Presentation to the Pierce County Select Committee on Human Services
- Cynthia Stewart – League of Women Voters
- Talked about the presentation at the homeless forum in April
- Talked about data about homelessness ( data at https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/model/ermsDocDownload.cfm?docId=256585&fileName=Pierce%20County%20Homeless%20Students%20McKinney-Vento%20Program%202016-17%20School%20Year.pdf –ed.)
- 10k people experiencing homelessness
- 5k Mckinny-Vento homeless students
- Homelessness is a product of the current economy. Many people believe that the visible homeless are the typical homeless, which is not the case. Need more folks to understand the hidden homeless.
- Talked about the gap between earnings and the cost of renting an apartment.
- Talked about gap between the number of housing units available relative to where you are in the spectrum of poverty, and how large the gap is at the lower end of the income spectrum.
- Mentioned how over ½ of folks experiencing homelessness are people of color, but people of color are a much lower percentage of the general population. That disproportionality takes special effort and consideration.
- Larry discussed prevention – how homelessness is about problem education, income, healthcare, medical bills, etc.. And homelessness exasperates all these issues as well (nobody sees a real positive health turn around while living on the streets. No one says “I think I’ll do a turn homeless so I can kick my opioid habit” either. –ed.)
- What can be done?
- County has regional governance role that covers all jurisdictions in the county. Pierce county can exercise more of that role, and define homelessness as an emergency.
- Put together public/private and nonprofits group to make
- Establish a policy of prevention.
- The county can move ahead, even with little money – it is understood that there is no money for housing crusade. But we can get taxes passed for mental health and for affordable housing. That funding will be a help, although it doesn’t get you all the way to success.
- Land trust discussed as an option.
- County has fewer revenue resources than cities and the state – must rely on property and sales tax – very regressive (Speaking of being First, Washington has the most regressive tax system of any state in the Union. –ed). We can support the county if they want to go forward for new revenue authorities.
- Recommend do something with landlords and retaliator – incentives to allow the people who provide housing to do so at lower cost by changing development codes and zoning requirements.
- Council member are looking at coming – 3 council members need extra attention – no names mentioned (none needed. –ed) – if you know anyone if council district 1 or the candidates that are running in that district – District 2 is not running for reelection for a couple years – but could use some attention from constituents. District 3 is in the same situation.
- Maureen – what is the League’s next step? Cynthia – not sure, we are certainly not going away, have a membership meeting tomorrow to discuss plans for the coming year. Will be doing something, but not sure what. Maureen – recommend at least a quarterly update to this group. Cynthia- absolutely will do this. Looking at doing a presentation to the city of Tacoma similar to the one to the County’s Select Committee on human services.
- Maryann – can we get this powerpoint electronically – (yep - https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/model/ermsDocDownload.cfm?docId=256547&fileName=0605%20SCHS%20mtg%20packet.pdf –Ed.).
- Al – I’d like to suggest that this group hold a series of candidate forums for each district. Can bring them all in since we meet so often. James – we are working on this.
- Al – what more can we do to help? Cynthia – tell County Councilmembers to move forward with the recommendations.
- Comment – We need to not vote in cowards who are unwilling to take on these issues.
- Cynthia – none of this would have been possible without all of you –providing speakers and information and such.
- Video of the presentation: https://online.co.pierce.wa.us/cfapps/council/iview/committeeMeeting.cfm?id=3120 – fast forward to 19 minutes in.