Tag Archives: Seattle’s homelessness crisis

This is rich: Seattle socialist councilmember Kshama Sawant says we need to “fight for our rights”

kshama sawant

And she’s not speaking about the Second Amendment right. She’s speaking about the right to tax big businesses to solve the city’s homelessness crisis…

From MyNorthwest.com: The city’s latest attempt at a business head tax will not only solve the homelessness crisis, it will help the affordable housing problem, too, Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant argues.

“This is the most rational solution; for the city to build permanently affordable housing by taxing big business because that is where the money is,” Sawant told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “They are making enormous amounts of wealth on the backs of ordinary people, so it is time they pay back a tiny share of their huge profits.”

The city council is crafting legislation for an employee hours tax, or head tax. It comes on the heels of a special task force’s recommendation that the city implements the tax — among others — to raise $150 million annually.

“You can’t go to working people because working people are already overtaxed,” Sawant said. “You can’t go to small businesses because small businesses are already overburdened. Who has the money and who is not paying their fair share? It’s the biggest businesses of all, like Amazon.

“Not your corner coffee shop or corner grocery store,” she said. “And if we tax these biggest businesses to the tune of $150 million per year, we could build up to 750 affordable units every year and create good union jobs in the process. This would make a huge dent in skyrocketing rent and the homelessness crisis.”

City officials, however, are considering placing a tax on all Seattle businesses — including the small ones. The city task force recommends a “skin-in-the-game” tax for all Seattle businesses. Estate taxes, highly-paid CEO taxes, and real estate sale taxes are also among the recommendations.

More than 300 of the city’s small businesses — many of them restaurants — signed a letter urging the council to at least include them in the head tax process. The businesses asked that the city not place yet another tax on them, pointing to the skin-in-the-game proposal.

Will a head tax push out big businesses?

Sawant pushes back against the notion that Seattle’s large companies will simply skip town if they face more taxes. Amazon, for example, has already begun searching for a second headquarters in another city. It will place 50,000 new employees there instead of Seattle.

Local leaders also had a meeting to “hit the refresh button” on city relations with the retail shopping giant.

Sawant says that idea that companies will leave is an empty threat. She points to Boeing, which still moved operations out of state despite getting huge tax breaks from the state Legislature.

“We heard these kinds of threats and blackmail from big business,” Sawant said. “Even when we were fighting for $15 an hour. We have heard this blackmail from corporate landlords every time we’ve succeeded in winning a measure of renters rights.”

“The reality is that the reason Amazon and corporations like them are making profits is not because they are creating jobs,” she said. “It is because, in this system of capitalism, wealth is rewarded with more wealth. At the end of the day, the solution to this problem is to not cower in front of this economic blackmail and fight for our rights.”

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Get ready to empty your wallets, Seattle: Task force recommends new taxes to address homelessness

perfect enemy of good

The City of Seattle has already allocated over $37M to address homelessness and King County has budgeted over $195M for a grand total of over $232M. But it’s never enough.

From MyNorthwest.comA head tax on Seattle businesses may not be enough, according to a task force that is now recommending additional taxes on the city’s wealthy residents.

“We therefore believe that the City of Seattle should pass legislation this year to generate $150 million per year in new progressive revenue, including an Employee Hours Tax,” the task force states in its report to the council. “… wisely invested over the next 10 years, will result in significant and measurable progress toward ending the crisis of homelessness and housing insecurity in our city.”

The March 9 report from Seattle’s Progressive Revenue Task Force on Housing and Homelessness primarily proposes an employee hours tax — also referred to as a head tax. But it also proposes new taxes, including estate and CEO taxes.

(The first bulleted item in the report overview: “There is an urgent need for fiscal discipline.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.)

Additionally, the task force recommends the city change its approach to the homeless crises. For example, providing special RV tags allowing them to park without fear of being ticketed.

The task force notes that cuts could be made to some city spending, such as the criminal justice budget. But it concludes that new revenue is the main solution to the homelessness crisis. The task force states that “tax burdens should not be increased lightly,” and that the homeless crisis is caused, in part, by Seattle’s economic boom.

