Have you heard that a number of governments have declared homeless states of emergency about a year ago? Hawaii, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, have all declared states of emergency in order to loosen up funds or bypass ordinances to address the increases in homelessness they are experiencing.
Seattle Weekly published a story reviewing what has happened since Seattle’s mayor declared the state of emergency.
Since Seattle declared the state of emergency, one year ago, overall Seattle homeless spending increased by almost $10 million, from $40.8 to $50 million. Seattle has not gone it alone as both state and federal funding increased as well.
Unfortunately, according to the mayor’s office, just providing enough emergency shelter beds to meet the need would require another $50 million a year. And businesses and neighborhoods must tolerate the hundreds of homeless encampments throughout the city.
“Seattle now spends more on homelessness than at any other time in its modern history.” The outcome of declaring the state of emergency has been a twenty percent increase in shelter beds from last year and placing a greater number of homeless people into housing than New York or L.A. – cities with at least four times the populations of Seattle.
Seattle has a population of a little more than 600,000. It has a 7.5% vacancy rate on rental properties and is experiencing a 1.5% population growth rate. Seattle’s unsheltered homeless population is about 3,000 people.
By comparison, San Diego has a population of 1.4 million with a 3.6% vacancy rate and .4% population growth rate. San Diego has about 2,700 unsheltered homeless and the San Diego Housing Commission reported this year that they spent $68 million in fiscal 2015.