5 Picks for City Council

By United Way of King County, on October 24, 2019 | In News

Want to End Homelessness? Vote!           

Hey Seattle. Election Day is just around the corner and a recent Crosscut/Elway Poll showed that homelessness is voters’ number one issue. We completely agree. With 7 of 9 Seattle City Council seats up for grabs, we have an opportunity to elect a council that will act with urgency to address homelessness and demand a greater level of accountability to meet the housing needs

We all know that homelessness remains a crisis in our region. Too many people are dying or languish on our streets because they don’t have access to shelter, housing, and basic necessities.  It is easy to point fingers and blame others, but this is our collective failure.

The good news is that we know what works. At United Way, we invest in effective programs that connect people to housing and income. Last year our Streets To Home program housed 2,272 people housed. 76% of those served were households of color. Our Jobs Connect program connected people experiencing homelessness to over 1,500 jobs. We also launched a new eviction prevention program in partnership with Seattle Mariners called Home Base that has helped thousands remain in their homes. Your dollars are working. But we can’t do it alone. 

Philanthropy can test, pilot and scale programs that address homelessness. But solving the crisis will require us to elect leaders who will act with urgency to address the crisis at the scale of the problem.  As you pull out your ballots we encourage you to take a look at the 2019 Seattle City Council Housing and Homelessness Voters Guide and the Housing Voter Forum we recently participated in.

Here are 5 things we are looking for in City Council Candidates:

  1. Support for the Regional Authority on Homelessness. Homelessness is a regional problem and requires a coordinated regional response. Consolidating spending, strategy, and decision making should make the response faster, more accountable, and more effective. Move this work forward but don’t stop there.
  2. Candidates who understand that criminalizing homelessness and poverty is ineffective, costly and inhumane. Housing ends homelessness – jail doesn’t.
  3. Commitment to addressing racism. People of color are overrepresented among the homeless population because many of the systems that cause people to become homeless (financial, welfare, justice, housing, employment) are racist. And new research shows that the tools we are using to get people out of homelessness favor white people over people of color. We need to fix this.
  4. Champions for more revenue to address homelessness. 30,000 people will experience homelessness this year in King County alone. No one wants to hear that we need to spend more money on homelessness – but the fact is we do.  Our crisis response system is overwhelmed. We simply don’t have enough shelter, affordable housing, rental subsidies, employment resources, or behavioral health services.  We need to elect candidates who will be honest about the scale of the problem and the response that is needed.
  5. Think beyond Seattle. Ending homelessness will require us to reform our regressive tax code in Washington State and build a movement to invest in housing solutions at a national level. While City Council members won’t make those decisions, they can and should educate constituents, build coalitions, and engage local business and community leaders.

Let’s get out the vote Seattle.


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