SEATTLE – Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) issued the following statement following the Full Council vote in support of Resolution 31782, which was co-sponsored by Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6, Northwest Seattle). The resolution is intended to establish a process to identify new and ongoing progressive revenues, including an Employee Hours Tax, with the goal of investing such revenues to assist people who are currently experiencing homeless or who are at a high risk of entering homelessness:
“In November of 2015, the Mayor of Seattle declared a civil emergency in response to Seattle’s homelessness crisis. Two years later, the number of individuals currently experiencing homelessness has grown to 40% more than when the civil emergency was announced. While I’m thankful for the many steps taken by City Departments and nonprofit providers working to support people experiencing homelessness, it has become clear the City needs to take bold actions to identify new, progressive and ongoing revenue streams to address this crisis.
“To adequately address the factors contributing to homelessness in our City, including unprecedented growth, we need sustainable, ongoing and dedicated resources – not temporary, unsustainable cuts to other core services and city priorities like parks and infrastructure – to help mitigate the emergency that we all are experiencing. Acknowledging our need to do more, this resolution makes our focus clear to the residents of Seattle: ‘It’s time we house our unsheltered neighbors with the sense of urgency and seriousness this civil emergency merits.’
“Resolution 31782 directs this Council, in collaboration with Mayor-elect Durkan’s administration, to identify individuals to serve as members on an ad-hoc task force representing housing, health care, service providers, civic and labor leaders, business and community, no later than December 11 of this year. The Council’s adoption of Resolution 31728 also requires the Council to set up an inclusive and collaborative process that will comprehensively identify progressive revenue sources, including a new tax on high-earning businesses, that helps the City meet the housing and service needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness as a result of growth. Like all of the recent taxes imposed by the Council, the process established in this Resolution creates a serious and thoughtful process prior to imposing and implementing a new tax.
“The charge of the task force is two-fold: first, to explore potential new progressive revenue sources, including an Employee Hours Tax (EHT); and second, to identify investments to be paid for using those progressive revenue sources that would assist people who are experiencing homelessness or are at a high risk of becoming homeless due to their inability to obtain or retain stable affordable housing.
“The Council’s support for this resolution should serve as a signal to the many sectors of our society that we must work together on this issue and ensure that there are sufficient resources available to ensure homelessness in the City of Seattle is rare, brief and a one-time experience.”
Brianna Thomas, Councilmember González’ Office, 206-684-8802
Dana Robinson Slote, Council Communications, 206-615-0061