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Seattle mayor details some initial changes to city's homeless response

Mayor Harrell detailed two changes he's making within the city to address its response.

SEATTLE — During his first State of the City address, Mayor Bruce Harrell called homelessness in Seattle a crisis. 

His speech included details on how he's organizing city efforts to take action. He used Woodland Park as an example of the changes that are coming.

Neighbors say the camp has grown since the nearby Green Lake encampment was cleared in December. 

"Woodland Park is a gem in our city, and trash, and fires, and continued inhumane conditions are not acceptable," Harrell said.

Harrell used the park to detail two changes he's making within the city to address its response. His administration, he said, has been evaluating the existing systems. So far, the city has combined six systems in different departments to track outreach and service. He also said the city has launched a new system to record concerns about encampments from residents. 

Additional changes are coming, Harrell said. 

"No one who looks at our city today would say our work is anywhere near complete," Harrell said.

With a new mayor, people at Woodland Park Tuesday night said they were optimistic about change, but argue they want to see the right resources in place to address the crisis.

"Obviously, as someone who wants to consume the park and the surroundings, it's all fun for us when things are clean and nice. But also, we want a holistic solution," said Seattle resident Saif Ahmed. 

"With proper resources and people with certain skills and background, yes, I'm definitely hopeful," said Seattle resident Julia Aminov.

Harrell took office on Jan. 1, replacing former Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Harrell has outlined policy goals and promised to tackle issues including health care, the COVID-19 pandemic, police reform and homelessness to unite the city around a “One Seattle” vision.

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