City Council hears pitch to eliminate homelessness in downtown Seattle | Local

ByShannon J. Cortes

Mar 20, 2022

SEATTLE — Anti-homelessness organization We Are In has created a proposal called “Partnership for Zero” to eliminate many of downtown Seattle’s homeless people. It was recently reviewed by members of the City Council’s Homelessness Sub-Committee.

Council members Andrew Lewis, Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda listened March 16 as Mark Dones, CEO of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, deliver the briefing on behalf of We Are In.

“Partnership For Zero is an initiative to treat an emergency as an emergency,” Dones said. “The goal is to create a functional zero subsystem in the city center [of Seattle].”

This means that significant support and pressure would be extended to most homeless people currently camped downtown and they would be moved to shelters.

The boundaries of the targeted space would be from Belltown through the International District, although there is room for negotiation.

“Those boundaries can move and that’s actually okay,” Dones said. “The purpose of boundaries is to indicate where deployment will be concentrated [of personnel and resources]but what we’re going to do is respond to where people are.

Downtown as defined by Dones has recently received a lot of attention for its increase in crime and visible homelessness. Dones said, based on the data, downtown Seattle has the highest concentration of homeless people in King County.

Council member Herbald asked Dones questions about the initiative, including the definition of the term “zero operation.”

“I had expressed some concern about calling it ‘Partnership for Zero’ because I think calling it a way people would expect there to be no tents in the area “Herbald said.

According to Dones, the term “Partnership for Zero” and its goal of “working zero” is a federally recognized way to tackle the problem.

He said the aim was to achieve as little homelessness as possible. For the city center, it projects a figure below 50.

Partnership For Zero plans to keep this number of people homeless as much as possible.

“Let’s say five people walk in [to the downtown core]then we need to make sure that five people are also out in stable placements,” Dones said.

Project For Zero partners include Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ballmer Group, and the Seattle Foundation, among others.

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