Moving Forward Together to Address Seattle’s Homelessness Crisis

I’ve been asked recently, by reporters, stakeholders and individuals why I’m participating in the call for a measure on homelessness to address the issue in Seattle. Let me be super clear – people are dying on the streets of Seattle. Our homeless crisis is dangerous and not improving fast enough. That’s why I’ve joined Mayor Ed Murray and many other political and civic leaders in working to craft a bold proposal for the August ballot to urgently address our city’s homelessness emergency.

Mayor Murray’s administration and my team have come together in pursuit of this shared goal. I am proud of this partnership, and honored to be appointed by the Mayor to co-chair his advisory committee.

Seattleites agree—this is a time for bold action, a time to save lives and protect public health and safety. Mayor Murray has been taking action to address the crisis and talking publicly for months about the potential need to go to the ballot to get the resources we need to fill the gaps in our fragmented homelessness services system, and we here at Civic Ventures saw this as a perfect opportunity to apply our unique ability to work outside the normal “Seattle Process” to help catalyze change.

But of course when you try to shake up established systems, some defenders of the status quo will get offended. The Seattle Times this week published a story that questioned my motives and obfuscated what has been, to date, a streamlined and drama-free process. The story ignored Mayor Murray’s calls for action and implied that I had forced him into committing to an August ballot measure on homelessness. That is plainly and simply not the case.

But let’s focus on what actually matters:  The need to quickly and effectively move people off the streets and into permanent housing is too urgent to be distracted by politics as usual.

I cannot tell you how honored and excited I am to be standing with Mayor Murray in leading this critical effort, and I invite anyone who shares our passion and focus to join our campaign—we will need volunteers and grassroots donors and door knockers and phone callers to make this campaign a success.  But to make progress on this issue we need to recognize that it is larger than any of us, and humbly set to work.

That’s my commitment, and I know our allies—good people in City Hall, the stakeholder advisory committee assembling this package, and service providers who address the humanitarian crisis on our streets every day— feel the same way.  Let’s not lose focus on what matters.  For the sake of the homeless people on our streets, let’s make sure we continue to put people before politics.

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Nick Hanauer