Deconstructing "Compassion Seattle" with Tiffani McCoy from Real Change
Release Date: 08/04/2021
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Erica C. Barnett, editor of Publicola, joins Crystal to discuss King County's new vaccine requirements, the city attorney's efforts to hurry through his last priorities, political polling, misogynistic attacks on the carpenters' union leader, rerouting crisis calls away from the police, and wariness around quarantine shelters by houseless folks.info_outline McGinn Continued
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Today on the show Marco Lowe, Professor at Seattle University’s Institute for Public Service, joins Crystal to get in to kids returning to school this fall without having had a Covid vaccine, the slow pace of rental aid distribution, the arrival of Afghan refugees in our state (and how you can help welcome them!), and the tragic rise in gun violence in our area.info_outline Consultant Roundtable: Part 1
Hacks & Wonks
Consultants Riall Johnson, Michael Charles, and Heather Weiner join Crystal to discuss the results of the primary elections this month, and what we can expect from the rest of election season. They discuss the mayoral primary results, Charter Amendment 29 / Compassion Seattle, and the results for City Council Pos. 9.info_outline
Today Crystal in joined by Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Director at Real Change, to discuss Charter Amendment 29, commonly known as Compassion Seattle. This amendment will appear on your November ballot, and would codify encampment sweeps into our city charter. Tiffani and Crystal discuss the misleading way this amendment is being messaged, what the actual cost of the amendment would be, and why its backers should make us wonder if it’s really intended to solve the homelessness crisis, or just remove houseless people from our sight.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Find the host, Crystal on Twitter at @finchfrii, and find Tiffani at @TiffaniMcCoy1. You can also find updates on the work of the House Our Neighbors Coalition at houseourneighbors.org, or follow them on Twitter at @houseRneighbors.
”Compassion Seattle Amendment Faces Scrutiny from Democratic Group and Homeless Advocates” by Chetanya Robinson from the South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/06/24/compassion-seattle-amendment-faces-scrutiny-from-democratic-group-and-homeless-advocates/
“Seattle chamber appeals dismissal of lawsuit against city’s ‘JumpStart’ payroll tax” by Daniel Beekman from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/seattle-chamber-appeals-dismissal-of-lawsuit-against-citys-jumpstart-payroll-tax/
“Sweeps Continue in Seattle: Perspectives from the Street” by Luke Brennan from the South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/06/14/sweeps-continue-in-seattle-perspectives-from-the-street/
“Interim Guidance for Homeless Service Providers” from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/plan-prepare-respond.html
“’Every Community Should be Using FEMA Dollars’ for Hotel-Based Shelter. So Why Isn’t Seattle?” by Erica C. Barnett from Publicola: https://publicola.com/2021/03/18/every-community-should-be-using-fema-dollars-for-hotel-based-shelter-so-why-isnt-seattle/
“The Cost of ‘Compassion’” by Kevin Schofield from the South Seattle Emerald: https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/07/17/weekend-long-reads-the-cost-of-compassion/#:~:text=Compassion%20Seattle%20Cost%20Analysis&text=Here%20is%20their%20report.,annually%20in%20ongoing%20operational%20costs.
“The C Is for Crank: Correcting the Record on Compassion Seattle” by Erica C. Barnett from Publicola: https://publicola.com/2021/07/13/the-c-is-for-crank-correcting-the-record-on-compassion-seattle/
“How many homeless people in Seattle are from here?” by Scott Greenstone from The Seattle Times: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/do-homeless-people-come-to-seattle-for-help/
“Regional Homelessness Director Marc Dones: ‘The Driver of Homelessness Is Economic.” by Erica C. Barnett from Publicola: https://publicola.com/2021/07/26/regional-homelessness-director-marc-dones-the-driver-of-homelessness-is-economic/
“Myths and Facts of Homelessness in Washington State” from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance: https://www.wliha.org/sites/default/files/myths.pdf
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm your host, Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk to political hacks and policy wonks to gather insight into local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work and provide behind-the-scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.
Today, I'm thrilled to be joined by Tiffani McCoy who's the Advocacy Director at Real Change, and I wanted to have Tiffani on to talk about Charter Amendment 29, the Compassion Seattle - so-called Compassion Seattle - Charter Amendment to address homelessness in Seattle. Thank you so much for joining us, Tiffani.
Tiffani McCoy: [00:01:13] Crystal, thank you so much for having me to talk about this important issue.
