Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness — 2017 Seattle Mayoral Race


To help Seattle voters make the important choice of how to vote for our next mayor, we’re partnering with Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness on a 2017 voter education project.

We created this online Voters’ Guide on Housing and Homelessness for the Aug. 1 primary, using the results of our Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire on Housing and Homelessness. Our methodology:

  • Our organizations developed potential questions and vetted them as a group.
  • We emailed the questionnaire June 30, 2017 to all 21 candidates for Seattle mayor, with a deadline of Thursday, July 13 at 5 p.m.
  • 10 of the candidates returned their questionnaire by the deadline: Gary Brose, Casey Carlisle, Jessyn Farrell, Bob Hasegawa, Lewis A. Jones, Mike McGinn, Cary Moon, James W. Norton Jr., Nikkita Oliver and Jason Roberts.
  • In addition:
    • One candidate submitted her questionnaire after the deadline: Tiniell Cato, 6 p.m. July 13. One candidate submitted a revised questionnaire after the deadline: Nikkita Oliver, 7:16 p.m. July 13. We have included these as well.
    • One candidate, Jenny Durkan, contacted us before the deadline and asked us to accept her questionnaire late. We agreed to a deadline of 5 p.m. Friday, July 14. UPDATE, Monday, July 17, 12:30 p.m.: The candidate’s responses and questionnaire are now posted below.
    • No other candidates contacted us to request we accept a late submission.
  • Four candidates expressed interest in participating but did not submit a questionnaire: Greg Hamilton, Michael Harris, Mary Martin and Larry Oberto.
  • Five candidates did not respond despite numerous attempts to contact them: Thom Gunn, Dave Kane, Harley Lever, Alex Tsimerman and Keith Whiteman.

We created this Voters’ Guide just in time to help you fill out your ballot, which King County Elections mailed July 12. Note: Because we are 501(c)(3) organizations, we are providing this information for education only and are not making endorsements.

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. You can also see the full completed questionnaires, with candidate contact information, at the end.

Many thanks to the candidates who participated.

Save the Date: Post-Primary Candidate Forum on Housing and Homelessness, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. at Seattle University. 

Jump to:

Question 1: Decreasing homelessness and increasing affordability
Question 2: HALA — agree? disagree? Why and how?
Question 3: Neighborhood input on density and affordability
Question 4: Seattle Housing Levy and how best to fund housing and homelessness services
Question 5: Protections for renters, who comprise half of Seattle’s population
Question 6: The criminalization of homelessness
Question 7: How to correct the systems failure that led to the death of Charleena Lyles

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?

Gary Brose

Brose_Gary edit

My first step would be to meet with the organizations already in place to hear first-hand what ideas they have for assisting the disadvantaged rapidly and equitably. Then I would make every attempt to reach rapid agreement with the mayors of surrounding communities to pool our resources and minimize overhead as we attempt to work together to create a faster moving system of assisting the homeless find short and long-term shelter. I strongly believe we have to work with the shelters already in place and assist them in providing the services needed. Increasing counselors who can interview individuals and rapidly assign a course of action for each one could help to move everyone through the systems more quickly. Keeping our staffs lean through combining overheads will help us to insure that more money goes directly to solving the homelessness issues rather than to bloated bureaucracies.

Casey Carlisle


King County and the City of Seattle, by way of their delusional, “progressive” policies, have created these crises, and these crises have been very lucrative for those governments.  The mayor should work only with the city and county governments, not with the state and federal governments. City Hall is largely to blame for Seattle’s cost of living and homelessness problems.  If City Hall focused only on the city by focusing only on the basics – public safety, water, electricity, and roads – City Hall would need far less tax revenue, and the cost of living wouldn’t be so high.  Regarding homelessness, the City is aiding and abetting homelessness.  The Homelessness Industrial Complex is alive and well in Seattle.  $60M will be spent on homelessness this year, but that money only enriches the NGOs that thrive on homelessness.  $60M equates to over $19k per homeless person, but the homeless don’t see that money.

 Tiniell Cato


As you know, Seattle Washington is an upcoming powerhouse for small businesses, non-profit organizations, and holistic wellness centers for children and adults. As a business owner, I found that you’re only as strong as our weakest link, which is our homelessness in the City.

The mission right now: is to unite all regional, state and federal government to discuss how we can merge our influences together to build an inner circle of leaders that will create the foundation for the powerhouse which in turn will create more traffic coming to and from Seattle Washington.

This economic growth and development will create addition revenue to fund solutions to decrease homelessness and increase affordability. And create jobs & resources, income, medical, education, transportation crisis etc. for all people who the community lacks today.

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.

*Durkan’s questionnaire was submitted 24 hours after the deadline. We agreed to accept it in the spirit of informing voters.