Employee hours tax: The task force recommends the city establish an employee hours tax to go into effect Jan. 1, 2019. It provides a range of options based on employer size and type. In the end, it aims to raise between $25 million to $75 million a year. The reports states: Employers that can afford to contribute more should pay more, while employers that cannot afford to contribute as much should pay less.

Noting that it may not be perfect, the report encourages the council to “not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Care should be taken not to disproportionately impact POC– and other minority-owned businesses and employers, or to speed the process of gentrification and displacement that are already transforming business districts as well as residential areas in many neighborhoods where communities of color have historically resided.

The city would tax employers either with a flat fee per employee or as a percentage of payroll. It also suggests the council design the tax to vary depending on business size. The report states that the council should design exceptions, such as businesses under a certain revenue threshold.

Other new taxes: The task force recommends additional taxes to raise beyond the $75 million employee hours tax. It admits that the amount it proposes won’t cover the entire housing need, but will be “a solid start” to solving the problem through affordable housing programs.

The city can leverage state and federal funding, but still Seattle must pitch in ~ $170,000 per unit. That means we need a total of $3.4 billion, or $340 million per year for 10 years. That $340 million annual need only covers capital costs, not ongoing operations. The task force therefore proposes a variety of additional tax strategies beyond an employee hours tax.

Read the rest of the story here (other proposed new taxes include a high compensation tax and local estate tax – as much as a 50 percent increase!).

DCG

You voted for this Seattle: Mayor Durkan emphasizes need for “shared prosperity”

jenny durkan

And by “shared prosperity” she means you gotta pay for the free stuff she’s promised others.

From Seattle Times: Telling an enthusiastic crowd she’s been nicknamed “the impatient mayor” at City Hall, Jenny Durkan vowed to attack Seattle’s homelessness and affordable-housing criseswith urgency as she delivered her first State of the City address Tuesday.

Thecity will be better off “when prosperity is shared, and is not just for the few,” Durkan said, arguing that disparities are threatening “the soul of our city.”

“We have a booming economy,” she said. “Yet far too many of us — our families, neighbors, artists, small businesses — are being forced out of the city that they love.”

In the speech at Rainier Beach High School, Durkan sketched out an optimistic vision of what she believes Seattle can be — while admitting that traffic and housing problems are today’s reality and will be difficult to solve. Also, the city’s economic growth is bound to slow.

“In preparing next year’s budget, I will be asking all the city’s departments to recognize we have to live within our city’s means,” she said, even as she previewed some new initiatives.

Durkan said her administration plans to build more low-income housing, provide free transit to all public high-school students by next fall and free community college to all public high-school graduates, work with the City Council on new rights for domestic workers and propose legislation to encourage the construction of greener buildings.

For the college program, Durkan wants to tap the city’s Families and Education Levy, which will be up for renewal on the ballot later this year.

She paid tribute to Rainier Beach students who have advocated for transit passes, and to Rainier Beach graduates from immigrant families who are thriving in college. “Rainier Beach is the place where people come together to get things done,” Durkan said, drawing applause at the South End school where graduation rates have climbed.

The mayor pledged to deliver basic services to Seattle residents “better and smarter” and several times touted a commitment to racial and social justice.

More excerpts from this article:

“She opened her remarks Tuesday by reminding the crowd that Seattle is named after Chief Sealth and that the city “resides in the Coast Salish territories.”

“We believe every person is born with dignity and promise, and they deserve real respect and real opportunity. A person’s value is not based on her net worth. Or the country of birth. Or the color of skin. Or the gender of the person they love,” she said.

Durkan added, “Seattle will stand up to be a safe and welcoming city — especially with Donald Trump as our president. Our immigrant and refugee neighbors believe in the promise of America — and we will deliver on that promise.”

She cautioned about harder times ahead, saying Seattle’s economic growth spur “won’t last forever and City Hall’s recent spending splurge “isn’t sustainable.”