Crystal Fincher: [00:01:17] Absolutely, I appreciate it. So I guess, just to start, what is Charter Amendment 29?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:01:26] Yeah, Charter Amendment 29 is being peddled as a solution to the homelessness crisis in Seattle - that's verbatim what people heard on the street when approached by a paid signature gatherer. But Charter Amendment 29 includes no new solutions, no new funding, and would codify the forced removal of our unhoused neighbors into the City Charter, which is basically the same as our City's constitution.
Crystal Fincher: [00:01:56] Okay, and so they're saying, "Hey, this will solve homelessness and we're going to do it in a compassionate way. After all, our name is Compassion Seattle. It dedicates resources for services that are badly needed. It guarantees that there's going to be housing built. And it makes sure that we can do something to actually take care of people and get them off the street." Is that accurate to you?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:02:24] Yeah. So if the backers of Charter Amendment 29 - which are real estate developers, millionaires, and corporations - if they were true about solving this crisis, they would compassionately put their money where their mouth is. And they would stop recycling the false claim that we simply just need to spend our dollars better to solve homelessness. And they would also stop trying to characterize sweeps - the forced removal, the displacement of unhoused neighbors - as compassionate. And the question really is - should real estate developers dictate who lives in Seattle? Should millionaires dictate who lives in Seattle? Because according to this Charter Amendment, these folks who are bankrolling this are saying that they get to dictate who lives in Seattle.
Crystal Fincher: [00:03:15] Well, and it certainly has been reported on - that it is primarily funded by downtown Seattle business interests, who frequently talk about taking a more hard line or more criminalized approach to addressing homelessness. And I guess starting at the point of, "Okay, what does it actually do?" They're saying, "Hey, we're dedicating resources to addressing homelessness that have not been there before." I think the number is 12% of housing dollars going towards being mandated to be spent on this. Is that tangibly better than where we're at? Is that a significant improvement?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:03:55] Yeah, what you're saying is really important to kind of suss out, and I really think that this tweet by Erica C. Barnett captures it just really specifically. This Charter Amendment doesn't fund anything. It merely says that the City must shift existing resources to create 2,000 new shelter beds so that parks can be clear for housed people to use. That's the essence of this Charter Amendment. It doesn't fund anything. Right now, the City of Seattle spends roughly $11 million a year already on housing and homelessness. This Charter Amendment requires 12%, so $18 million more to allegedly "fund," and I say "fund" in quotes - wraparound services, mental health treatment, diversion programs, parks cleanup, sweeps of folks, and also to build 2,000 shelter or permanent housing units.
That's fanciful thinking. That's why this is an empty promise. There's absolutely no way that this will fund all of those mechanisms. And actually, recently, a lot of City Council members actually asked the Seattle central staff - it's the City Council's research body - "What would this actually cost us if it were enacted?" And those figures are daunting, and I think that all listeners should go and look for that report - because it looks like to enact Charter Amendment 29, it would cost between $20 to $180 million a year to do. And the lower end of $20 million is assuming that the funding of diversion programs, the funding of mental health services, the funding of wraparound services, is already happening in the City. So those boxes are already checked and that's how you get that low end number.
So, no, this doesn't fund anything. This would fund shelter beds over permanent housing, which we know under a housing first model, is the preferable range. That's the true way to get folks off the street - getting them into housing. So, no, this isn't something. This is nothing. And it is being pushed by these big business interests that just very clearly want to influence City Council and mayoral races through buying a law and putting it on the ballot at the same time.
Crystal Fincher: [00:06:23] Well, I mean, there definitely have been people who have speculated that the reason why Charter Amendment 29 is on the ballot is to help the more conservative candidates, or candidate for mayor, as it will turn out, in the general election. So, the motivations have been called into question, especially since a number of the donors previously simply advocated for more sweeps before, but then came back with the language of compassion wrapped around this. And some of the issue that you brought up about the funding - really leading with saying, "Hey, this is going to provide so much funding. We are dedicating so much to this," without mentioning that, "Hey, almost all of that money is already allocated on being spent - that is already in effect - and the new funding, any new funding that is provided for it, doesn't necessarily mean that it will provide 2,000 new units."
We don't know exactly - there's no mandate on what those units have to be. There's no mandate on what the service has to be. And we're in the midst of a situation where money has been allocated, for actually years, in the City of Seattle to build more housing - and delays and bureaucracy in the mayor's office have prevented that from coming to fruition. So I know one of my initial concerns looking at it was, "Okay, so you say that you've allocated money for doing it, but we are currently in a situation where the money can be sitting there for years with nothing happening."
