Seattle and King County: Act now to protect people, parks, and our shared environment

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Supporters of this petition urge Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Seattle City Council, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the King County Council and Washington Governor Jay Inslee to act now to provide safe, hygienic places for people experiencing homelessness. 

“We have two crises — parks and homelessness. We must solve them both. But we cannot expect to solve the one crisis on the back of the other.” Thatcher Bailey, former president and CEO, Seattle Parks Foundation

Act now to save lives. Thousands of people are fighting to survive in cold, wet weather in city parks and green spaces at a time when thousands of clean, warm, and hygienic indoor spaces are available in King County. Tragically, many people suffering in unhealthy, unsanitary conditions are dying of neglect. 

Act now to save parks and the environment. The human tragedies playing out in our parks are being compounded as beloved parks, green spaces and sensitive waterways are being overrun, deeply damaged, and needlessly sacrificed. These are the consequences of a serious abdication of our region's responsibility to protect both people and our environment. We need to act now to preserve and protect our urban forests, wildlife, and our most environmentally sensitive waterways. 

Seattle is one of the most educated, wealthy, and generous places in the United States. Every year, the residents of the Puget Sound area spend over $1 billion on homelessness. City of Seattle spending has more than quintupled in recent years, to a budget of $167 million for 2021, which makes it all the more difficult for community members to understand how we could have failed to prevent one of the worst homeless crises in the country.

Solutions are as complex and varied as the reasons that people become homeless in the first place. But the one thing that everyone who is homeless has in common is they lack shelter and many now lack any place to go where they can be supported with the basics of a warm space, hygiene services, and a supportive community.

It’s time for a true emergency response to this crisis. We know what to do. Every year communities all across America effectively respond to homelessness caused by floods, fires, and earthquakes. In the same way, we can create and utilize safe bridge shelter options such as hotel rooms, tiny home villages, Pallet shelters, and sanctioned tent communities in thousands of non-parks properties available in King County to quickly provide affordable, voluntary, safe shelter. In a parallel effort, let’s rapidly build out Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) for the chronically homeless in our communities. A key to the success and acceptance of this solution is that welcoming communities regain their clean, safe, and healthy parks and public spaces.

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