Complicit in homelessness

I’m doing some research on how the City’s inaction contributes to the issue of homelessness. I have a bit more research to do. But This is what I have found so far. I wanted to go to tonight’s council meeting to stand with the residents of Tiki apartments, but I didn’t get to Tacoma until later in the evening. Click here to help the residents.

Here is what I have found.

In 2017 – 16 exemptions to developers were approved for tax breaks for a total of 1174 Units. That was an average of 1.33 per month, but not every month saw approval of an exemption. In Q117, six (6) exemptions were approved. In Q217, three (3) exemptions were approved. In Q317, six (6) exemptions were approved and in Q417, one (1) exemption was approved.

2017 resolutions tax exempt
By May of 2017, nine (9) exemptions had been approved. After May of 2017, seven (7) exemptions were approved.In May of 2017 – Ordinance 28430 was passed, declaring a state of public health emergency relating to the conditions of homeless encampments, authorizing such actions as are reasonable and necessary in light of such emergency to mitigate the conditions giving rise to such a public health emergency, and providing a sunsetting date of October 9, 2017

Then, on September 19, 2017 Resolution No. 39813 happened.
A resolution authorizing an increase to the contract with Business Interiors Northwest, Inc., in the amount of $2,200,000, plus applicable sales tax, for a total amount of $4,200,000, budgeted from various departmental funds, for Citywide Herman Miller furniture and related services, through May 31, 2020 – U.S. Communities Contract No. 4400003403. [Patsy Best, Procurement and Payables Division Manager; Andy Cherullo, Director, Finance]

Herman Miller office chairs retail for about $419 each. Your standard ergonomic office chair goes for about half that. This is the public’s money. $2.2m added to the office furniture budget. In the middle of a housing crisis.

As if all that weren’t enough, December 2017, unhappy with the outrage citizens had been expressing for over two years in a “talk at” forum and not “discuss with” conversation, City Council authorized an expenditure of $25,000 to be spent with the Center for Dialogue Resolution. To teach citizens how to communicate with council.

Then in November of 2017 Resolution No. 39876 happened.
A resolution authorizing the use of up to $50,000 of City Council Contingency Funds to support a pilot project to assist tenants and provide incentives to landlords who accept Section 8 Housing Vouchers; create funds for landlord damage reimbursements, and to assist tenants with screening fees and security deposits; and directing the City Manager to examine the feasibility of adding source of income as a protected class in rental regulations and negotiate and execute a professional services agreement with the Tacoma Housing Authority outlining the scope of work and deliverables.

So, the City, in the middle of a housing crisis, grants 7 more tax exemptions, approves a budget increase of $2.2m for office furniture, authorizes the spend of $25k to “teach citizens how to engage” and then grants $50k for emergency funds for people who are suffering during the housing crisis.

2018 – (so far) 7 exemptions granted for tax breaks to developers for a total of 616 Units. We are on pace to have as many exemptions as last year, if not more.

2018 resolutions tax exempt
None of these units that are being exempted are going to be anywhere near affordable.  I will be doing some more research and gathering the data to present in a way that tells this story.It is ridiculous that Council has to go into executive session to make a determination about whether or not to help people who are imminently facing homelessness, but developers who bring their projects to the council have already had all the discussions with them prior to the city council meetings and those approvals get the green light with NO discussion in the citizens forum.

Speculators in our community look on our resources with hungry eyes and empty hearts.

We can do better as a community. We MUST do better as a community.

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