SEATTLE -- One thing is for sure, the head tax is no more. Now we’re back to square one without a definitive plan to solve the homeless problem.
For some organizations on the front lines of fighting homelessness, the news of the repeal brought about disappointment Tuesday. But every group who spoke with Q13 News says they will stay the course and continue working to solve the homeless problem.
“It doesn’t really matter if the head tax was a good proposal or bad proposal at this point,” said Mike Buchman, communications director of Solid Ground, which provides programs and services for those in need.
Buchman says finger-pointing is taking the spotlight away from the real issue.
“What matters is, what do we do moving forward to raise a tremendous amount of resources?" said Buchman.
Resources that he says are desperately needed. Buchman says his organization offered emergency assistance, transitional housing, and permanent affordable housing to 3,500 families last year, but he says that’s not nearly enough.
“We know that there’s a need of 20,000 more affordable housing units,” said Buchman.
While the head tax didn’t have a budget breakdown, many city-funded organizations were hoping for a piece of the pie.
“Our job is to make sure there are obtainable steps to those dreams,” said YouthCare CEO Melinda Giovengo.
And those resources could have helped groups like YouthCare. In their sponsored video, they talk about their work to help homeless youth. On its website nearly a month ago, the executive director thanked the City Council and mayor for passing the head tax. Fast forward to this week and it’s a different tone.
“We find the repeal of the employee head tax disappointing. This was a chance to make a critically needed investment in affordable housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness and those at risk,” said Giovengo.
You’ve probably seen these vans going around Seattle giving out supplies to homeless people living on the streets. But Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission is a faith-based organization, meaning they don’t accept government dollars. So the head tax wouldn’t have mattered to them either way.
But the organizations who could have benefited from the head tax now won’t. Buchman hopes people against the tax will work with the community partners and the city to find solutions or put more resources to services that are working.
“We need to look for more opportunities to include regional solutions, and that includes funding, that includes service models,” said Buchman.