Tag Archives: Homelessness

Seattle City Councilmember will introduce legislation to create new mental health and substance addiction first-responder program

Andrew Lewis, Seattle City Council, Dist. 7

Last week Seattle City Council member Andrew Lewis proposed legislation to create and fully fund a new mental health and substance addiction first-responder program. Andrew just assumed office this past January and has spent his career in the public sector.

About Andrew’s proposed legislation, from the City’s web site:

“Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis, Chair of the Council’s Select Committee on Homelessness Strategies and Investments, announced this morning he will introduce legislation to create and fully fund a new mental health and substance addiction first-responder program, based on a Eugene, Oregon program called Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets, or CAHOOTS.

CAHOOTS outreach teams are unarmed and composed of a medic and a mental health crisis worker. They are immediately dispatched by 911 to respond to people experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis and can offer counseling, conflict resolution, housing referrals, first aid, and immediate transportation to services.

“When a building is on fire we send the fire department. When someone has a stroke we send an ambulance. Why do we send armed police to help someone in a mental health or drug-related crisis? By the most conservative estimates one in every four people fatally shot by a police officer has a mental illness. This has to stop,” said Councilmember Lewis.

CAHOOTS has been in existence since 1989 and is operated by Eugene’s White Bird Clinic. On an annual basis, CAHOOTS responds to nearly 24,000 calls, representing almost 20 percent of all 911 calls. Out of all those calls, CAHOOTS workers only requested police assistance 150 times in 2019. More than 60 percent of CAHOOTS’ clients are experiencing homelessness. This successful program has saved Eugene on average $8.5 million a year in policing costs and $14 million a year in emergency medical response costs.

We cannot police our way out of poverty, racial inequity, homelessness and our mental health crisis. By diverting these types of calls to CAHOOTS, Seattle has the opportunity to save money and invest in a program that adequately responds to people’s essential needs,” Lewis said.”

CAHOOTs describes themselves as “critical assistance helping out on the streets.”

From the CAHOOTS web site: “We are a funny blend of idealism and realism. We are committed to being of service to the community and the clients we serve and we share a hope for a better world – we take pride in doing our part!”

Eugene Police with a homeless man

So how is CAHOOTS making Eugene (Lane County) a better place?

From October 2019: “Eugene has most homeless per capita in US”

From July 2018: For the last 30 years, Lane County’s suicide rate has exceeded the national average.

From July 2016: The Eugene area has one of the highest rates of excessive drinking in the state – 22%. Oregon as a whole has a rate of 19%. Lane County has a fatal overdose rate of 15 per 100,000 residents, resulting in 156 deaths in 2014. This ranks #12 in Oregon.

Homeless encampments in Eugene/KLCC photo

While democrats are rushing to #defundpolice, this CAHOOTS program is being pushed in the media as an effective model for prioritizing mental health over police.

While CAHOOTs may be saving the city money and de-escalating some situations, I question just how effective the program has been in “enabling people to gain control of their social, emotional, and physical well-being through direct service, education, and community.”

Saving taxpayer costs on emergency response calls may be beneficial yet how much better are the residents/taxpayers of Eugene when – overall and in the long run – homelessness, suicide and substance abuse statistics do not improve? I guess that depends upon your definition of “adequately respond” and “gain control.”


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Utopia will be achieved: Seattle awards $34M to 30 agencies to end homelessness

seattle homelessness

Tax dollars required to end homelessness…

In a previous post, I told you about Seattle’s serious homelessness problem. From my post:
“In 2016, the King County region saw an increase of 19% of our unsheltered population, the majority of those people residing in Seattle. In November of 2015, Mayor Murray declared a State of Emergency on Homelessness to bring light to this crisis and seek greater support from our state and federal partners. Mayor Murray has increased spending on homelessness intervention and prevention and the City of Seattle is now spending a record high of nearly $50 million dollars to address this crisis.”
The city hired a “Director of Homelessness” to ensure that the City’s increased efforts were well coordinated and driving toward the greatest outcomes for those in need. The new Director of Homelessness was tasked with executing the Mayor’s priorities on this issue. In August 2016, the city hired George Scarola to fill this position, who makes $137,500 per year.
In 2016, the Human Services Division invested $55 million in homelessness services. That large amount of tax-payer dollars didn’t solve the problem so $34 million more is needed.
From MyNorthwest.com: Calling it a fundamental shift in the City of Seattle’s approach to homelessness, Mayor Tim Burgess says the Human Services Department will fund 30 agencies to help move people into permanent housing. Those agencies plan to use the $34 million awarded to move more than twice as many people into housing next year than in 2017.
“By moving people from living on the street to permanent homes, we provide them a springboard to better opportunities and a more stable life,” said Mayor Tim Burgess. “We are focused on the only result that ends homelessness: housing. We are holding our providers accountable to that same result. I commend HSD for their focus on results and accountability for public dollars.”
The goal is to move more than 7,000 households into housing in 2018, including 739 families and 1,094 youth and young adults. (According to the HSD 2016 report, there was 6,128 exits to permanent housing throughout King County. Yet in 2017 there was another 7,000 homeless? That’s an awful lot of new homeless households in one year. The numbers just don’t make sense to me.)
The city says the awards fall into seven categories: Prevention, Diversion, Outreach and Engagement, Emergency Services, Transitional Housing, Rapid Re-Housing, and Permanent Supportive Housing.
The Human Services Department received 181 applications from 57 agencies, according to the city.
According to the city’s annual point-in-time count, 8,746 people are homeless in Seattle, and there are 3,857 unsheltered people.

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The $50 Lesson and Christmas Lights

I recently asked my neighbors’ little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, ‘If you were President, what would be the first thing you would do? ‘
She replied, ‘I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.’ Her parents beamed with pride.
‘Wow… what a worthy goal.’ I told her, ‘But you don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that! You can come over to my house and
mow the lawn, pull weeds and sweep my yard, and I’ll pay you $50. Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy
hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house.’
She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, ‘Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work and you can just pay him the $50?’
I said, ‘Welcome to the Republican Party.’

Her parents still aren’t speaking to me.

I love Christmas lights.
They remind me of the people who voted for Obama.
They all hang together; half of them don’t work, and
the ones that do, aren’t that bright.
~Steve~                H/T  Jean

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