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Seattle Human Rights Commission recommends that the City Council craft and pass a fair, equitable & humane budget

By the Seattle Human Rights Commission

As Seattle community representatives and advisors to the City of Seattle leadership, today we provided the City Council with community feedback that we have received on the 2021 budget.

In summary, this is not the time for an austerity budget. We need to support our most vulnerable populations. We need to fully address and fund our community’s social needs. We need to protect our community’s human rights.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed City budget for 2021 fails to deliver in these areas. Its adoption would negatively impact the lives of Seattle residents; particularly our most vulnerable communities.

We can afford to make greater efforts to respond to and prevent homelessness. The Mayor’s budget proposes to decrease funding in affordable housing by at least $62 million; at a time when homelessness in the city is dire and is poised to become far worse in the upcoming months. Her budget would continue to fund the cruel, inhumane, and ineffective sweeps of our unhoused neighbors experiencing homelessness, through her Unsheltered Outreach and Response Team. Her budget eliminates the $30 million Strategic Investment Fund that was earmarked to address racial equity and displacement through real estate investment in development projects.

The community is asking that the Council crafts and approves a budget that is built on improving racial equity, supporting social justice, valuing the sanctity of life, and preserving human rights. Not only is it possible to pass a budget that reduces the harm caused by the Seattle Police Department on our Black and Brown communities, it is within reach to move Seattle towards realizing its designation as a Human Rights City.

We strongly recommend that Councilmembers listen to the voices of the Seattle community and craft a budget that:

  1. Stops the inhumane and ineffective sweeps of our homeless neighbors.
  2. Increases funding for affordable housing and social services, especially to enable Black families to return to the Central District.
  3. Funds programs to prevent evictions and foreclosures, for renters, working-class homeowners, and struggling small businesses.
  4. Funds more tiny house villages.
  5. Includes measures to reduce the income and wealth inequality divide between the richest and poorest population segments.
  6. Funds the Green New Deal for Seattle with good union jobs and free transit.
  7. Raises the necessary funds for these social investments by reallocating money from the police department budget and implementing progressive tax mechanisms.
  8. If the Council needs to reduce the police budget by more than 50%, then this is the path to take.
  9. Seattle can no longer afford a police force that harms, injures, and kills our Black and Brown community members. The community needs a public safety solution that works for all communities and that preserves the sanctity of life of all the Seattle residents under their care.

We hope that the City Council will exhibit the courage, bravery, and leadership required to do their job and do what is best for the people that put their faith in them and elected them to office.

During this budget session, the Council’s constituents will be watching, will be evaluating their performance (by their actions, not by their words), will see the interests they are optimizing for, will remember their stance, and will act accordingly.

It is within grasp for Seattle to live up to its promise; not just as a Human Rights City, but as a progressive beacon that puts its residents first.