Seattle’s 2018 budget: homelessness, safe injection sites, and police outreach

The Seattle City Council approved its $5.6 billion 2018 budget on Monday by a vote of 8-1. The budget boosts funding for homelessness programs, allocates money for the creation of a safe injection site, and will be put toward strengthening the Seattle Police Department’s transparency.

Programs combating homeless crisis received a major boost in the 2018 budget. In total, these programs will receive $63 million in the coming year, an increase of 60 percent over the last four years. This budget will help continue funding programs like the Navigation Team, the Housing Resource Center, and the enhanced shelter options the Human Services Department launched in 2017. The funding also includes $400,000 to DEEL for homeless childcare programs, $588,000 for transitional housing for homeless foster youth, and $500,000 to prepare homeless youth to prepare for educational and employment opportunities.

Most notably, and perhaps most controversially, the Seattle City Council agreed to set aside $1.3 million to fund a safe injection site in Seattle. The budget also requests a study on the feasibility of the safe consumption site in Seattle, which will be one of the first in the nation of its kind. Outside of Seattle, safe injection sites are not as readily embraced.  On Monday, the Snohomish County Council decided to uphold the six-month moratorium on injection sites that it passed in September. Lake Stevens already has a ban in place, and other cities like Marysville, Lynnwood, and Sultan will vote on similar bans in the coming weeks.

The budget also allocates money to the Seattle Police Department to ensure public safety and enhance community trust. $416,575 will go toward the Office of Police Accountability’s (OPA) community outreach center and will be used to launch a mediation pilot program for the Office of Police Accountability’s complaints. The budget will allow for the creation of “Complaint Navigators.” According to the budget,

“[Complaint Navigators] will serve as points of contact for community members to file complaints and obtain support related to the OPA process. These Complaint Navigators will provide new channels for filing complaints while improving OPA’s understanding of community perspectives and additionally increase accessibility, transparency into and trust in OPA’s complaint process.”

The approved budget also ended up only cutting $400,000 from the Mayor’s Office, despite talks last week proposing to cut $1 million from incoming Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office budget.

Mayor Tim Burgess says he will sign the budget this Wednesday.