Jessyn Farrell


I’ve been a state legislator and have worked at the executive level in a county transit authority, so I understand how to work with multiple levels of government. I have developed relationships in Olympia as well as in Seattle and King County that will allow me to take the lead in formulating and implementing regional solutions. In the 2016 legislative authorization of Sound Transit, I secured landmark requirements for affordable housing near light rail. This will be a crucial tool in solving the problem long term. Ultimately, we need to pull together as a region to focus on increasing the supply of affordable housing through all available means, and I’m the candidate with the skills to do that.

Bob Hasegawa


Seattle is not alone when it comes to addressing the joint crisis of affordability and homelessness. This year during the annual count of the homeless in King County, more than 11,600 people were tallied in this year’s point-in-time count — with 5,485 of them found to be living on the streets, in motor vehicles and tent encampments. Also, according to a survey conducted as part of the count, 40 percent of the 1,131 people surveyed reported becoming homeless at some point in the last three years. This is reflective of the overall state of affairs in the county. We need to do a better job of addressing homelessness and affordability in the region, and as mayor I would meet with other mayors and leaders to find ways in which we can work together to address these issues.

Lewis A. Jones

Lewis Jones

With the future in mind, we emphasize the importance of the uneducated to practice savings and with bank cooperation access to forming an account with a small deposit. Transitional housing for families and females.  Immediate rentals with city funds.  Storage of belongings, mail stops, answering service for jobs, a place to stay dry, for those yet out.  With the CCC-type approach from the Depression era, sanitary houses for washing clothes, showers, wherein the homeless themselves work to keep these places clean, and pay low rent, or work for housing. I will fight homelessness with a prosperity (see the following)

Mike McGinn

McGinn Headshot Voter Guide

As mayor from 2010-13 I enjoyed strong working relationships with other mayors, as well as the King County Executive, because we met regularly and listened to each other. I led regional coalitions on new funding approaches for local streets, as well as opposing coal and oil trains. If elected, I would partner with other regional leaders to convene a working group on how to decrease homelessness and increase affordability. That would mean setting goals and building support for regional funding options as well as land use reforms to make housing more affordable. Statewide, we should restart the conversation around tax reform a way to increase affordability, diversify revenue streams, and reduce our reliance on regressive taxes.  We cannot rely on the federal government to address our homelessness and affordability.

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.

James Norton Jr.

Linda Brooks Photography

As far as homelessness we need to identify what each person suffers from in order to properly treat or provide care for them. There is a huge difference between someone who is homeless and wants to be left alone to a homeless person on hard time, mentally ill and substance abuse. Our current city government doesn’t understand and lumps them altogether.
Affordability and low income affordability are 2 different things. Low income housing does need to increase and I believe there has to a drastic criteria change for those qualified. I have seen too many people who earn to high of an income to qualify yet still need assistance. These people eventually become part of the problem as they slip into the working poor category. I would like to work with our state housing departments to determine a better evaluation process for those who might be qualified and benefit from more housing.

Nikkita Oliver


Seattle’s homelessness crisis goes hand in hand with the lack of affordable housing options in our city. Seattle has tremendous amounts of development yet very little of it actually meets the needs of our residents. I will push for the development of truly affordable housing by 1) redefining “affordability,” 2) holding developers accountable to provide 25% mandatory affordable housing, 3) leveraging Seattle’s bonding capacity to build city-owned public housing units, 4) re-assess the current budget/divert funds to our immediate needs, and 5) address the issue of speculative capital.

We Will Also:
1) increase the number of low-barrier shelters and shelters, 2) building housing options that incorporate wrap around services, 3) address the current opioid crisis as a public health issue, 4) work closely with King County and cities in our region to develop a regional plan for quality affordable housing.

Jason Roberts


Housing affordability is defined by the area median income. The AMI is calculated by HUD based on census data. Our regional wage disparity has inflated the AMI to proportions that do not reflect what the average worker earns, hence unrealistic and unaffordable pricing models exist in our housing market. I would like to work with HUD and our state legislators to factor the AMI based on what the average worker earns, not the sum average of all earned wages in the region. Currently the AMI is near 80k per year, I believe a more accurate number would be around 40 to 50k.

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Seattle Mayoral Candidate Forums in July


Vote Dog Buzzfeed enhanced-buzz-8457-1372697855-23
We don’t have a dog in this fight. We just want you to vote! Image from Buzzfeed.


Seattle voters: Still trying to decide who to vote for in the mayoral race? Here’s a list of some candidate forums (fora?) coming up before the Aug. 1 primary. Be sure to ask these candidates about their housing and homelessness platforms!

