SEATTLE, Washington (August 18, 2021) – Green Party of Seattle endorses the House Our Neighbors [HON] Opposition Statement to Charter Amendment 29. HON is a coalition of advocates who are committed to ending the homelessness crisis in Seattle. The Green Party of Seattle is opposed to the ‘Sweeps’ of homeless encampments, which is a practice that Charter Amendment 29 would allow to continue; Green support for the HON opposition statement focused on that point.
Charter Amendment 29 as proposed by “Compassion Seattle”, a group of concerned business owners, commercial property investors and individuals, contains language around support for addressing ‘Behavioral Health’ issues and building new low-cost housing as if this is the primary cause of homelessness, but their ‘solutions’ do not reflect a true depth of understanding about the problem.
Green Party of Seattle [GPSEA] rejects City of Seattle Charter Amendment 29 on the grounds that it does not sufficiently address root causes of homelessness. We agree that ‘Behavioral Health’ services that address mental hygiene and addiction should be available to all, but this does not put people indoors or give them a safe place to sleep at night.
We recognize that concerned business owners, property investors, and individuals who fund the ‘Compassion Seattle’ charter amendment initiative are important economic stakeholders in Seattle and we empathize with their distress over encampments of homeless folx that take up residence in commercial areas. Obviously, it does not look pretty to tourists, and this is bad for their cash flow. However, this does not motivate compassion.
As an unfunded mandate that proposes 2,000 new low-income residences, it is a drop in the bottomless bucket of housing inequality that exists here in Seattle. What residents and tourists see as encampments on the street is only the tip of the iceberg here. The ‘Invisible Homeless’ have run out of economic capital to afford independent housing but still have enough ‘social capital’ to stay with friends and family in spare rooms, couches, basements, garages, and driveways.
We live in a city where most infrastructure-related workers with families cannot afford homes. This means that the majority of Teachers, Nurses, Union Labor, Utility Workers, and First Responders that work here are commuters. This will not make our city a more secure place during an Earthquake, for instance. We will not be able to ‘Program’ or ‘Sales Funnel’ ourselves out of the rubble.
GPSEA is in complete solidarity with this statement from HON:
“People are unhoused because our region has failed to build enough permanently affordable housing after decades of steady population growth. Compassion Seattle is focused on blaming addiction and mental illness for homelessness. We know that homelessness is a result of greater problems: stagnant wages, job loss, skyrocketing rent, high barriers to healthcare, housing and/or workforce discrimination, and a diminishing safety net. The solution is permanent low-cost housing and supportive services.”https://www.houseourneighbors.org/opposition-statement
Real-world solutions to Housing Security include Rent Control, Progressive Taxation, and Deeply Affordable Housing. Green Party of Seattle has opposed ‘Sweeps’ since 2017 when party membership was unanimous on that particular point.
Additionally, the practice of funding non-profits to distribute tents, sleeping bags, and blankets to people as ‘outreach’ services and then taking those things away from them during ‘Sweeps’ is wasteful and ludicrous. It is a dysfunctional cycle that perpetuates lack, insecurity, and further social trauma. Public access to safe restrooms, garbage disposal, running water, and sanitation during both a homelessness crisis and a Pandemic is how business owners could be much more helpful to our unhoused neighbors.
The Green Party of Seattle [GPSEA] is a growing group of Ecosocialists in the PNW. Greens are an Alternative Political Party, invested in a Regenerative future for Seattle and King County. Ecosocialism is a vision of a transformed society in harmony with nature, along with the development of regenerative practices that can attain it. It is directed toward alternatives to all socially and ecologically destructive systems, such as patriarchy, racism, homophobia, transphobia, wars for profit, the commodification of human beings, extractive capitalism, and the fossil-fuel-based economics of War and Wall Street.