- Mayor Murray looks you in the eye, Council Member Harrell looks wistful, and a seal looks like it's made of wood.
Mayor Ed Murray proposed $3.3 million for new cops, $2.75 million for human services, and $1.5 million for homeless services in a press conference at City Hall this afternoon. A breakdown of those figures is below, but the numbers on homeless services sidestep a basic math problem.
Murray proudly boasted that his plan to transfer users of longterm shelter into housing would free up "3,375 shelter bed nights." But that only translates to nine beds freed up year-round. That's a nice gesture, yet it's a nearly inconsequential number compared to the 2,303 people living on Seattle streets, who Murray's administration keeps chasing out of tents.
Asked twice where those people should go, Mayor Murray ducked the question.
"I am wiling to engage in longterm discussions about homelessness," Murray said, adding, "We don't have resources to take care of people who sleep on our streets."
This an unhelpful non-position.
Murray may not have resources to care for all these people, but nobody really expects him to. Homeless people just want to know where they can go to take care of themselves without being harassed. If Murray doesn't have money to help them—which, again, is understandable—he shouldn't be using his limited money to escalate a cat-and-mouse game that chases these people into increasingly dangerous camping spots.
This is a complicated problem of harm reduction and none of the situations look beautiful (consolidated camps and scattered homeless both have their own set of problems). But the Murray administration needs a clear policy or practice, hopefully one that lets people know where they can sleep, safely, and minimizes the ramifications on nearby communities.
Original post from 11:30 a.m. and details of Murray's budget proposal below.
Mayor Ed Murray will hold a noon press conference today in which he will announce certain details of his 2015 budget proposal, such as hiring more police officers and a plan to move some homeless people out of shelters and into housing, according to a City Hall source who provided information to The Stranger but asked to not be named.
Murray will also announce plans to hire a civilian chief information officer who will manage crime data, according to the city hall source. A federally appointed monitor reported major shortcomings of police reform in term of data tracking earlier this year. The civilian appointee will also reportedly oversee the Neighborhood Safety Plans, which I expressed concerns about last week.
Murray will propose funding additional homeless services.
By way of context, yesterday I posted about a man, who police believe is homeless, that recently fell from an unauthorized homeless encampment, dying from his injuries. Since taking office, Mayor Murray has sharply stepped up sweeps of unauthorized homeless encampments, which critics say displaces homeless into dangerous camping spots, yet Murray opposes permitting authorized encampments with safeguard to protect campers.
Murray in his address today plans to announce $200,000 for the homeless service provider Urban Rest Stop, as well as a rapid re-housing program, the source explains. Murray will propose funding allocations for these investments, which would require the Seattle City Council's approval later this year.
The key questions for Murray on homeless services: Will these funds make more than the slightest dent in the outdoor homeless population? The One Night Count held this January found 2,303 people living on Seattle streets—a figure considered to be a low-ball compared to the actual number—that shelters and housing project have been unable to accommodate. If the outdoor population continues to be so large, does Murray has a substantial plan to create safer conditions for those living outside who still won't be able can't get into housing or shelters?
Murray announces $3.3 million for new officers and $2.75 million for
human services, including $1.5 million for more homelessness services
SEATTLE (Sept. 12, 2014) - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that his 2015-16 budget to be formally proposed on Sept. 22 will make new investments in public safety and the safety net, and today provided detail for his plans to fund best practices both in the police department and in homelessness services.
“This administration will use the budget process to drive more transparency and innovation in City government, as well as better organization and performance,” said Murray. “Public safety is our number one priority, and my budget for the police department reflects these basic budgeting principles by investing in best management practices, better use of data and more effective use of resources to get better outcomes.”
Murray’s 2015-16 budget for the Seattle Police Department will propose funding more civilian expertise, including a civilian Chief Operating Officer and a civilian Chief Information Officer for improved operations and systems management and innovation. The COO has been hired, and has already implemented CompStat, the crime and disorder data tracking and analysis method made famous by Commissioner William Bratton in New York City in the 1990s, where it was credited with reducing crime by 60 percent.
