Questions of Homelessness: Two Candidates Weigh In
Vendor Cynthia Mewborn approached all the major Democratic mayoral primary candidates and requested interviews for Street Sense. Two responded. Here is what Tommy Wells and Jack Evans had to say to her about issues related to homelessness and poverty. Their answers have been shortened due to space.
Why would you be a good candidate in addressing the homeless problem?
Tommy Wells: First I’ve been a social worker and have worked with vulnerable families and children for twenty plus years. I have been a fearless advocate so much so that when the child welfare system was absolutely broken I led a class action lawsuit to radically change the child welfare system.
Jack Evans: Alot of the homeless individuals and families gravitate to the downtown area which is an area I represent.What we have to do in this city is give a thorough evaluation on why they are homeless and provide services that are important in getting back into a productive situation.
How do you plan to end homelessness here in Washington?
I was among the first to champion Housing First, much to disbelief of other professionals in the field and surprise the program really worked! Now we are six years later with a ninety percent retention rate.
By identifying the people, identify the services they need and provide solid preventive structure within the government so that when folks find themselves in those types of situations we can aid by intervening.
How would you address the chronically mentally ill homeless population?
By getting them into to Housing First and then providing them with mental health services.
I will support programs that identify and treat those in the homeless community who require medical attention and counseling services through targeted community-based outreach efforts.
Is your administration interested in building more affordable housing?
Yes, I was one of the designers who helped in creating it and was one of the main individuals who supported and implemented affordable housing.
As mayor, I will continue to expand the work of the Housing Production Trust Fund. I will develop 20,000 more quality affordable housing units during the first term by utilizing public private partnerships housing production trust fund and increase the rental assistance program.
A federal requirement that the Community for Creative Non-Violence Shelter must be used for homeless services expires in 2016. What are your thoughts on the future of the facility?
The leadership of CCNV must be involved in planning. Whatever happens it should not be anything that is imposed on CCNV. (Wells added that as mayor he would facilitate the whole planning processes with CCNV and CCNV will be included in all decisions.)
I would not support the closing of CCNV and from what I understand they have a lease for 99 years and isn’t running out until the next century. Ultimately, it would be up to the resident to determine where they want to see CCNV’s future.