Seattle councilwoman pushing to redirect police precinct money to affordable housing

Proponents of a proposal to redirect tens of millions of dollars in police spending toward affordable housing are expected to converge on a Seattle City Council budget hearing Tuesday afternoon.

The “Coalition to Build 1,000 Homes” would like to use $160 million set aside for a new Seattle Police precinct to instead build 1,000 units of affordable housing.

“Ultimately, with limited dollars to go around, it’s a question of political priorities,” Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said during an appearance on “Q13 News this Morning.”

After several city council meetings were disrupted by a small, but vocal group of protesters angry over the price tag of the new precinct, the city announced last month that it would shelve the idea and look at other options. While she agreed that the department’s current north precinct is in disrepair, Sawant said affordable housing needs to come first amid the city’s homeless crisis.

“It’s a question of political priorities,” Sawant said. “What are our most urgent priorities? Even if we agree that the building is not in the most pristine of conditions, what is the most urgent thing? I think everybody who’s concerned about public safety will also agree that affordable housing rises at the top of the list because it is the crisis of affordability in this city that ultimately leads to un-livability in this city. It exacerbates the problem of homelessness.”

You can read more about Sawant’s proposal here.