SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he wants to take the homeless emergency to voters directly, and will bypass City Council approval of the levy vote.
Murray made the comments Wednesday in an abrupt and bold change of policy towards addressing the state of emergency. Mayors will often send legislation to the council, which may refine a levy request before it is put on the ballot.
Murray laid out his vision, which he said came from the Mayor's Homelessness Revenue Advisory Group, and calls for $275 million in additional spending on homeless services over five years. Murray says that comes out to $13 for a median household. Murray says 71% of the levy would go to expanded housing opportunities, with 9% towards behavioral health, and the rest towards connected the unsheltered with services and housing.
He's expected to file the levy request with the City Clerk's office Wednesday afternoon and start collecting signatures next week to get it on the ballot. His campaign spokesperson Sandeep Kaushik, says he needs over 20,000 signatures to qualify for the August ballot.
He made the initial pitch during his State of the City address last month. It's not immediately clear how the council feels about getting bypassed in the process.
However, councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who is a vocal advocate for the homeless, said earlier this week, "The cavalry is not coming. The federal government is not gonna help. The state is not going to help. We've got people here now. If we want an improvement, it's going to be up to us to make that improvement.
Murray concurred at a press conference Wednesday.
"It has become clear to me since the election that we are on our own," said Murray.