SEATTLE — Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena González outlined her plan for tackling homelessness, Thursday, contrasting sharply with her opponent Bruce Harrell over the clearing of tents from parks and sidewalks.
Harrell vowed to remove encampments, but González said that won’t happen on her watch.
“I am not as mayor going to forcibly remove people out of one public space and shift the issue to another public space,” González said during a press conference outside a new affordable housing complex in Capitol Hill.
She said she will work to build thousands more subsidized housing units, expand social services for people struggling with homelessness, and create new protections for renters, including rental assistance, limiting rent hikes, and requiring landlords to give several months’ notice before increasing someone's rent.
González said she would pay for expansions of housing and services by taxing big businesses, like Amazon, as well as the wealthy.
She made clear homeless encampment sweeps would not happen if she is elected to office.
“My goal and my policy will be to rapidly assess all of the encampments in the city together with the community service providers, together with housing providers, and immediately assess the needs of each individual, and begin the process of actually asking folks to transition into safer spaces,” she said.
Bruce Harrell earlier this month said he thinks there should be consequences for people living in unsanctioned homeless encampments who refuse services.
He responded to González’s remarks, Thursday, with a statement: "Since day one of this campaign, I have made clear that I will bring needed leadership – and accountability – to this crisis, including ambitious but needed goals for 2,000 units of supportive housing, expanded emergency rental assistance to prevent homelessness, and resources to clean and restore parks and open spaces."
"The status quo approach offered today isn't working – people are suffering for lack of action in City Hall. Soundbites and vague promises of new revenue will not help people get housing and support right now, and will not make parks and sidewalks safe and welcoming for all the people of Seattle," Harrell said.