Share story

Last month, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said she was pushing her colleagues to combat homelessness by adding millions of dollars more to the $35 million already identified for the issue in Mayor Ed Murray’s proposed 2015 and 2016 budget.

Bagshaw proposed dedicating the money to help nonprofits and faith institutions to shelter people.

Touting her plan as a “game-changer,” she initially suggested that the council add $5 million for 2015. She later set a goal of $500,000 right away and an additional $4.5 million halfway through the year.

That’s not what she got.

Instead, the council voted Friday to add $795,000 in 2015 and $420,000 in 2016, totaling $1.2 million, for a wide range of homeless services.

“I think this is a really good start,” Bagshaw said afterward. “It’s not as much as I wanted, but at the same time, it’s a down payment in the right direction.”

The allocations, which the council is scheduled to finalize Nov. 24, include:

• $100,000 each in 2015 and 2016 for contracts with nonprofit and faith institutions to help people living in transitional encampments, including people in tent cities and people living in vehicles.

• $120,000 each in 2015 and 2016 for a year-round women’s shelter with few barriers to admittance.

• $200,000 each in 2015 and 2016 for hygiene services for people without homes, such as services provided by Urban Rest Stop.

• $175,000 in 2015 to “incentivize regional partners” to develop homeless shelters;

• $200,000 to help carry out recommendations from Murray’s Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness.

Councilmember Sally Clark objected to the budget additions for people living in encampments and for the women’s shelter, saying the funds should be set aside until the task-force issues its recommendations next month.

But Bagshaw and several other council members said they would rather not wait.

Back when Bagshaw went public with her proposal, advocates praised the intent but expressed skepticism the council would come up with several million dollars. Real Change executive director Tim Harris said $500,000 would be a “short-term win.”

Bagshaw admitted Friday she was selling something she couldn’t deliver.

“I never for one minute really believed I was going to get $5 million on this first go,” she said. “But that’s the scope of the problem.”

The council also added $150,000 in 2015 for street outreach to homeless youth.

Murray will get the final say on the budget.

Daniel Beekman: 206-464-2164 or