Durkan and Moon: Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness


To help Seattle voters make the important choice of how to vote for our next mayor, we’ve partnered with leading housing and homelessness advocacy organizations and service providers on a 2017 voter education project, with two major components:

  • Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness
  • Changing Seattle: Mayoral Candidates Debate Growth, Affordable Housing and Homelessness, Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Seattle University

Voter’s Guide

The first, below, is this online Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness, produced in partnership with Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness. 

We created this online Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness for the Aug. 1 primary. Following its conclusion, we have condensed the answers to just include those from the two candidates who will go on to the Nov. 7 general election: Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon. Scroll down to see their responses.

There are seven questions. Candidate responses are exactly as received and we have not edited them for length, typos or any other factors. The responses are grouped by question, below. You can also read their completed questionnaires here:

Jenny Durkan
Cary Moon

Many thanks to all the primary candidates who participated. To view the answers from all 12 candidates who responded to our survey, click here.

“Changing Seattle” Debate

Debate wide shot snip

The second component of our voter education project is Growing Seattle: Mayoral Candidates Debate Growth, Affordable Housing and Homelessness, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 7-8:30 p.m. at Seattle University’s Pigott Auditorium. Enrique Cerna of KCTS-TV moderated; Vernal Coleman of The Seattle Times, Heidi Groover of The Stranger and David Kroman of Crosscut posed questions.

Watch the Full Video

Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness and Solid Ground produced the event in partnership with Housing Development Consortium, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund.

Because the event sold out quickly, we worked with our media partners to create a livestream. Crosscut and The Seattle Times jointly broadcast it as a livestream on their Facebook pages, and you can now watch the full video here. Also watch the video of Firesteel’s live pre-debate show on Firesteel’s Facebook page.

Note: Because Seattle University, Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness are 501(c)(3) organizations, we are providing this information for education only and are not making endorsements. 

Voters’ Guide 

Question 1:

King County and the City of Seattle have recognized that the crises of affordability and homelessness are complex, regional issues that require regional solutions, exacerbated by the threat of potential drastic HUD funding cuts. If elected, how would you work with other regional leaders and the state and federal governments to identify, enact and implement innovative, forward-thinking solutions to decrease homelessness and increase affordability?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

As a City, we must explore working with King County to create a regional consolidation of homelessness services under one roof. This approach would reduce administrative overhead and better coordinate service delivery. We need increased drug and mental health treatment option, low barrier shelters and a system to measure outcomes for providers. With a regional approach, we also could seek Countywide funding, to address the problem of homelessness.

We need to create more housing options in this city. I will look to leverage City and regional tools and partnerships to help meet this need including seeking property tax exemptions for low-income homeowners and for landlords providing affordable housing.

In addition, I will help lead efforts to fight any cuts in federal funding. We must rally our state and local leaders to ensure Congress rejects proposed cuts by the Trump administration.

Cary Moon


We need to work at three levels to address the affordability crisis: stop the speculation overheating our market, expand affordable housing, and build the missing middle of workforce housing.

  • I will propose a tax on corporate and non-resident ownership of housing, a tax on vacant properties, and an additional REET on luxury real estate to deter speculation.
  • I will plow proceeds into the production of affordable non-profit and public housing — seeking suitable sites on surplus public land as viable and lead a regional effort to expand the state housing trust fund, and organize the philanthropic sector to focus on housing production. We can work with communities to focus new housing in neighborhoods facing the most displacement pressure.
  • I will improve our land use code and permitting process to add more housing options for multifamily infill development: community land trusts, duplexes, backyard cottages, rowhouses, co-housing, co-ops, clustered housing, and congregate housing.

Question 2:

What is your position on the policies contained in the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA)? What do you agree with? Disagree?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

I support the implementation of the HALA recommendations and will focus on the “highest impact recommendations” first. The cornerstone of HALA is the Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement (MHA). Achieving 20,000 new units of low-income housing over the next 10 years – the goal of HALA – requires the participation of the private housing development community. This program’s value was confirmed as projects that vested prior to the MHA program began requesting to opt into it. We must maximize the number of people eligible for these options and make sure both low-income and middle class housing exists in all parts of our city. We should remember that the “L” in “HALA” is “Livability”. Our overall approach must be holistic with our goal livability; neighborhoods and urban villages must have affordable housing, excellent public schools, green space and parks, and thriving small businesses all within easy walking distance to transit.

