Seattle, San Francisco mayors discuss homeless crisis

The mayors of Seattle and San Francisco talked strategy about a big problem in both cities: Homelessness.

The mayors of Seattle and San Francisco came together on Wednesday night, to talk about the homeless crisis both of their cities are now dealing with.

The forum hosted by Seattle University covered everything from outreach methods to funding issues, as well as the biggest challenges city leaders have faced as more and more people wind up on the streets.

"When we use the term homeless, it is an issue of housing affordability, but it's also an addiction crisis," said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee agreed and said the solution to homelessness would not be easy or quick.

'You can't end homelessness by just brick and mortar, you've got to have support services to follow that for years," said Lee.  "And that's why when people say, 'Why are you spending $240 million a year and not ending homelessness, Mayor?' -- I say that you don't understand the complexity of why this is such a challenge."

Lee spoke about the low-barrier homeless navigation centers in San Francisco that have served as a model for Seattle.  The navigation centers allow pets and spouses or partners, along with a place for the homeless to store their belongings. 

"I wanted a center where you can get 24/7 help, you can have all of your belongings protected," said Lee.  "They are solution oriented, and they will work for people."

Murray has announced plans to create a navigation center in Seattle, but at Wednesday's forum, he faced questions about why the facility still isn't open.  Murray had previously said he wanted the navigation center up and running by the end of 2016.

"The hope was that it would open late last year or early this year, and we are working on it," said Murray.  "One of the biggest challenges we've had is finding space.  So that space has been found, it is being outfitted and retrofitted because there aren't a lot of empty buildings that easily have the bathrooms and showers that we need."

You can watch the mayors' entire conversation on homelessness below.

Copyright 2016 KING


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