West Seattle Blog… | 2021 ELECTION: Seattle mayoral candidates talk about roaming at noon forum, with another tonight


Seattle mayoral candidates – Lorena González and Bruce harrell – spent an hour this afternoon answering questions about homelessness and housing, and is expected to bring up the same topic at another event this evening.

We watched the noon forum, presented by the Resolution to end roaming. Its founder / chairman of the board Kyle bergquist moderate. The organization registered the event; the video is below, followed by our notes:

With the exception of what is in quotes, what you see below is our paraphrase or summary of what the candidates said. Both candidates had time to answer each question and then took turns for the rebuttal / elaboration.

In her opening remarks, González said she believed homelessness could be addressed by addressing its “root causes”, which she listed as poverty and income inequality. It was called “the progressive choice in this race”.

Harrell said he believed the causes also included “the underfunding of mental illness and drug and alcohol treatment.” He said he believed Seattle would “starve for the kind of leadership” he offered.

QUESTION: Many people frequently refer to ending homelessness. What does this mean to you and what paths are there to (end it)?

Harrell: “The responsibility ends with me – I have to present the plan,” and he would bring everyone together. He said the blame game was never his style. He thinks the city has the resources to spend what it needs. He will take a cabinet-level position to ensure that “we have all possible state and federal funds.” He promises an attack on “the regressive tax system that we have”. He is also committed to rallying the philanthropic community around the problem, to “embrace” it. He would give people “the treatment they need” and promise to clean up parks and open spaces.

Gonzalez: “For me, ending homelessness means we are creating real health and opportunity” for everyone. She also spoke of “creating the housing infrastructure that prevents people from entering housing instability in the first place” as well as providing “a safe place to heal and build stability for themselves and their good. -to be”. She spoke of the “record number of suffering people”, who are living without shelter, and that the government “must step up our response … really responsive to the crisis … on our streets”. She said “we need to recognize that housing… is the most sustainable way to end homelessness. She said “getting people in” is complex. She pledged “swift action in the first 100 days,” including shelter and shelter.

Harrell: “Housing… is good” but “housing someone is clearly short of the one thing we need to do”, so he creates an initiative to “make sure everyone has health care” and he is also creating a new “Seattle Job Center” department.

González: She reiterated that “getting to a safer place” is the first step for everyone, and then they can focus on “healing and recovery”. She also pledged to fight displacement and gentrification.

Harrell: He promised a “very deep dive” to “see why BIPOC communities” are affected in a disparate way.

QUESTION: Regarding funding – the state budget has increased by $ 19 billion over the past six years; homelessness in Puget Sound could be solved for less than $ 1.5 billion. What are your thoughts on funding?

Gonzalez: “There isn’t one source that is going to solve the entire problem”, but she believes that we currently do not have sufficient resources, which is why “we are seeing more people being pushed into homelessness” . The fundraising plan needs to leverage federal and state as well as local dollars, and the mayor would go to Olympia and push for whatever is possible. How to identify the city’s new resources? She and three board members sponsored the JumpStart Payroll Tax to help make more money. She wants to rely on the capital gains tax and revisit the issue of an income tax as well as “pass a wealth tax throughout the state”.

Harrell: “I haven’t heard anything from my opponent with whom I don’t agree”, but the reality is that they are already spending almost a billion dollars, public and private funds – “there will be no never enough money “. So “you have to take into account some business principles… and take an inventory…” He says that it is not possible to wait for a new source of income. “My approach not only depletes progressive sources of income,” but also taps into private funding.

Gonzalez: “This crisis does not give us the luxury of waiting for new, progressive sources of income.” She said companies are not paying enough. She promised to work “on day one” with “community leaders and the council” to “rebalance the tax code.”

Harrell: Again mentioned his “cabinet level position” intended to ensure that all funding is found.

Gonzalez: She said they’ve already checked the city’s spending on the homeless. “It’s about making sure the regional homelessness authority has the funding it needs” and she thinks that means finding more, especially in “suburban towns”.

QUESTION: Tens of thousands of tenants are lagging behind. Eventually the moratorium on evictions will end. What do you think of this potential roaming spike?

Harrell: “We will be as creative as possible” when working with landlords and tenants. He said that HALA a few years ago included tools to ensure people can stay in their homes.

