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Compassion Seattle: Is this the path to solving homelessness? Tech, biz, politics leaders speak out

Tim Burgess (backside left), Rachel Smith (prime proper), Kieran Snyder (backside proper) and host Mike Lewis of GeekWire

That Seattle has a homelessness disaster isn’t in dispute; methods to remedy it’s. 

Stepping proper into the center of the fray is Compassion Seattle, an initiative that seeks to rewrite the town constitution with a roadmap that mandates particular obligations for native authorities together with a requirement for the town to maintain parks, playgrounds, sports activities fields, and public areas away from encampments as soon as housing, drug, and psychological well being providers are in place.

The plan, which backers say is polling nicely, is just not with out detractors. We talked by the initiative within the newest version of GeekWire’s Civic Conversations, introduced by Microsoft. We have been joined by: 

  • Tim Burgess, Former Metropolis Council President and Former Interim Mayor of Seattle who helped craft the Compassion Seattle plan.
  • Rachel Smith, President and CEO on the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
  • Kieran Snyder, Co-founder and CEO at Textio, and 2021 GeekWire Awards winner for CEO of the Yr.

Through the dialog, Burgess characterised the measure as a “compassionate, outcome-based plan of motion.” 

“Primarily (for) these dwelling unsheltered in our parks, playfields, sidewalks throughout the town,” he stated. 

“We will all agree that what’s occurring in Seattle proper now isn’t working,” Burgess stated.

If it qualifies for the poll and is accredited by Seattle voters, the modification primarily bypasses the Metropolis Council and, for the primary time, provides particular benchmarks and obligations to Seattle’s generally complicated, competing, and decentralized array of homeless providers and applications.

Associated: Are tech employees coming back to downtown Seattle? Here’s what companies are planning for


For example, under the proposed changes, the city would be legally required to provide an additional 2,000 units of emergency and permanent housing within one year of the amendment’s January 2022 start date.

It also mandates that Seattle offer access to behavioral health programs along with housing. Housing, under the charter amendment, could include “enhanced shelters, tiny houses, hotel-motel rooms, other forms of non-congregate emergency or permanent housing.”

A flyer in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood encourages citizens not to sign a new initiative called Compassion Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Snyder said as a business owner who had most of her staff in downtown Seattle prior to the pandemic, the part of the initiative that she finds compelling is the expansion of services that don’t involve law enforcement.

“The notion of investing in housing and support services that are independent of law enforcement, that’s the thing that makes [Compassion Seattle] a promising set of solutions,” she said. 

Snyder said local businesses should also find a way to help pay for additional housing and services.

But critics of the measure have asserted that the initiative is simply an attempt to promote the sweep of homeless camps and to criminalize homelessness. Smith countered that the initiative requires the city to provide services and shelter first. And only then can the camps be closed, she added.

“It sets really clear conditions under which encampments should be closed,” she said. “At the same time, there is no right for someone to stay in a public place permanently.  

Watch the entire conversation here. That is second within the sequence of Civic Conversations, introduced by Microsoft. Civic Conversations: Tackling Public Coverage Challenges Throughout a COVID Economic system, the primary panel, featured: Gordon McHenry Jr., CEO of United Approach King County; Chris Gregoire, CEO of Problem Seattle and former Washington state governor; and Kris Hermanns, chief affect officer at Seattle Basis.

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