The Compassion Seattle Charter Amendment (CA 29) panel discussion hosted by Belltown United June 24 was enlightening. Panelists Lisa Daugaard, executive director of the Public Defender Association, and Jon Scholes, president and CEO, Downtown Seattle Association, are authors and proponents of the measure, while Tiffani McCoy, advocacy director for Real Change, and Mark Sidran, former Seattle city attorney, expressed concerns. All four appeared to agree on the necessity of non-congregate shelter and comprehensive services for people living outdoors in public places; the number of people who need shelter is significantly greater than CA 29’s shelter mandate; permanent housing, not emergency and/or temporary shelter, is ultimately required; CA 29 lacks a funding mechanism and mandate to make all the required shelter, let alone 2,000 units of emergency and/or temporary shelter, a reality.

The language of CA 29 is prescriptive yet intentionally vague to the point that different parties believe it both mandates encampment sweeps and also makes sweeps impossible without providing non-congregate shelter for every person living outdoors. Even the amendment’s authors cannot guarantee how the language will be interpreted.

The people of Seattle must ask: Are you willing to roll the dice to solve the crisis on our streets?

Steve Horvath, Seattle