“Unfortunately, a deficit is on the horizon,” she said, predicting some budget cuts.

Read the rest of the story here.

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As predicted: Seattle panel closing in on plan to fund homeless aid with “head tax”

government solve all problems

In January I told you how the City of Seattle, which has a major homelessness problem, created a 75-person task force to solve that problem. From my post:

“The mission of the task force remains fuzzy — with a stated goal of finding solutions to “root causes,” including a lack of affordable housing and gaps in the behavioral health, criminal justice and child welfare systems that jettison people directly into homelessness.”

The City of Seattle has already allocated over $37M to address homelessness and King County has budgeted over $195M for a grand total of over $232M. But it’s never enough.

As I stated in my January blog post, “The solution now? Form a large task force which, no doubt, will recommend more new taxes.”

And, of course, I was correct with my prediction.

From Seattle Times: A Seattle task force will start wrapping up its work Thursday, setting the stage for the City Council to pass a new tax on high-grossing businesses like Amazon.

Supporters and opponents agree the council will almost certainly greenlight some version of the so-called “head tax” next month and allocate the money to combat homelessness.

Exactly how much money the tax would raise, which businesses would pay it and how the dollars would be distributed are among the details still to be sorted out.

A version of the tax almost won approval last year, but the council narrowly voted for more process instead, punting the issue to a panel of citizens and experts.

That move put the idea on the political back burner, but not for long, because the council vowed to revisit it with recommendations from the community task force and adopt a head tax (also called an employee-hours tax) or something similar by March 26.

To keep the council on track, the task force must make significant progress at its penultimate meeting Thursday, said co-chair Tony To, the executive director of HomeSight, a South Seattle nonprofit.

Underlying the debate is the knowledge that rising property taxes are “really hurting” residents and that Seattle’s homelessness crisis is “worse than it’s ever been,” To said. “People don’t want to keep talking. They want to reach a conclusion,” To said.

The $25 million-per-year-proposal rejected in November — as the council finalized the city’s 2018 budget — would have taken 6.5 cents per employee, per hour, from companies grossing more than $10 million per year (about 5 percent of all businesses in Seattle).

Serving on the task force are people from various organizations — including nonprofits that build affordable housing — and walks of life, including people who have been homeless. Also taking part are Ian Eisenberg, owner of Uncle Ike’s pot shops; Tom Matthews, president of Walsh Construction; and Jesiah Wurtz, owner of Cafe Red.

Other businesses are sitting out the panel in protest. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which represents 2,200 companies, including heavy hitters like Amazon, declined an invitation because its members saw no point in serving on a panel wedded to an idea they oppose, said Markham McIntyre, chief of staff.

Though the council resolution that created the task force leaves room for the panel to explore other “progressive” revenue tools, it says the recommendations should include an evaluation of a head tax capable of raising $25 million to $75 million a year.

“This is a sham process,” McIntyre said in an interview. “They have a predetermined outcome.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Seattle has a solution to their homelessness crisis: A 75-person task force

government solve all problems

The city of Seattle has a major homelessness problem. It’s so bad that the former disgraced homosexual mayor, Ed Murray, declared a State of Emergency on November 2, 2015. From my blog post in April 2017:

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 has spent a lot of tax payer money to try and solve the problem. Here’s an example of what they’ve done to date:

Three years after the State of Emergency was declared and after all the hires and money spent, homelessness is still a major issue in the city.

The solution now? Form a large task force which, no doubt, will recommend more new taxes.

Jonathan Martin at the Seattle Times reports on the details of this new task force:

The number of people in King County who left homelessness for permanent housing has nearly doubled since 2012, but the overall tally of people who became homeless has risen more steeply — to nearly 30,000 in 2016.

That data, from King County, framed the launch on Monday of a sprawling new regional task force on homelessness to stop the descent of many into abject poverty. The 75-member group, called One Table, is the first evidence of regional collaboration between new Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine on the homelessness crisis.

