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Q13 FOX Season of Giving

Seattle leaders can tell you how much they spent on homelessness, but hard data hard to come by

SEATTLE -- Seattle City Council members say they plan on pinpointing available publicly owned land to build affordable housing across Seattle.

Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda unveiled a new interactive map on Thursday that will be available to the city to find the best pieces of land to build on.

It’s a means to spend the $50 million a year that will be generated from the controversial head tax that passed on Monday.

Nine members of the council unanimously approved the measure affecting nearly 600 companies in Seattle. Council says they will use two thirds of the funds to build affordable housing units over the next 5 years.

But the homeless crisis is a complex one that will take more than just affordable units.

Many citizens have grown angry, saying that Seattle city leaders have squandered millions with nothing to show for it except a growing homeless crisis.

“We have to get folks inside right now. What we are doing is not working because we don’t have capacity, we have our shelters that are currently at capacity,” Mosqueda said.

When we asked Mosqueda if the council had other ideas or new strategies to fight the crisis, she said the problem was that shelters are full and they have nowhere to house people living on the streets. She then cycled back to affordable housing. We didn’t get much of an answer on other new plans.

“What we have been saying is we must expedite our commitment to building affordable housing and to couple it with services you heard about today -- that will be the change. It’s not only that, it's zoning laws and how we can build affordable housing above child care facilities, health facilities,” Mosqueda said.

In 2017, the city spent $50 million and up until now various city leaders have not been able to answer exactly what the results have been from that spending.

“What we saw last year was 5,000 actual exits from homelessness,” Mosqueda said.

It’s a number thrown out before by council members, but so far there have been no documentation to prove that 5,000 last year were actually taken off the streets into permanent housing.

Mosqueda promised Q13 News that she would provide the documentation on Thursday but it wasn't provided.

When you go to the Department of Human Services website, they do have a pie chart breaking down how the money was spent. For example, it points out that 50% of the money went into the emergency category--  things like hygiene centers and authorized encampments.

But there is no mention of the 5,000 Mosqueda says went from the streets into housing.

“Some folks did cycle back (onto the streets) and you know why ... that’s because they need additional permanent support, they need the health services we just talked about,” Mosqueda said.

Mosqueda agrees with the approach of having comprehensive wraparound services. But housing is her first focus.

“We can't help people get inside when we don’t have a place to put them,” Mosqueda said.

A report was finally provided by Mosqueda on Friday. She said there was a confusion among staff on getting the report to Q13 News on the day it was promised.

It's a spreadsheet that says more than 5,000 people exited homelessness in 2017.

But there are things that still need some clarification including whether or not there are any duplicates in the 5,000 number and whether or not the city is counting people who were on the margins they prevented from being homeless.

Mosqueda promised to follow up with more data in the coming days.