“A city with our resources and capacity should not pass the buck to the school district or neighborhood – as Mayor I will devote the resources needed, and be a partner to our schools, educators, parents and students.”
SEATTLE – Candidate for Mayor Bruce Harrell today called for the City of Seattle to step up and assist the Broadview-Thomson K-8 School community to address a longstanding encampment on school grounds that has become a flashpoint in Seattle’s homelessness crisis.
Speaking near the elementary school, Harrell met with encampment and neighborhood residents, took questions from press, and issued the following prepared statement:
“Months of finger pointing and failure to act is harming kids and teachers trying to reopen and re-engage after a year of disrupted learning – and the individuals living unsheltered on this property. It’s become a symbol of Seattle’s inability to articulate a clear strategy and approach to this crisis.
If I am elected Mayor, the indecision and excuses will end.
It is both inappropriate and inhumane for the City of Seattle to expect a school district working overtime to educate and support 54,000 students to hire, train, and bring to scale a homelessness outreach and services program. Providing housing and support for vulnerable people is the job of the city and county, working together to provide immediate housing, wraparound services, and the support needed to rebuild lives.
Last week I called for the City to dedicate the majority of Federal ARPA relief funds to this exact effort – with a priority of addressing encampments in sensitive and incompatible areas – like school properties, parks, playfields and sidewalks. Instead, we saw a peanut butter allocation of funds that will only result in further delays in buying and building housing, and hiring the service providers needed to make real progress.
Here is what a Harrell administration will do:
Develop and implement a clear, transparent plan that will document and track our progress – building trust and understanding in our approach and timelines;
Front load existing federal, state and local resources to secure emergency housing and services;
Prioritize assistance into housing for those camped in dispersed areas, adjacent to schools and parks, and other sensitive locations;
Establish clear partnerships and responsibilities with jurisdictional partners like Seattle Public Schools, Washington State Department of Transportation, and the federal government.
As a graduate of Seattle Public Schools and father of an SPS graduate, I am committed to supporting our public school parents, teachers, and of course our kids. We do this by building programs and advancing policies in our city that are welcoming and supportive of kids and families. We do this by listening to the concerns of parents and families and taking action as a Mayor and city government.
Broadview-Thomson is among the most diverse schools in our city – with nearly 25% Black students, and almost three quarters non-white. When we talk about providing equity and opportunity for every child, we need to put our money where our mouths are – just as we must on homelessness. We should not ask Seattle Public Schools to divert limited educational resources from our diverse school communities to do the city’s job.
I also firmly believe that a humane, progressive city does not simply shrug its shoulders and accept that people should live without heat, running water, and proper sanitation. We cannot allow people displaced by poverty and harm, or those struggling with mental health and addiction, to suffer in our parks and streets. We must do better, and if elected Mayor, I will do better.