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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 25, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 48
Mayor Ed Murray signs new City budget

Includes money for LGBT, Capitol Hill projects
Section One
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Mayor Ed Murray signs new City budget

Includes money for LGBT, Capitol Hill projects

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed the new 2017-2018 City budget on November 22 at a ceremony in City Hall's seventh-floor conference room. The $5.4 billion budget passed the City Council the previous day on an 8-to-1 vote.

Included in the budget are a number of items of interest to the LGBT community and the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The City's Office of Housing will get an extra $54,000 to do a needs assessment on housing for low-income LGBT seniors. This study will include:

o information on the demand for affordable housing by LGBTQ seniors;

o identification of barriers and recommendations for reducing barriers to accessing housing for this population;

o strategies for providing housing assistance to such seniors; and

o a proposed work plan to implement identified recommendations and strategies.

The number of LGBTQ seniors in the Seattle area is expected to double by 2030, and studies show this demographic experiences income inequality, discrimination, and a higher-than-average risk of health problems.

Seattle City Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez proposed the study to help shape plans for future housing options.

'When we're dealing with real issues of how does housing affordability intersect with housing discrimination, this is a unique population, and as we are venturing down this path of investing significantly in the creation of more affordable housing, building a community can look different based on who we're building it for,' said Gonzalez.

The $54,000 study would look at what amenities could be co-located with LGBTQ senior housing, including health clinics and social support services.

The budget also included funding for an ongoing Seattle Parks project that will expand the budget of Capitol Hill's Miller Community Center to allow for extended operating hours.

As part of a long-term plan announced in September, the Miller Community Center will become what the City calls an 'LGBTQ community hub.'

The so-called 'hub-centric' pilot program is part of the City's plan to address social equity concerns by boosting Seattle's community centers with 'free or low-cost community-centric programs.'

The plan also includes more money for the Central District's Garfield Community Center to support more free use and community programs.

The budget also has increased funding for homelessness services. On top of the $59 million in homelessness funding the mayor asked for, the City Council made some additions.

They added $85,700 for a seasonal homeless shelter in Lake City, $200,000 for lockers or other storage of belongings at shelters, about $700,000 over the next two years to maintain extended hours at the Lazarus Day Center, and $300,000 to buy and install a public restroom and maintain it for the next two years.

The City Council approved $29 million in new money for affordable housing as part of a compromise proposed by Councilmember Lisa Herbold. Councilmember Kshama Sawant had proposed taking money slated to build a new police precinct in North Seattle and using it instead to build 1,000 units of low-income housing.

Herbold got almost all the Council on board her plan to build the housing without abandoning plans for the new police facility.

On the down side, the budget fails to provide dedicated funding for labor law enforcement.

The City's Office of Labor Standards, the agency that enforces the minimum wage, wage theft, and paid sick days laws, will also be charged with enforcing recently passed secure scheduling rules and hotel worker protections. The budget doubles the size of that office but without establishing a steady stream of money.

The City Council passed the budget 8-to-1, with only Councilmember Sawant voting no.

'The budget as a whole remains overwhelmingly the same business-as-usual budget that has failed to meet the needs of regular people in our city year after year,' Sawant said, adding that the budget 'fundamentally depends on taxing poor and working people' instead of the wealthy.

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Mayor Ed Murray signs new City budget

Includes money for LGBT, Capitol Hill projects

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