UPDATE JULY 16: Check out our Voters’ Guide on Housing & Homelessness, published in partnership with Solid Ground, Housing Development Consortium and Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness.


July 8 (Saturday) Seattle Neighborhood Coalition forum, part 2, 9-11 a.m. at Central Area Senior Center. With the other three of the “Top 6” — Moon, McGinn, Hasegawa (first forum was June 10).


July 10 (Monday) – Seattle Youth Mayoral Candidate Forum, hosted by Seattle Young People’s Project. 6-8 p.m. Black Power Epicenter, 6218 Beacon Ave S. Ages 22 and under invited. Candidates: Cary Moon, Mary Martin, Nikkita Oliver, Harley Lever, Gary Brose, Jenny Durkan*, Mike McGinn*. *apparently tentative


July 11 (Tuesday)Candidate Survivor, hosted by The Stranger, partnering with Washington Bus. 8 p.m. at Neumo’s. “Top 6” candidates plus Greg Hamilton and Jason Roberts (chosen by poll).


July 13 (Thursday) – Seattle Mayoral Forum, hosted by Allied Arts & Forterra. Doors open 6 p.m., event 7-9 p.m., Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center. Top 6 invited. Enrique Cerna moderating.


July 15 (Saturday)CIRCC Mayoral Candidates Forum, hosted by Coalition of Immigrants Refugees and Communities of Color, at Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. No indication as of July 7 as to which candidates are attending.


July 17 (Monday)Seattle Mayoral Debate, hosted by KING, KUOW, Geekwire and City Club, 6:30-8 p.m., Impact Hub. “Top 6” candidates. Ross Reynolds and Natalie Brand moderating. Top 6 invited. KING and KUOW will air live, and Geekwire will livestream.


July 18 (Tuesday)Candidate Forum, hosted by Eastlake Community Council. 7-9:30 p.m., Pocock Rowing Center, 3320 Fuhrman Ave. Candidates for mayor plus District 8 & 9 City Council. Submit questions to


July 19 (Wednesday)Queering Politics Candidate Forum, hosted by LGBTQ Allyship, Southside Commons, 6-9 p.m. With mayoral candidates Nikkita Oliver, Bob Hasegawa, Jenny Durkan, Jessyn Farrell, Mike McGinn, Cary Moon, Jason Roberts, and Alex Tsimerman. Also attending are select Position 8 & 9 candidates. Nicole Keenan, executive director of the Fair Work Center, will moderate.


July 20 (Thursday)Dark Horse Mayoral Forum, 6-9 p.m., Box House, 124 S. Washington St. Hosted by “dark horse” Jason Roberts. With mayoral candidates Casey Carlisle, Greg Hamilton, Michael Harris, Harley Lever, James Norton and Jason Roberts.

Any others? Please send them to Thanks!

Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2017 Edition — Part Two, the Hellos

Tess Madison Katie


A few weeks ago, we said goodbye to our wonderful project team from the 2016-17 school year. Now comes the “happy” part — welcoming a new team of Seattle U students. Say hello to three new project assistants, all with different backgrounds but a common desire to make a difference in the work to end family homelessness.


Tess Riski, Project Assistant

Tess Riski headshot

A rising senior double-majoring in Journalism and Teaching for the Humanities, Tess Riski joined us in mid-June 2017. After some orientation and training, she quickly jumped into our busy summer.

On her first official day in the office, she wrote about what she learned during #SeaHomeless, the day of concerted reporting on homelessness by 20 different local media organizations. She’s also helping us with our collaboration on a voter education project about Seattle’s mayoral election with housing and homelessness partners, including an online voters’ guide and the fall candidate forum.

Finally, she’ll be helping us prepare for the upcoming project with Pongo Teen Writing and Schoolhouse Washington, before doing a study abroad this fall.

You can read more about her here. Welcome, Tess!


Madison Vucci, Digital Design Project Assistant

Madison Vucci photo

Senior Madison Vucci is the fifth Digital Design student to serve on our team. When she joins us in mid-July, we’ll draw upon her design skills to help promote the voter education project and the Pongo project.

Madison says an early understanding of inequality in America is the root of what pushed her to make an impact on society with her art.

Digital Design Prof. Naomi Kasumi, who every year recommends the design student she feels is the best fit for our project, connected us to Madison. Prof. Kasumi first introduced us to Madison’s work by showing Catherine one of her class projects — a phenomenally creative and highly functional civil rights tool that maybe Madison can share more about sometime. Thank you, Prof. Kasumi, for yet again sending a great design student our way.

Check out Madison’s background here. Welcome, Madison!


Katie Bradley, Project Assistant

Katie Bradley2

This fall, Katie Bradley will join our team after a summer internship at Amazon. Katie is a senior double-majoring in Strategic Communications and Public Affairs, which means her education straddles both our previous home in Communications and our current home in the Institute of Public Service.

