Seattle leaders declare homeless emergency

SEATTLE — Seattle’s mayor, council members and the King County Executive signed proclamations on Monday declaring the city’s growing homelessness an emergency situation.

A continuing increase in the numbers of homeless and deaths of homeless people in spite of expanded services prompted the action, officials said.

Mayor Ed Murray and the Seattle City Council outlined a $5.3 million package to address the demands for services, about $900,000 of which is slated for 100 added shelter beds. The plan also includes a mobile mental health van, the reported.

Murray said the city is prepared to do more but that federal and state partners also need to step up. He said homelessness should be a national priority with a federal response and cited a decline in federal housing support and slim state budgets for mental health and substance abuse treatments as factors that have increased the burden on local governments.

Constantine has proposed $2 million in investments, some of which are before the King County Council, that would address immediate human needs and target the root causes of homelessness.

The state reports that 35,000 people in King County become homeless at some point during the year.

Councilmember John Okamoto said emergency shelters are needed but new investments in prevention will help reduce the long-term problem of homelessness.

Officials said the City of Seattle already invests more than $40 million a year to assist people at-risk of or experiencing homelessness. King County puts $36 million a year toward homeless services.

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