“CompStat will take the police department to the next level in observing, mapping and tracking patterns of crime and disorder, and in mobilizing, analyzing and evaluating officer response,” said Murray. “It is a major reform that I believe is the key to our future success in crime prevention, in efficient and effective deployment of SPD resources, and in police accountability.”
CompStat will be used in conjunction with the “micro-policing plans” that Chief Kathy O’Toole will deliver and make publicly available by the end of 2014, Murray said. The plans will reflect the specific needs and circumstances of each of the unique neighborhoods of the city, and are intended to reconnect officers with the communities they serve. CompStat will provide timely and accurate data to inform an ever-evolving patrol strategy, focusing resources on areas of concern and ensuring that police are present and visible where needed most.
Murray said O’Toole is also conducting a resource allocation study of position assignments within the department, and will seek to reassign officers from lower priority work to the high-priority work of patrol wherever possible. Additionally, Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $3.3 million to fill every recruit class available to the City of Seattle at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center in both 2015 and 2016.
“I pledged during the campaign that we would add one hundred fully trained officers by the end of my four-year term, and my budget proposal puts us on a stable path to get there,” said Murray. “By the end of 2015, based on current forecasts for attrition, we will be halfway toward my goal of one hundred additional officers, and my next two-year budget will plan to close the remaining gap. By the end of 2016, my budget will fund the highest number of fully trained officers in SPD’s history.”
Murray said his 2015-16 budget proposal will fully fund compliance with the federal court order.
Murray also announced plans in his 2015-16 budget to add $2.75 million in new investments in human services. He said his proposal will leverage new resources for homelessness services in particular, including expanding the best-practice strategy of rapid rehousing, and creating capacity at homeless shelters by moving long-term stayers into permanent housing – a suite of new investments in homelessness services totaling $1.5 million annually in 2015 and 2016.
“Investments in rapid rehousing are more successful and less costly than any other strategy for assisting unsheltered individuals,” said Murray. “I signed onto the First Lady’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by 2015, and my budget proposal includes funding for a rapid rehousing program targeted at veterans that will help us achieve this important goal.”
Murray’s 2015-16 budget will propose $600,000 annually to fund a program for 150 homeless single adults, targeting veterans, to receive rapid placement into housing, rental assistance, and employment support. Murray’s budget proposal will also fund efforts to move 25 of the longest-term stayers at homeless shelters into permanent housing, which will free up 3,375 shelter bed nights.
“There are more than 2,300 individuals living unsheltered in Seattle on any given night, and emergency shelters are at capacity, said Murray, who said his budget proposal commits $410,000 annually to provide subsidies for rental assistance, congregate housing or shared housing for long-term stayers, and leverages funding from the United Way of King County in a dollar-for-dollar match. “Shelters are meant to serve a temporary need, but a number of individuals are staying in shelters long term, to where one quarter of shelter users consume three quarters of shelter bed nights. Moving long-term stayers into permanent housing will help those individuals and increase shelter bed capacity for those currently without shelter.”
Additional human service investments in Murray’s 2015-16 budget include:
· A one-time matching contribution toward the capital redevelopment of the North Public Health Center located near North Seattle Community College ($500,000),
· Mitigating proposed budget cuts at Seattle/King County Public Health ($400,000), including:
o Supporting maternity services; women, infant and children services; and family planning services at Greenbridge Public Health Center ($150,000)
o Access and outreach services for new enrollments in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act,
o Family planning health educators ($50,000),
o HIV/STD education and outreach ($50,000),
o Gun violence prevention ($50,000)
· Funding for an additional 40,000 to 100,000 lbs. of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, or other proteins for more than 40 participating food banks, meal programs, and other providers ($100,000),
· Support for the Breakfast Group Mentoring Program, a program providing young men of color in Seattle Public Schools with wrap-around services, individualized instruction plans and mentoring to complete their secondary education and access higher education or employment opportunities ($100,000),
· Support for the Rainier Valley Corp to recruit emerging leaders from diverse immigrant communities and provide training, support and mentorship ($75,000), and
· Funding to fill a gap in senior center services in Lake City ($70,000).