Cary Moon


HALA was a good first step, and I support the upzones and MHA requirements, but there is more to do to improve housing affordability in Seattle. Cities that have solved the escalation problem show that long-term, having a significant portion of public and nonprofit housing is an essential counterbalance to achieve stability in housing costs; we should aim to increase production four-fold. In Single Family zones we should pursue viable low-rise multifamily housing options for working people in the “missing middle” as described above, while maintaining the unique cultural character of neighborhoods. We need to both change the land use code in SF zoning to allow more types of multifamily options, and review and improve the permitting/ SEPA/ design review process to simplify entitlement for quality projects. We should implement targeted taxes to deter corporate and non-resident real estate speculation, and plow the proceeds into affordable housing production.

Question 3:

How would you balance the disagreement and anger expressed by some neighborhood residents towards increased density and affordable homes in specific areas of the city, with our unprecedented growth and need for increased housing options that must be shared equitably across the city?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

We must have more equitable development. But we cannot have effective or equitable policies without broad, meaningful, and sustained community input. How we make decisions is very important, and often can be the difference between a policy that is accepted and becomes part of the fabric of our city – or one that is rejected. We know that every part of our city will grow and become more dense. As this occurs, we need to ensure it includes both affordable and middle class homes. Density comes in many forms: from upzones to townhouses to multi-family to backyard cottages and mother-in-laws.

We also must ensure benefits of development flow equitably in the city. Some of neighborhoods have borne the burden unfairly. When planning, those most impacted in our communities must be invited to ask questions, voice their concerns, and share their wisdom.

Cary Moon


I support more flexible land use codes in all zones. We have more land allocated to Single Family zoning than in any point in our city’s history, and this limitation is problematic. The starting point is reframing the question constructively: how do we ensure our neighborhoods are welcoming to folks at all income levels and stages in life? What lower cost and multifamily housing types are a good fit with neighborhood character and culture? Invite people to be part of the solution, helping tackle the affordability crisis together, working toward a future city that is inclusive and diverse. We must make a broader range of low rise multifamily housing forms more viable and increase the range of housing types being built. We also must revise the Condo Act to rebalance liability risks; the dearth of new condominiums is further limiting the supply of starter homes.

Question 4:

Did you vote for the Seattle Housing Levy in 2016? Why or why not? What kind of funding mechanism do you believe is best to generate money for housing and homelessness services?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

Yes, I did vote for the Seattle Housing Levy in 2016 as well as the previous levies. Affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges facing Seattle and the approach of the 2016 levy – producing and preserving affordable housing, assisting low-income homeowners and providing emergency rental assistance – is a critical part of the solution.

We also have to explore both public housing investments and greater public-private partnerships to address the critical need for low income housing.

I support the Mandatory Housing Affordability program. There is no way we can achieve 20,000 new units of low-income housing over the next 10 years without the participation of the private housing development community.

We need to make sure we are funding the policies that yield the best outcomes. I will make sure that all taxpayer funds are spent effectively and efficiently, especially when it comes to housing and homelessness services.

Cary Moon


Yes, I proudly voted for the housing levy. We must address root causes of the surge in homelessness to get ahead of the problem; our housing affordability crisis, defunding of behavioral health and addiction services, and the difficulty securing stable employment are all contributing.

We need to assess the duplication of efforts and inefficiencies in our system, and collaborate across agencies and service providers to optimize the most effective solutions. I would work to find efficiencies with the existing budget, focus on solving the problem upstream, and focus philanthropists on funding the most effective solutions. And I would implement targeted taxes or other mechanisms to deter corporate and non resident real estate speculation to fund affordable housing.

Question 5:

Given that half the residents of Seattle are renters, what tenant protections — above and beyond what the city has already done — would you push to enact to ensure that potential tenants are being treated equitably?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

First and foremost, we must ensure that renters are at the table when we discuss housing policy and issues of growth and density. We must bring more of their voices into City Hall. I support a stronger, direct voice like the new Renter’s Commission that was formed. We also must have policies to ensure that we enforce discrimination laws and that we break down the barriers that prevent people who have experienced homelessness and or who have criminal records from obtaining housing.

