Residents want Shoreline to address homelessness but City has no plan

Thursday, February 29, 2024

A chart from the 2022 Resident Satisfaction Survey shows
residents want the city to do more about homelessness
By Oliver Moffat

Every two years Shoreline surveys residents to get feedback on its performance. 

In the 2020 survey and again in 2022, residents told the city that addressing homelessness should be its top priority. 

And residents rated the city’s response to homelessness as the service they were most dissatisfied with.

Nevertheless, the city’s budget for homelessness and human services has remained flat for over ten years. 

And the number of city staff Shoreline dedicates to homelessness and human services is below average compared to other cities in the region according to data from the city.

Last year the city hired a consultant to study the problem and write a comprehensive Human Service Strategic Plan which would, for the first time, provide a coordinated plan for addressing homelessness and behavior health services in Shoreline.

The city council read a second draft of that plan at the February 26 meeting but some members were not satisfied with the results.

Councilmember Keith Scully said
“this is not what I was hoping for”
about the plan
Councilmember Keith Scully did not mince words. “I'm not sure if there were communication issues or if I just set my expectations in the wrong place, but this is not what I was hoping for,” he said. 
Scully had expected the plan to include specific actions the city could take. But instead, the plan recommended continuing to study the problem. 
“I had thought we were past that,” he said.

Currently Shoreline allocates 1% ($759,357) from the general fund each year towards human services. Most of that money is given to local nonprofits who apply to fund services. One problem with this model, according to staff, is that the city isn’t able to direct the money to the highest priority projects.

The city allocated some American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds towards human services, but that money will be gone by the end of 2024, creating an urgent funding cliff the council will need to address this year.

Screenshot from staff presentation compares Shoreline's
human services staff against other cities in the region.

Shoreline already participates in the state’s Affordable Housing Sales Tax Credit program which provided the city with $118,516.24 in 2023; part of those funds were spent to provide rental assistance to 28 low income households, according to the state’s department of commerce.

According to data from the city, the city’s Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program has so far enrolled 476 homes of affordable housing with 1,168 units planned to be built.
A graph from the King County Housing Needs
Dashboard shows Shoreline needs 9,542 new
affordable homes by 2044.

Yet the King County Housing Needs Dashboard says Shoreline needs to build 9,542 new affordable homes in the next twenty years.

According to the nonprofit Municipal Research and Services Center, cities in Washington have a number of other ways to fund affordable housing. 

Cities can also use some revenue from Real Estate Excise Taxes and they can apply for state and federal grants.

Shoreline could also ask voters to approve a property tax levy to fund affordable housing for very low-income households and affordable homeownership, owner-occupied home repair, and foreclosure prevention programs for low-income households. Seattle voters approved such a Housing Levy in 2023.

Asking the feds, state or voters for more money requires a specific plan. But right now, the city doesn’t have one.


Anonymous,  February 29, 2024 at 6:01 AM  

There is a clearly mentally ill man sleeping under a tarp blanket in the pouring rain next to Arby’s. I wish there was a phone number to call to ask for a service to check in on people who clearly need help. Yes, it’s common that people often reject assistance, but, it’s worth a try.

Anonymous,  February 29, 2024 at 8:14 AM  

As a resident, I will vote down any sort of property tax increase for the purpose of any affordable housing. Property taxes/cost of living is already high enough in Shoreline, and it is not our responsibility to follow the failed policies of Seattle's Housing First Agenda for people that had never paid one cent of taxes to Shoreline.

jno62 February 29, 2024 at 11:06 AM  

Typical and expected. People want solutions as long as it is something they can't see or feel. Look at what Kenmore just did. That's a solution, but NIMBYs win here in the PNW.

Anonymous,  February 29, 2024 at 11:40 AM  

I have seen many new apartment buildings going up in Shoreline lately. Are they all really expensive? I thought a certain percentage were supposed to be for low income renters(?)
I don't like seeing so many apartments on Aurora, if it isn't helping solve the homeless problem. What can I do to help?

Anonymous,  February 29, 2024 at 12:28 PM  

how much money has been spent on studies and paying people to evaluate problems? how much would it have cost to pay for motel rooms? when will we accept that until people have a room/tent/shelter to depend on they won't be able to address addiction, mental health, joblessness?

Anonymous,  March 1, 2024 at 7:43 AM  

Most of the people camping out in the Shoreline parks aren't from Shoreline.

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