City excelled in embracing county’s homelessness program
I know there have been many forums and conversations in Federal Way about King County taking over the Extended Stay Hotel, which will be used to house carefully screened homeless people. I think that Mayor Jim Ferrell and the FW City Council excelled in embracing this program, and worked with the county to assist people into shelter like this. We need to remember that these folks were just like us before they lost their homes, and that they come from all walks of life and all races, and that them being on the street has more to do with the loss the U.S. “safety net” and the costs of housing than it does anything else. When Ronald Reagan was President, he cut the public housing funds running through HUD by 60%, which crippled construction of new housing and delayed maintenance on existing public housing… and it has never really been restored.
Almost all towns and cities across the U.S. are experiencing some amount of homelessness as wages stagnate. People could be high school dropouts or PhD’s, and suddenly find themselves without an income and homeless.
People worry about homeless people using drugs and drinking, which many of them may do. However, I think I would, too, if I had no warm home, no running water, no toilet, no roof to keep out the weather, no health care or dentistry, didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, and had to continually worry about someone stealing my backpack or sleeping bag. And sometimes nowhere to even sit down or lie down anywhere.
In 2016, The Stranger reported on a young blind man, who was on SS Disability, living in an SHA apartment. The man could hardly afford his rent there, bus passes, food and a few clothes. One month he spent more on food and was $49 short on his rent payment, and SHA was considering evicting this blind man to the streets. Workers who have been permanently injured in on-the-job accidents might be out there.
So some people (Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and others in Washington) can live in 30,000-square-foot houses, and others don’t even get a patch of sidewalk or some bushes. We have a sorry system here.
But again, kudos to Mayor Ferrell and this city council, and all the FW people, like councilmember Lydia Assefa-Dawson, who work for the county and have brought services to the vulnerable in King County.
Before the “remodeling” of Seattle, there were some old hotels in the Pioneer Square area that were known as SROs (Single Resident Occupancy). There, mostly men could get a cheap room with a hot plate and little else, and pay daily, weekly or monthly. The SROs kept a lot of men off the street. Now the county and Federal Way are modernizing that idea with these hotel purchases.
I hope that we are all good neighbors for the hotel as the process gets underway. It’s still “Do unto others as you would unto yourself” if I recall correctly.
Vote to support our police officers and tackle the soaring crime
The increasing violence and property crime has become very concerning for so many Federal Way residents and business owners. By the end of 2020, murder in Federal Way was up by 50%, motor vehicle theft increased by 22%, and aggravated assault and burglary was up over 31%. And this alarming crime trend in Federal Way is continuing in 2021.
To add insult to injury, Federal Way voters previously passed a tax levy back in 2006 for “enhanced police and community safety,” which is an extra utility tax still being collected to this day — and yet city leaders have allowed police staffing per capita to fall to the lowest level in the history of the Federal Way Police Department, to just 1.25 staffed officers per 1,000 residents in 2021. Back in May during a public safety committee meeting, Police Chief Andy Hwang even said: “We are very thin, we are a skeleton crew.”
The combination of increasing crime and a declining officer ratio in Federal Way should have never been allowed to get this bad. It is time for a major shift in city priorities, and that is going to require some changes in leadership.
Federal Way’s 13 police lieutenants are responsible for supervising patrol corporals, field officers and detectives — and they themselves respond to the most serious crimes such as shootings, homicides, major thefts and robberies. These 13 lieutenants represent nearly 300 years of combined policing experience. On Sept. 15, the 13 lieutenants did not endorse a single sitting council member up for re-election, but rather expressed their support for all new council candidates who are challenging the existing incumbents.
Please read each “candidate statement” in the King County Voters’ Pamphlet because the best candidates to support a new priority will be using words and phrases like “police force,” “police department,” “protection,” “fighting crime” and “enforcing laws.” The other council candidates may only mention something vague about “public safety.”
I urge Federal Way residents to vote during this important general election, and for candidates who will truly support our police officers and work to tackle this city’s increasing violence and property crime.
Editor’s note: These letters were originally published on Oct. 14. The letter above has been corrected to reflect accurate information about endorsements.