Cary Moon


We need to increase tenants’ rights to provide stability and protections to renters. The Seattle Renters Commission is a good first step, but we can do more to empower the voice of renters. We need to create a Renters Bill of Rights, where we lay out equitable standards that renters can expect. We need to set up legal assistance for low income people facing code violations, disputes, and the threat of eviction. We need to fund enforcement for renter protections. We need to identify better methods to prevent evictions of families with children and safeguard transitional housing for families and victims of domestic violence. We need to examine best practices for rent stabilization across the world, and figure out how to make it work in Seattle. And fundamentally, we need to exponentially expand affordable housing from only 6% of Seattle’s housing market toward a goal of four times this share.

Question 6:

Virtually every city in Washington has responded to the growing homelessness crisis by criminalizing behaviors such as sitting, lying or sleeping in public. If elected, (a) will you work to repeal and/or mitigate the impacts of ordinances that criminalize homelessness in Seattle, and (b) will you oppose attempts to introduce such ordinances?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

Yes, I absolutely and unequivocally reject policies that criminalize homelessness. Housing is a human right, and I believe in housing first. We must not infringe upon people’s civil rights, and must do all that we can to avoid worsening the trauma of those experiencing homelessness. The best way to do this is to provide them, as quickly as possible, with the services they need based on their individual situation. The strategies we need to pursue must be focused on mental health and substance abuse treatment, low-barrier shelters, and ultimately long-term housing. People experiencing homelessness are our neighbors and are disproportionately people of color, those who identify as LGBTQ (especially among the youth population), and have a history of domestic violence abuse or experience with foster care. We must approach this issue with compassion, and help get people off the streets and into safe housing, not criminalize them.

Cary Moon


Yes. Poverty is not a crime, and we must vigilantly protect the human rights of the poor and vulnerable as we work to offer suitable shelter to our houseless neighbors. We need to address root causes of our homelessness surge to get ahead of this problem and collaborate across agencies to find the most effective solutions to help people back into secure housing.

As mayor I will:

  • Prioritize long-term supportive housing options and housing first approaches.
  • Provide more low-barrier shelters that allow the right mix of options to match needs, like allowing pets and enabling couples to stay together.
  • Address the immediate need for emergency shelter with temporary solutions like more self-governed tiny house villages hosted by churches and neighborhoods as we get more lasting solutions moving.
  • Expand shelters for victims of domestic violence that are essential to their survival.
  • Invest in treatment for mental health, drug and alcohol dependency.

Question 7:

The recent tragic killing of Charleena Lyles highlights the issues of police accountability and the intersecting systems of care in our community whose failures led to her death, including housing, mental health, child welfare, justice and more. How would you address the failure of these systems to work together?

Jenny Durkan

Jenny Durkan

The recent shooting of Charleena Lyles is a tragic reminder that police reform is never done; progress requires constant and urgent evaluation of what we can do better. We failed Ms. Lyles before the police got to her door. We must better align our systems – health care, mental health, children and family services, courts and housing – to help people in a holistic fashion.

As US Attorney, I led efforts to begin police reform in Seattle and as mayor, I will continue implementing reforms – particularly in the areas of de-escalation and crisis intervention. Under these reforms, progress has been made. But we also know that community trust can be earned or lost with every officer interaction. We must keep pushing and evaluating if policies, training and oversight are working in practice and to make sure the community has a voice in that process.

Cary Moon


I am feeling anger, rage, and grief at the tragic killing of Charleena Lyles. She needed help, and our systems failed her again and again. As a black mom of four experiencing the toxic stress of poverty, housing insecurity, domestic violence, fear of losing her kids, and suffering a mental health crisis, Charleena urgently needed the best care we could provide. But because we as a society have drained our funding for mental health care and social services, we had little to offer her.

As Mayor, I will redouble our commitment to do the transformative work to root out systemic racism, systemic wealth inequality, and ongoing societal injustice towards people of color. And work with progressive leaders across the state to build public will for progressive tax reform. We need sufficient revenue to fund the services we all know are essential to helping struggling neighbors get back on their feet.

2 thoughts on “Durkan and Moon: Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness

  1. Pingback: Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness — 2017 Seattle Mayoral Race (Primary Election)

  2. Pingback: Seattle Candidate Forums, Fall 2017

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