Seattle leaders declare homeless emergency

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle's mayor, council members and the King County Executive have declared the city's growing homelessness an emergency situation.

Mayor Ed Murray and Executive Dow Constantine signed proclamations on Monday in response to the crisis and outlined a $5.3 million package to address the demands for services.

Murray says the city is prepared to do more but says federal and state partners need to step up, too. He says homelessness should be a national priority with a federal response.

“Seattle is facing an emergency as a result of the growing crisis in homelessness,” said Mayor Murray. “The City is prepared to do more as the number of people in crisis continues to rise, but our federal and state partners must also do more. Cities cannot do this alone. Addressing homelessness must be a national priority with a federal response.”

Constantine has proposed $2 million in investments that would address immediate human needs and target the root causes of homelessness.

“Emergency declarations are associated with natural disasters, but the persistent and growing phenomenon of homelessness – here and nationwide – is a human-made crisis just as devastating to thousands as a flood or fire,” said Executive Constantine. “We call on the federal and state governments to take action, including shouldering more responsibility for affordable housing, mental health treatment, and addiction services.”

The state reports that 35,000 people in King County become homeless at some point during the year.

Councilmember John Okamoto says emergency shelters are needed but new investments in prevention will help reduce the long-term problem of homelessness.

Anyone interested in helping respond to the homeless crisis can find more information here.