unable to get jobs because of the pandemic. So they are likely not locals down on their luck.

Not assessing the itinerant hobo contribution to Seattle's homeless population is a huge omission by McKinsey. And I am tired of the homeless-industrial complex not giving straight answers about this either.


Its funny that its now progressive to let someone camp in a cold tent with no running water or toilets nearby forever and if someone dares ask you to move into a home its called a "sweep".


Wait ... FB is down?


@7 Thank you for the excellent comments on the "impartial" study.


Harrell is a multi millionaire that hangs out with bankers. He takes bribes from the corporate elite. He was a seat warmer for 12 years that did piss all for the homeless and his constituents.

Ordinary people in this city need positive change. Right now the elite in this city want to get rid of Sawant who is too friendly and active for the renters, workers and other downtrodden.
So a December (special) election has been set up by the bootlickers to recall her. AND They want Harrell desperately in as their trophy mayor.

Gonzales doesn't take corporate bribes and has positive plans for the unhoused. She, Oliver and Kennedy are answers to the rot that has so long has corrupted this city for the monied.


@13 “move into a home.” That’d be sweet if it weren’t so insincere.


Up zoning would likely not trickle down to low income housing, it might help moderate income housing for which there is much demand. The best part of this article was the link to the McKinsey report and perhaps you should have ended with that. Be careful what you link to.

"Why is a prosperous region filled with well-meaning, smart leaders still struggling to make homelessness a rare, brief, and one-time experience for its citizens? Because billions of dollars in spending and best efforts have been aimed at the symptoms of this problem and not at its root causes."

That sounds like an indictment of Gonzales and the city council.


Why on earth do we have to build tiny houses, apartments, etc. We can house them in tents with ancillary buildings for showers, meeting rooms and a kitchen with a mess hall.

Let's see ... they are already living in tents and golly our military folks live in tents have central mess halls, showers etc and do quite fine for months on end,...even during war time conditions. Imagine that.

The massive extra money could be used say on drug/alcohol treatment, work & jobs skills, behavioral treatment and we can locate the facilities far, far away outside the city where they can enjoy the clean air and be away from bad influences. .... or you can put them on a parking lot downtown or anywhere. After they make it through treatment, have work skills and a job placement....then you can work on more permanent housing. ... hell they might even be able to just rent an apartment on their own.

This concept of everybody has to have a house with full ammenities is just messed up. Get them treated, sorted, settled and them move them into transitional housing when they are ready to rejoin polite society. They have to earn the roof over their heads....nothing is free...


The Stranger, trying so hard to prop up its bad candidate González.


@22 It really looks that way doesn't it. They aren't even trying to mask it.


"Making cops sign a pledge is not a data-driven approach" wow ya really got him there.

How many times will this article be bumped up to the top of The Stranger before the election?

The Mariners have better odds of winning ten world series in a row than Stranger readers do of ever seeing an article like this written about Lorena Gonzalez or any left-wing candidate, even though their proposals are utterly ridiculous and completely ignorant of data.


@24: Having this stale and discredited hit piece still squatting atop the front page really says something, doesn't it? In all three public-opinion polls released since the primary election, Harrell has 40+% of the vote, including even in Gonzalez' fake push-poll (GQR research), which has them tied at 45%. Ignoring that 'poll,' Harrell has a solid lead of 7-15% and is "gaining momentum." (

So, we can reasonably expect this post to bounce around near the top of the home page until the Stranger feels desperate enough to publish an even nastier attack on Harrell.


In my fantasies, the Stranger review board will issue a humble retraction of their prior endorsement of NTK, based upon her stunning Twitter feed. This is not an abstraction and surely if Davison had tweets of similar vitriol uncovered, the progressives in this town would be all over it. Get with your readers and the community. The false narratives of victimhood are ringing false. We don't have to imagine what an abolitionist approach to prosecution of misdemeanors means. We are seeing it in real time. Harrell, Davison, Nelson, Wilson and Yes to Recall. I think we will see 4 of 5 (Wilson has an uphill climb).


@17: "Right now the elite in this city want to get rid of Sawant who is too friendly and active for the renters, workers and other downtrodden."

While I'd love to know what you meant by "active" (I'm guessing it will involve photo opportunities and loud, angry, blame-throwing speeches, not ever any actual work) I must note that I was both a renter and worker in Seattle for years before Sawant ran for office, but never thought of myself as "downtrodden." Being union-represented for much of that time, and having a good, local company owning the building at which I rented, I really had a great life.


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So is this article just permanently attached to The Stranger homepage at this point?

Why not just rename yourself "The Lorena"? Why even bother with the facade of being an "alt-weekly" if you're just going to permanently recycle old articles bashing Lorena's opponent as your headline?


You guys just don't get it. The corporate elites, the Seattle Times, and the Deep State are all in it against Lorena and Sawant. The Stranger is our only hope. We have to save he mole children!


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