Meanwhile, we would have codified in our City Charter, which is basically the city's constitution, that you can now sweep these people off of the streets - which is important because these sweeps have been ruled in several courts to be unconstitutional because there is no place else for them to go. So if the City doesn't provide some option for people to go, it can't outlaw people's existence in public and say, "No matter how you exist, if you can't afford a house, its going to be criminal." As you look at this, what are, I guess, the biggest barriers that we need to address overall to get this fixed and does the Charter Amendment make any attempt to address those or not?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:08:51] Yeah. So you brought up a lot in there, a lot of really important points. And I want to really kind of hone in on the funding aspect and how you've aptly described kind of the blocking of progress by the backers of Charter Amendment 29. I mean, these are the same folks that have stepped in full-on to stop any progressive revenue measure to actually fund the crisis. The Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Seattle Association have a lot of overlap, but actually we're litigating against the JumpStart progressive revenue source - that about $150 million a year would go towards building deeply affordable permanent housing, which we know we desperately need. And they litigated against that to try to not have that go into effect. The judge ruled against their efforts to block that funding, but they've appealed and they are still trying to fight to make sure funding for housing doesn't happen. So that also calls into question their flowery, slick PR, "We want to get everyone inside." If you truly did, you wouldn't be blocking a progressive revenue measure. You would be helping to support that.
I also think that getting into this - is this something? Sure, I'll admit that 2,000 more shelter beds would be helpful, but I'm also going to tell you, based on vendors that we've talked to at Real Change, mutual aid folks that go out and do outreach - shelter bed, mat on the floor, congregate shelter is not at all wanted. It's not desired. It is not taken. Even though we've moved in positive ways during the pandemic away from congregate shelter, there's nothing in this that guarantees that that won't happen - that these won't be mat on the floor, in at 8:00p, kicked out by 6:00a, not being able to bring a pet, not being able to bring your belongings and your partner, et cetera, et cetera. So this is a false solution. And not only that, it does absolutely nothing for 50% of our unhoused neighbors currently living outside, and it does nothing to deter the inflow of homelessness. It has nothing about eviction protection or just deeply affordable housing. Generally, it's an empty promise to end homelessness and it grossly sensationalizes our most vulnerable residents for political gain.
Crystal Fincher: [00:11:21] Well, and I think you raised some important points - one, looking at really criminalizing the most vulnerable residents - putting them at risk of being swept - and really it's important to think about - when you are unhoused and you are really carrying all of your belongings with you, being swept means someone coming and just taking all of your things, and oftentimes, despite assurances that have happened in the past saying, "Well, we try and spare people's belongings," frequently they do not. So someone who is just trying to cobble together anything that they can, maintain their few possessions, have some kind of sense of continuity and history - we look at all of the things that we keep around our houses and imagine you just trying to keep a few things and someone just deciding one day that they're going to come and remove it all, when you have nowhere else to go and don't have ample time or opportunity to move or to relocate.
And as you said, this also doesn't mandate any kind of productive housing. We were actually able to get a lot of data throughout this pandemic as congregate shelter - people just kind of in one room on cots or mats all together - became a public health risk because of the pandemic. And so there was a shift to housing people in hotel rooms. And the difference between being among a bunch of other people who you don't know - concerns about your safety potentially, your belongings, whether or not they're going to be stolen, it not being a place where you can just be, like in your house all day long, you have to clear all your stuff and leave and then come back oftentimes. The difference between the stress and anxiety that causes, and then being able to have a room to yourself, a door that locks, a place where only you have access to your belongings - just that measure of peace and ability to exhale, just removing that really mental health barrier of the burden of not having any privacy, set people up for so much more success and there are much better outcomes.
So being that this doesn't even mandate that, "Hey, we're going to make sure that we provide the type of shelter and housing and individual rooms that increases the likelihood for success," seems like that's a big glaring oversight to me. And one of the criticisms is that, "Hey, this was crafted by the people who just want to sweep people." They actually did not include the impacted populations in this group. Sure, they had a couple people from service providers who may stand to profit from this initiative and see revenue result from it, but people who are actually living on the streets - who can provide great feedback on what would actually be helpful, what can actually get people over the hump and into, not just housing, but be stable in their housing - were excluded from this process. And so a lot of what we're seeing that has been helpful in other circumstances is not even included in this. As you look at it, what do you see as some of the major oversights?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:14:48] I mean, all of those oversights you just mentioned are critical and point towards the pretty clear fact that this isn't about housing our neighbors. This is not about building housing for folks to have inside. This isn't about stemming the economic impact, which is creating homelessness in the first place - rising rents, wages that are decreasing, the pandemic. This isn't about any of that. This is truly just about buying a law to influence City Council and mayoral races. I mean, the Chamber of Commerce had a stunning defeat - and the Downtown Seattle Association - in the 2019 races, spending millions of dollars to try to influence and they lost most of those seats. So they're doing it in this backdoor way, again, by sensationalizing homelessness for political gain.