Gonzalez: Large companies posted historic profits during the pandemic, while average tenants fell behind. “The answer here is to make sure that we are working at all levels of government to make sure that we allocate a significant amount of money to help tenants… and also (help) landlords.” But “strong tenant protection laws” are also vital. And “we are not out of the woods” in the pandemic, so she thinks it will be necessary in January to extend the moratorium on evictions again.

The moderator requested a follow-up – and the owners?

Harrell: He said he cares about this part of the “ecosystem” and thinks “emergency rental assistance” will help homeowners.

González: “The risk associated with tenants is quite different… it literally means losing your home,” while the landlord “has many more tools at their disposal” such as federal mortgage relief and “in most cases, owners will stay housed “. Thus, preventing tenants from becoming homeless “must be our main objective”.

Harrell: He says it’s important to recognize that if small landlords can’t pay the mortgage, they will be forced to sell – “many don’t have the cushions” to do something else, and that will therefore put tenants on the back burner. street too. .

QUESTION: The city’s current policy restricts the development of “collective housing” [microhousing with some shared areas such as kitchens] Would you like to remove the restrictions?

Gonzalez: “It’s really important to increase all types of housing choices across the city,” so the next mayor “really needs to recognize this need. , .. Let’s build a city that is not exclusive.

Harrell: Yes, it supports the “re-legalization” of collective housing (aka microhousing). It also supports the assessment of how to help people build more ADUs and DADUs, and streamline the residential design review “to encourage the type of building we want to see.”

Gonzalez: She mentions her concern that much of the city is limited to the development of single-family housing.

Questions from participants started here. First: regarding camping in public spaces, what is your position on sweeps and other visible homeless?

Harrell: He doesn’t like the term “sweep”. But “we’re going to get people out of parks and sidewalks and tents around playgrounds… it’s inhuman, we can’t be insensitive to it, we have to house them.” $ 116 million in contingency federal funds are expected to help. He’s going to set up a way for people to donate money and time. “We shouldn’t have to look at the human suffering of others. “

Gonzalez: “I do not support sweeps (or) forced eviction of people against their will.” On the one hand, it is a violation of their constitutional rights. “Moving people from one neighborhood to another like we did… is inefficient” and “increasing the accommodation options that people will accept” is the solution.

QUESTION: BIPOC individuals are disproportionately represented among homeless people, but BIPOC organizations are underfunded. How are you going to change this?

Gonzalez: Will work with community representatives to guide policy. It promises swift action to “quickly rehouse” people and “meet their behavioral health needs”. She says staying committed to “trauma informed” policies is vital.

Harrell: “The question (is) why” the BIPOC community is disproportionately affected. He believes that drugs “pouring into our communities” are a major problem, due to “the failure of the war on drugs”. And too many people “have lost the safety net that surrounded them.” He said he continues to “read all I can” on how to end homelessness.

QUESTION: It is difficult for people to be empathetic and compassionate when drugs and addiction are so prevalent in visible homelessness. What do you think ?

Harrell: “The job is getting harder” because of the decades of abuse that so many people have suffered, especially physical and emotional. He will “tap into everyone’s kindness” to solve this problem. And “we will also make the tough decisions.”

Gonzalez: “We have to face the realities of a shortage of behavioral health treatments,” including “addiction treatment.” She. believes that the next mayor can “plead for an increased level of investment”. But “what will not work is a law and order approach … (to) reproduce the war on drugs.” She would remain focused on approaches “to tackle the root causes and get people on the path” to treatment.

Both candidates mentioned several times along the way that they have plans for roaming on their websites. (González’s site is here; Harrell’s site is here.)

At the heart of their closing statements:

Gonzalez: “Trying to cope with the symptoms” without addressing the “root causes… will not be successful”.

Harrell: “In my approach, we are going to look at the whole culture of the city” so that “everyone feels safe”.

TONIGHT FORUM: The Seattle Times Co-sponsor Homeless Candidate Forums tonight and tomorrow night. Tonight at 7 p.m., they are the mayoral candidates. Go here to register.

AND AFTER: Ballots will be mailed in two weeks from today and voting begins as soon as you receive yours.

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