Compassion Seattle

Jul 27, 2021
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Written by Washington Retail
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The Compassion Seattle campaign has finished collecting signatures to place the charter amendment on the November ballot. The campaign turned in over 66,000 signatures, more than double the number required.

The burgeoning homelessness crisis in Seattle has led to widespread frustration with the City’s response. The proposed charter amendment would “require the city to take specific, measurable actions that prioritize mental health and substance use disorder treatment support services, combined with housing to provide long-term solutions for those who are experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.”

This campaign has uncommon broad-based support, the result of careful negotiations in the creation of the charter amendment. Backers of Compassion Seattle include leaders from the following organizations:

  • Plymouth Housing
  • Seattle Chamber
  • Public Defenders Association
  • Downtown Seattle Association
  • Chief Seattle Club
  • United Way of King County
  • FareStart
  • Evergreen Treatment Services

As detailed on the Compassion Seattle website, the charter amendment provisions would include:

  • Requiring the city, in conjunction with King County, to deploy a behavioral health rapid-response capability as an alternative, where appropriate, to law-enforcement crisis response.
  • Requiring the city to provide an additional 2,000 units of emergency or permanent housing within one year of the charter amendment being adopted by Seattle voters.
  • Prioritizing factors known to drive the overrepresentation of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color experiencing homelessness.
  • Proposing a coordinated plan to move people experiencing homelessness into emergency and permanent housing, instead of living in encampments, including enhanced shelters, tiny houses, hotel-motel rooms, and other forms of non-congregate emergency or permanent housing.
  • Directing the city government to accelerate the production of emergency and permanent housing by waiving building permit fees, treating housing permit applications as “first-in-line” for expedited treatment, and refunding to the payee the city’s portion of the sales tax paid for these facilities (as long as the declared civil emergency related to homelessness is in effect).

Dedicating annual funding equal to at least 12% of the City of Seattle’s General Fund budget to help achieve the plan and provide other human services. If this 12% allocation were in effect this year, it would have raised human services funding to nearly $193 million, approximately $18 million higher than currently budgeted.