I also like to think of this as just very clearly, Mayor Jenny Durkan's dream scenario for sweeps. This is how she has moved the City since she has stepped into office. We used to have mostly 72 hour sweeps and now the predominant amount of sweeps are very last minute - no services, no outreach there. You've got to throw your stuff away and just get on with yourself. And I mean, incredibly traumatizing. Sweeps are traumatizing all the time, no matter what, no matter if you have 72 hours, if you have a week, two weeks. It's the City, it's the state telling you, "You don't belong here. You need to find somewhere else to go, and we're not going to help to actually stem what brought you into this position in the first place."
So it's just overall just smoke and mirrors and it's just so unfortunate and deeply disturbing and gross because we do know what can address this crisis. And instead of being able to focus on that, these corporations and big businesses are still trying to operate like a parallel government in that they get to decide equally with folks that we elect into office how the City should run.
Crystal Fincher: [00:16:57] I think a lot of this fundamentally goes down to the - I think there's just "conventional wisdom," which is not tethered to reality - but just that, "Hey, people shouldn't be on the streets and for some reason it is more of a problem for me to see people who are homeless than for people to actually be unhoused. And they just need to go somewhere else and they just need to move somewhere else and it's their fault anyway. They're probably using drugs. They're a source of crime." And I think we really have to grapple with the amount of people who are underneath this impression - sometimes media coverage and what gets sensationalized exacerbates that impression - that homelessness, really when a lot of the interests, especially pro Charter Amendment 29 interests talk about it, they talk about it in terms of a crime problem. As if, one, this is a major or significant source of crime in that people who are unhoused are somehow not victims more often than perpetrators of violence, and some of the most vulnerable people in our society that need protection. But how do you address to people that, "Hey, just step back for a second - just criminalizing this. Here is why throwing someone in jail if they're in a tent on a sidewalk doesn't work?" How do you talk about that?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:18:35] That gets into a lot of the framing that Charter Amendment 29 is using around this. They always highlight one of the first couple things is one, that this is about us getting people off the streets, and then the second and third thing is usually about, we need more mental health service and addiction treatment. So they are perpetuating the myth that the vast majority of people are living outside because of a drug and alcohol problem and mental health problem. And we know that's not the case. In fact, just this last week, Marc Dones was interviewed by PubliCola. Sorry, I'm in the office so there's a phone ringing in the background. But Marc Dones, who's the new head of the Regional Homelessness Authority, just said that it's really about 15 to 20% of those living outside have severe behavioral health or substance use issues. The vast majority of folks experiencing homelessness can't afford to get into housing. He says it is an economic issue and not at all because of - that the main driver is not drug and alcohol issue, as Charter Amendment 29 backers would have you believe.
So, in the face of all of this evidence, we know again the political impetus for Charter Amendment 29 is about sensationalizing those things that you mentioned about people not wanting to see visible poverty, about people seeing mental health issues happening in public when they're walking to get coffee or to lunch. It's not about a humane approach and look at how our economic system is failing humans. It's about, "You are a bother to my eyes. I don't want to see it. Let's sweep you off to somewhere else." So we need to get back into realizing and absorbing and embracing that this is an economic issue through and through - not just even in Seattle - nationwide. We don't have housing as a human right. We don't allow housing to meet your needs based on your income. It's just like a completely gross upside down system and until we start to truly realize that this is an economic issue, that rent is too high, that we don't have deeply affordable housing - at the end of the day the question is, who gets to decide who lives in Seattle? That's what I would say to that person.
Crystal Fincher: [00:21:01] I think those are all excellent points and I do think that we have work to do and that we need to hold more of our media accountable in the wider ecosystem. There's been a lot of excellent reporting on this from some of our local papers and local media outlets, but there's also been some problematic local reporting. And so we really have to, I think, call out when there are obviously misleading, obviously non fact based, non data based narratives that frequently make homeless people increasing targets of violence and absolutely stigmatize it. Because to your point, and there was just another study that came out - I think it was this past week - that yes, homelessness is an economic problem. More people are homeless because they cannot afford to pay for a place to live than any other problem. And in fact, being homeless exacerbates all of the other problems. So allowing people to become homeless actually makes all of the other problems worse. It's not that those other problems start and then homelessness suddenly spontaneously erupts. This is a problem of affordability fundamentally and prioritization of making sure everyone does have a home and that this is accessible to live in.
