When looking at Seattle’s homelessness crisis – including the spread of unauthorized encampments throughout the city – Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he had until recently banked on getting federal help.
That changed with the Republican wins in November, including the election of President Donald Trump. In his “State of the City” address this week, Murray proposed Seattle step up to pour more money into homeless services through a five-year, $275 million property tax levy.
Murray sat down this week with Seattle Times political reporters Dan Beekman and Jim Brunner to defend his plan, arguing it’s not his first choice, but the city’s only good option.
“Seattle can’t wait,” Murray says in the podcast interview. “When I go into these unauthorized encampments, the level of tragedy that you come across, the people that you meet, the situation is not going to get better for them and its not going to get better for the city.”
Beekman and Brunner quiz the mayor on what the money will be used for – and whether voters can trust it will make a dent in the crisis, given the city’s already high level of spending on homeless services.
In an extended back-and-forth, Murray responds that he’s already implementing reforms, including putting homeless-services contracts out to bid for the first time in over a decade.
If you thought that was all — wait, there’s much more in this jam-packed interview.
Murray also defends a proposed tax on soda pop and other sugary beverages, talks up the big University District upzone that passed the City Council this week, and very pointedly responds to criticism from Seattle’s Socialist Alternative City Councilmember Kshama Sawant over Seattle’s response to the Trump administration.
And he explains his view on how many tax increases are justified in Seattle, given its affordability issues — and whether the city is interested in imposing an income tax.
Also: this week’s winners and losers in local politics, featuring Rep. Dave Reichert and Seattle urbanists.
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