Katie also works as a resident assistant in one of the SU residence halls and serves as executive vice president of SU American Marketing Association. She learned about our project from her friend and fellow Strat Comm major, our just-graduated project assistant Shan Yonamine. (Thanks, Shan!)

When she’s officially on campus this fall, we’ll ask her to write her bio. Till then, we await her arrival with great anticipation. Welcome, Katie!



Flashback: Revisit some of our previous project teams:

We’ve had many more awesome students on our team — most recently, Haley, Krista, Paige and Emma — and apparently we didn’t do a tribute to all of them because they graduated at different times during the year. You can see some of their great work by entering their names in the search box below.






What I Learned About Family & Youth Homelessness from #SeaHomeless

Tess Riski headshot

By Tess Riski, Project Assistant, Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

Editor’s Note: Seattle University Journalism and Teaching for Humanities rising senior Tess Riski recently joined our project team. This is her first post for our project. Read more about her here.


All day this past Wednesday, June 28, a host of Seattle media outlets participated in #SeaHomeless and concentrated their reporting on a group of people often kept in the shadows of mainstream news coverage: those experiencing homelessness.

I just started my position as Project Assistant at the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness, and this last week has been an intense learning process for me. Continue reading

Happy Hellos and Hard Goodbyes, 2017 Edition — Part One



Team 2016-17
Our 2016-17 SU student team, L-R: Khadija, Mandy and Shan, happy to be days away from graduating.


By Catherine Hinrichsen, Project Director, Project on Family Homelessness


The annual tradition of saying goodbye to our graduating student team never gets easier. But here we are again, celebrating the reason why our project remains strong: We choose a team of outstanding student assistants each year, and we get to watch them change the world while they’re still in school. Then it comes time to let go. Continue reading

“Designing for Social Change” — Mandy’s Reflection

By Mandy Rusch, Digital Design Project Assistant 2016-17


Photo Mandy working on pamphlet
Me hand-folding the pamphlets I designed for Renters’ Rights 101 in May.


What I’m proudest of

I am proudest of the All Home Infographic reporting on this year’s Count Us In data. When I was first brought on as the design assistant here, my supervisor, Catherine, showed me Amy Phung’s One Night Count infographic from 2016 as an example of the type of projects I would be working on. I remember how excited I was about the scope and impact of her work, especially when I heard that it had been used to advocate for policy change.

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“My Dream” — Khadija’s Reflection

By Khadija Diallo, Project Assistant, 2016-17



Me at the beginning of the year.


For the past year, I have had the pleasure of working on the Project on Family Homelessness as a project assistant. It was my dream to be part of the project from the minute I heard about it. I wanted to start using my Strategic Communications skills for good and I knew I could have an impact on my community if I worked on this important Project.

I’m happy to say that I was right. Continue reading

“Helping People Comes First” – Shan’s Reflection

By Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant 2016-2017


One of my favorite memories as a project assistant was attending Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day in February.

As my time as a project assistant comes to a close, I can’t help but look back at when I started on the project last summer. I recall looking through our blog and seeing all the posts, events and infographics created by previous project assistants and I was filled with wonder and excitement. I was excited to work on a project that produced such amazing work, but I wondered if I would be able to do the same. One year later, I am happy to say that I have. Continue reading

“Power in Constituents” — Renters’ Rights 101, SU’s Affordable Housing Week Event


Edited by Shan Yonamine, Project Assistant, Project on Family Homelessness

Note: For the second year in a row, our student assistants planned a campus event in support of Affordable Housing Week in King County, May 15-22. This year’s team — Khadija Diallo, Mandy Rusch and Shan Yonamine — decided to focus on “Renters’ Rights 101.” Afterward, they reflected on what worked well, what could be improved, what surprised them and what they learned.

The purpose of Renters’ Rights 101 was to give attendees a “crash course” in rental laws and best practices so that they would feel more prepared to navigate the Seattle rental market. Our target audience was students, new renters and soon-to-be renters in the greater Seattle area.


AHW RR101 Poster
Our digital design assistant, Mandy, created this graphic of a fist grasping a key as part of the branding for our event.


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Mental Illness — What About the Family?

Mental health head
Credit:  A United Methodist Board of Church and Society web-only graphic by Michelle Whittaker.

By Khadija Diallo, Project Assistant, Project on Family Homelessness

Kianna is 17 years old. She suspects that she has depression. She only recently started experiencing symptoms of her mental illness, so she’s having a hard time adjusting.  To complicate her situation, she’s homeless along with the rest of her family. Her parents lost their jobs in January and could no longer afford rent. They ended up having to move from shelter to shelter. Continue reading