So I guess one of the biggest issues to me is that I think there is a considerable - polling continuously reinforces that there is a huge percentage of the population who, I think, a lot of times feel like, "Hey, I don't know what the ultimate decision is to fix this. There have been a lot of people trying for years. I've heard it talked about for years. It's been declared an emergency and only got worse. And I hear this bickering about it. And it seems like no one who's been elected whose job it has been to fix this has been up to the task of getting this fixed, so at least this is something because what's the alternative?" So when you hear that, and what's the alternative - what should be happening for people sick of seeing nothing happening - what should be happening? What is possible? What can be done in the short term to make a big impact?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:23:34] Yeah, I want to go back to that media accountability, because I think it's key. We have to, as a society, move past this idea of respectability politics and call it out as we see it. We're in a climate crisis. I have a young daughter who's two. I'm terrified for the next generations and myself, all of us, for what's going to happen. There are massive things that we should be focusing on instead of me fighting a bunch of rich people who want to influence city politics by buying a law. That's what I'd like to do, but back to the media - we have to hold them accountable. The Seattle Times is playing a really, really egregious role in not being objective whatsoever in this. They very much want this to pass. They make that super clear in all their writing. They aren't publishing any op-eds that shows, like the House Our Neighbors Coalition who's fighting to defeat this Charter Amendment. They're not running any op-eds from anyone in the community and we've had several people send in. They're not going to run that, just not at all going to give that viewpoint.
We also need to hold the people that are in power accountable, like truly, truly accountable. If you look at the mailers that are going out for City Council races - one of these mailers by Jessyn Farrell shows the list of neighborhoods that are going to be the priority for encampments should she become mayor. That is a very clear dog whistle and violent actually. And it's a dog whistle that everyone-
Crystal Fincher: [00:25:11] Wait, she released a sweep priority list? Is that what you're saying?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:25:14] I'm going to show you it.
Crystal Fincher: [00:25:15] Okay, so we can see each other on video on this podcast. So... Oh, look at that. There's a whole map.
Tiffani McCoy: [00:25:25] These are the priorities.
Crystal Fincher: [00:25:28] I am looking at this. It does exist. And so looking at Jefferson Park, Lake City Park, Occidental Square, Haller Lake, Ballard Commons, North Aurora, any public school property with unsheltered people. What that tells me is that, once again, although they seem to be bending over backwards to avoid talking about the one thing that this actually does that's new or significantly different, and that is codify sweeps in the City Charter, which is basically the city constitution - which I continually, and we're deep into this podcast now, but I also have to say is against King County Public Health guidance in the middle of a pandemic and against CDC guidance in a pandemic as being very unhealthy and likely to spread the virus doing sweeps.
And we see this determination to not just move forward, but to make it impossible for anyone to keep people from being able to sweep and to basically enact a criminalized or just basically razing people's abodes. So we have a challenge here, but I guess I'll go back to the question. For someone who's saying, "I am so fed up with this problem being this problem, and it's not my job to fix it. Elected people haven't fixed it. This seems like it may do something new to address the problem." What are the alternatives? What should people be pushing for? What do we know works? What can be done in the short term to make a significant impact?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:27:17] I'm glad that we were able to go back to that. Thank you for going on that tangent of that dog whistle to all of those neighborhoods, "I will be there for you to make sure you don't see visible poverty." That's across many different candidates. You can tell which ones have adopted Charter Amendment 29 language and are putting it in their mailers.
But to what can happen now - I think that we just do have to take a step back and look at how disastrous this mayor has been for this crisis and for, I mean, lots of things, but let's just stick to this crisis. She has left time and time again money on the table from the federal government to bring people inside. She decided not to take up FEMA money to put folks inside and COVID-19 money to put folks into hotels. She's just left millions of dollars on the table and folks, I encourage you, if you want to read more about that to just Google anything about Seattle and COVID money being left on the table. So that could have put hundreds of our unsheltered neighbors inside, into a room of their own, where they have that agency and safety. So we just didn't take that money that would be basically no strings attached from the federal government.
What also can be done right now is folks can, especially if they're in the business community, demand that the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Seattle Association drop the litigation against the JumpStart progressive revenue because that will put into the hopper thousands of units.