The mission of the task force remains fuzzy — with a stated goal of finding solutions to “root causes,” including a lack of affordable housing and gaps in the behavioral health, criminal justice and child welfare systems that jettison people directly into homelessness.

At a news conference after the first meeting, Constantine said the task force was in response to a city property tax proposed, then withdrawn, last year by former Seattle Mayor Ed Murray for homeless services.

One Table, co-chaired by Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, includes leaders from a business community that has objected to a rising tax level. But Constantine suggested its recommendations could include new taxes for homelessness prevention.

“We’re spending a lot of money now on crisis response (to homelessness), but on the prevention side, on the root causes, there is clearly still a gap in the resources available,” he said.

Durkan sounded less enthusiastic. “We can’t reverse engineer this — it’s not the taxes first, and then do the services that fit the taxes,” she said. “Let’s find the solutions, then scope the resource to fill that gap.”

Read the rest of the details here.

DCG

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.

DCG

Seattle to open a new homeless shelter where drugs and alcohol are allowed

ed murray

I’ve written about the major homelessness problem that Seattle, and its homosexual mayor Ed Murray, have tried to address. The good mayor has tried to address this by:

Their latest solution to help homeless people change their circumstances? Open a $2.7 million dollar facility where one is permitted to use alcohol and drugs. I wouldn’t bet that inviting these abuses will be a successful path for homeless people.

From Seattle Times: After a siting controversy and months of delay, Seattle’s first enhanced 24-hour shelter for homeless people will open to clients Wednesday.

Inside the newly refurbished facility in the Little Saigon neighborhood are sleeping cots with blue cushions that couples can push together, offices where clients will receive supportive services, and a mess hall for meals.

Staffers at the Navigation Center will spend the next days making last-minute preparations for the opening, said Greg Jensen, a spokesman for the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC), which the city has contracted to operate the facility.

About 20 homeless people already have been referred to the center by city outreach workers, Jensen said. “We anticipate that we’ll be seeing clients almost immediately,” he said.

Mayor Ed Murray put the process to develop the center in motion via a June 2016 executive order, saying that creating a shelter with services beyond those offered at traditional facilities was key to the city’s strategy.

But its development was rough going. A plan to open the center by the end of 2016 was scuttled when the city was unable to find a suitable site.

In February, city officials reached an agreement with the Seattle Indian Commission to lease the Pearl Warren building. The move displaced Operation Nightwatch, a mats-on-the-floor-style emergency shelter for homeless men that was leasing space in the building, and stirred up protest among residents of the surrounding community.

Advocates with neighborhood group Friends of Little Saigon continue to push back against the city, saying that the decision to site the center on the edge of the city’s Chinatown International District was reached without hearing views from local residents.

“There are many in the community who still don’t want it, but we know it’s going to open anyway,” said Quynh Pham, spokeswoman for Friends of Little Saigon. “At this point, we just want to have the city address concerns about this model and how the center will be run.”

City officials are betting that the center, with restrictions on entry eased and intensive services available, will become an asset for moving people indoors and out of conditions that are unsanitary and sometimes unsafe. People living in unauthorized tent encampments will initially be given top priority, officials said.

”It will allow us to reach those who are in the community of homeless people who have not been getting robust services,” said DESC director Dan Malone.

Modeled after a similar shelter in San Francisco’s Mission District, the center features laundry and storage facilities, showers and enough dormitory space to provide beds to about 75 people.

Unlike more restrictive shelters, clients will be able to store their belongings, bring along their pets and partners, and come and go when they like. While discouraged, drug and alcohol use inside the facility will be allowed unless it disturbs other clients or the surrounding community.

Once there, people who might have been unwilling or unable to take advantage of other shelter options will be pointed toward mental-health, addiction and housing services based on their needs, officials said.

How successful the center might be in moving people into permanent housing remains an open question. Similar shelters in San Francisco, which is experiencing its own crisis over affordable housing and visible homelessness, may serve as a rough guide.

Read the rest of the article here.

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