“Thousands of people on our streets and sidewalks, parks, and school grounds need housing and support, and the people of this city demand action, not more excuses, underfunding, and delay.”
Seattle – Mayoral candidate Bruce Harrell today issued the following statement following release of the long awaited spending plan for $116 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the City of Seattle will receive in 2021.
Harrell had previously called upon the current Mayor and Council leadership to dedicate the majority of these funds – a minimum of $60 to $70 million – toward addressing homelessness. As announced today, only $37 million in flexible funds will be dedicated to the crisis.
Read Harrell’s statement below:
“Today’s announcement reflects the growing disconnect between City Hall and the people of Seattle. The homelessness crisis is the number one issue in our city – and must be a priority. Yet over the past two years, as the crisis on our sidewalks, parks, and school properties has reached a breaking point, we hear the same excuses – from ‘it’s not our responsibility’ to ‘we don’t have the resources.’
“In March, more than two months ago, President Biden signed legislation giving Seattle resources – nearly $232 million over 2 years. Now, two months later, we finally hear the city’s plan, and of the $116 million we are set to receive, only $37 million will be dedicated to the most urgent crisis we face.
“That is simply not enough.
“Two weeks ago, when discussion began on how to allocate these funds, I called for a majority to be dedicated to immediate housing and services. Instead of the $60 to $70 million this crisis deserves, leaving plenty for other priorities, we are falling short by $20 to $30 million in support for the thousands of people suffering on our streets. This is money we could use this year, and not have to wait for a Harrell administration to allocate the 2022 funds to finally bring scale and focus to this crisis.
“The plan unveiled today includes nearly $7.5 million for IT personnel support and reopening of city buildings. This is unacceptable. We could house 250 people for a year in hotel facilities costing $30,000/year for this money. The city should not be diverting precious resources for these purposes.
“Finally, the process to release these funds is too slow and too bureaucratic. There are community based organizations and providers who needed these funds yesterday. Now, with a process just underway, it will be months before even these limited resources are put to work helping vulnerable people.
“If I have the honor of serving as Mayor, the excuses, inaction, infighting, and lack of urgent action will end. We will back our words with action – and resources – to help people out of tents and into housing, with the support needed to restore lives. The humanitarian crisis on our streets is inexcusable in a city with the resources and innovative spirit of Seattle. I hope the Mayor and Council will rethink this peanut butter approach and dedicate the greatest share of ARPA money to the greatest challenge we face.”