We also just need to look at zoning, just have to be very real about it. There's a recent racial equity toolkit analysis that came out on, I can't remember the name of it, The Urban Village Strategy. Not only is it showing the deep racist roots of so many in the city of Seattle, but how it makes it impossible to solve the housing crisis because of all of the single family zoning. So we have to look at that. That is starting to happen immediately at the City Council, so getting involved in those fights to make sure that we change zoning so that we are able to... Sorry, a phone is going on in the background. So that we're able to actually create density and affordable housing across the whole city and not just have these very white dominant spaces that are protected.
I would also say, RV safe lots. Real Change fought for some of the federal money that just came through for RV safe lots. We have about 1,500-2,000 folks living in their vehicle and we just always forget them. We don't do anything to meet their needs. So we need to like massively expand those. We did win some funding through the federal money that came down. There is a second round, so Real Change is going to keep fighting for that, so stay tuned. We need to get like thousands of those. We need to start talking in the thousands, not the hundreds or the dozens of units.
And then I would say investing in housing first. I mean, we'll see what House Our Neighbors becomes after November 3rd, but those are a couple of things to plug into now. But I also recommend folks look at the House Our Neighbors Twitter because we are actively plugging people into fights that will make a difference right now.
Crystal Fincher: [00:30:21] Perfect. So where can they find you? What is the House Our Neighbors Twitter?
Tiffani McCoy: [00:30:27] I think it's just house and then the letter R... Yeah, it's @houseRneighbors, and neighbors is spelled out, on Twitter. Same with Facebook. Our website is houseourneighbors.org, but the our is spelled out. And yeah, we're on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Get involved. We've been tabling for a couple of weeks now.
We also did some decline to sign petitions and we had people actually remove their signatures as well, because just going back to something you said Crystal, this is a slick PR campaign. They have millions of dollars behind them. They paid $180,000 to get signatures collected and when people are starting to learn about the disingenuous nature of this and who's backing it, they reached out to us to remove their signature. And one woman was crying and not to like politicize this, but she just felt ashamed that she was duped, as she says, by this. But we do want to solve this crisis as a community - you're completely right - it's just this is not the way to do it and it would actually cause a lot more harm and, as you said, it would cost way more money.
Crystal Fincher: [00:31:37] I mean, this seems like it's going the way of several other issues - whether it's how we address substance use disorder and substance use, to how we just address issues of general affordability in society and workers' rights. There are very well-funded efforts afoot to keep things the way that they are and the way that they are has been harmful. And the attempt to move in a more positive way, which in this situation is not throwing people into jail or throwing away all of their belongings and just telling them to move somewhere else. That actually does nothing to address the issue, the fundamental problem, which is that that person does not have a place of their own to stay. For most people, the reason why is because they can't afford it. That is the primary reason. Nothing else is more of a cause.
And that this population is more at risk of being victimized and harmed, not more likely to do harming or to be victimizing others. And so to prioritize taking care of people who need a home, and as you said, there is no substitute. We have to build places for people to live. There are not enough places. There are not enough affordable places. We have to address all of that.
There's encouraging conversations happening within the mayoral race right now and City Council races. Certainly, there are candidates like Bruce Harrell and Jessyn Farrell and Casey Sixkiller who are supporting Charter Amendment 29. But there's a lot who aren't. Basically, the rest are not. And so those conversations and really giving the investments that are being made, like you said, even the JumpStart tax that was just passed with investments there, there is actually action being taken. I think part of the issue is some of the stuff that is taken and that we are seeing is working is very contrary to the narrative that has been set out by some of the hard line interests that we've seen come out of downtown from the DSA and the Chamber.
So, part of the answer I think is to see the investments that are now being made through, to see now that the Regional Homeless Authority has a leader and direction for that work to be done and to continue with the work of building homes for people and addressing affordability. There really is no other sustainable solution. So thank you so much for joining us today. And again, if anyone has any questions, wants to get involved, we'll put all of this information in our show notes and they can reach out to you again on the House Our Neighbors Twitter or Facebook or website, I assume, and reach out to you there. So thanks so much, Tiffani, for joining us today.
Tiffani McCoy: [00:34:47] Thank you Crystal. I appreciate the opportunity.
Crystal Fincher: [00:34:47] Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks. Our chief audio engineer at KVRU is Maurice Jones, Jr. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I, and now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Just type in "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar, be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our midweek show delivered to your podcast feed. You can also get a full text transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced during the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes.
Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you next time.