Seattle and San Francisco Mayors Talk Homelessness at Seattle University
On January 11, 2017, Seattle University welcomed San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray to discuss the issue of homelessness on the west coast. Both Seattle and San Francisco have been beset by a severe homeless crisis and the mayors hoped that, by coming together, they could share their plans to help keep people off the streets.
“A lot of failed systems end up on our street, so I think it’s important to talk about how we got here,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray during a forum hosted by Seattle University.
As for Mayor Lee, he shared about San Francisco’s multi-faceted approach to the problem. He said that it wasn’t enough to focus on building a way out for the homeless but to also do things like increase minimum wage so that homelessness becomes less of a problem in the first place.
In particular, Lee highlighted San Francisco’s Navigation Centers, which he felt had been especially effective. He spoke about how those centers offer, “case management and health services. All of that on site 24/7.” He claims that they help the homeless by not only providing shelter but also addiction help, career services and assistance finding permanent housing.
And thanks to the success of Navigation Centers in San Francisco, those same centers will also be coming to Seattle. Mayor Murray called it his “Pathways Home” program.
“Instead of having families on waiting lists, families get housed,” Murray said. “Instead of telling people you need to be homeless longer, we are saying we are going to house you immediately.”
Seattle University was chosen to host the forum in part because of the school’s Project on Family Homelessness. The project was founded in 2009 by Seattle University’s Center for Strategic Communications. It was designed to help build public awareness of family homelessness in Washington State. The University is also home to the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, which engages Seattle University School of Law students in effective legal and policy research, analysis, and advocacy work.