Bryant to Seattle Council: The Wrong Direction

Bryant to Seattle Council: The Wrong Direction
Candidate addresses City Council in Public Comments

(Seattle, Wash.) – Today, former Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant addressed the Seattle City Council in public comments in opposition to the City’s proposal to open up 167 miles of sidewalks, public parks, and playgrounds as sanctioned homeless camps.

Addressing the Council, Bryant said:

I am asking you to reconsider the proposals that are before you and I think you need to move towards a zero-tolerance for camping in public places.

Relegating people who are the most vulnerable in our midst to the margins of community and enabling them to live in tents is not compassionate.  It is cruel.  And it’s denying them the services they need to become members of our community in a full way.

Bryant worked for two years as a night manager of a homeless shelter and has done homeless tours throughout the campaign, talking to service providers, law enforcement, and the homeless themselves to develop proposals that will get people off the street and back on their feet.

“I’ve talked to many homeless residents in Seattle and around the state,” said Bryant.  “Most of them want a job, a mail box, and a safe place to call home.”

“As Port Commissioner, I’ve sat where these councilmembers sit today,” continued Bryant, “the Port had to deal with homeless tent cities in the Port park and in the end, we recognized that you cannot allow camping in public spaces.”

“Recently, I walked ‘The Jungle,’ and tent camps in Seattle,” said Bryant.  “I stepped over human waste and discarded needles and that is not something we want to invite to our parks and playgrounds and expose our children to.  This proposal is the wrong direction for Seattle.”

“To tackle the homeless crisis, we must address the root causes.  It is not compassionate to allow people to live in filth on our streets, to enable the sale and abuse of heroin, or shield criminals preying on the vulnerable in tent communities,” said Bryant.

While homelessness has exploded during Governor Inslee’s first term, 42 percent higher in King County alone, Bryant has outlined his program to address the problem as Governor:

  1. Adopt a zero tolerance for camping on state Department of Transportation property
  2. Provide local law enforcement with the authority to enter WSDOT property
  3. Withhold state homeless funding from cities that permit tent camps in playgrounds, parks and on sidewalks
  4. Focus homeless dollars on housing programs moving people from tents to beds
  5. Reexamine building codes and the amount of overhead involved in building transitional and low income housing to ensure we are building as many units as possible with the funds we have
  6. We should decentralize our mental health system by focusing more on community and regional mental health and drug counseling services and care
  7. Insure that we provide veterans with mental care and drug counseling they might need

Bryant has invited Governor Inslee to participate in a debate focused exclusively on mental health and homelessness but the Governor has refused to participate, even as his administration’s adult mental health programs rank 50th in the nation.

You can listen to Bryant’s comments before the Council here

Matthew Donnellan