Amidst Unprecedented and Historic Challenges, Mayor Durkan Announces 2021 Budget

Commits to New $100 Million for Investments in BIPOC Communities

Seattle (September 29, 2020) – Amidst unprecedented and historic challenges, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan transmitted the 2021 budget today. While the City faces significant revenue shortfalls and challenges, the 2021 budget continues COVID-19 relief funding, invests over $100 million in BIPOC communities, adds funding to address the homelessness and housing crises and takes key steps to reimagine Seattle Police Department. The Mayor delivered her budget address digitally and it can be viewed here.

“A budget is a reflection of our priorities and values. With the pandemic and unexpected new emergencies, like the West Seattle Bridge, wildfire smoke and collapsing piers we can’t avoid hard choices in this budget. But even in a time of tough decisions, history demands that we meet the challenges of this moment and strive for the kind of city we want to be when we come out of these crisis: Stronger, more just, and more equitable. In June, I committed to building for the first time ever build a budget around $100 million historic investment in Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities. Even in this challenging time, I deeply believed we needed to refocus our budget our the City’s priorities: preserving city services, continuing to invest in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic; making the City’s largest-ever investment in racial equity and justice; addressing our homelessness and housing crisis; and building true community safety while also re-imagining policing. To balance all of these challenges at this historic moment, we are using all the City resources available to make a budget that invest in equity.”

As recently announced, the new $100 million Equitable Communities Fund will be devoted to addressing systemic racial inequities in our city. This proposed funding for 2021 is in addition to existing programs that are crucial to building opportunities and community health. Mayor Durkan also announced that a community-led task force will make recommendations for these $100 million in investments. Together, the task force will work with communities in a collaborative process to focus investments in Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities.

This week, Mayor Durkan will announce a series of new actions as it relates to her plans to reimagine policing, investing in community safety, and addressing homelessness, which are reflected in her proposed 2021 budget. Across the budget, there are a series of new programs that the Mayor is proposing for community safety and community health including Health One, a new prenatal grant program and community court.

The 2021 proposed budget funds the expansion of the City’s pioneering Health One program – a Seattle Fire Department and Human Services Department partnership that’s a cornerstone of the City’s award winning Mobile Integrated Health program. Health One’s dispatch response model links the City’s most vulnerable individuals with appropriate healthcare, behavioral health services, and social service providers. After initially deploying in the downtown core, Pioneer Square, Belltown and Capitol Hill service area, as part of COVID response the model significantly expanded their geographical range to include SODO, Mount Baker, Rainier Valley, the University District, Ballard and West Seattle. Nearly 500 clients have been served since April 1, half of which were reported to be experiencing homelessness. Since serving these additional neighborhoods, Health One helped divert 75 percent of clients from the emergency room while freeing SFD for critical emergencies. The additional funding Mayor Durkan has proposed will allow staffing for another Health One unit, including a dedicated vehicle staffed with two firefighter/EMTs and an HSD social worker supporting people with diverse needs, and for the expansion to continue long-term. 

The Mayor’s budget also adds Sweetened Beverage Tax funding of $1.5 million for a new prenatal to 3-year-old grant program for community-based organizations. The Department of Education and Early Learning will work closely King County Best Starts for Kids to develop the grant program, which is intended to reduce the disparities for children and families based on race, gender, or income and improve kindergarten readiness. 

The 2021 budget also invests $100,000 in the Seattle Community Court, a pretrial release program which aims to reduce incarceration and rapidly resolve low-level, non-violent cases by connecting participants to community resources and providing valuable service to local communities. The Seattle Community Court uses harm reduction principles to help participants exit the criminal legal system, while also reducing racial disproportionality by ensuring that all individuals charged with low-level misdemeanors, regardless of criminal history, will be eligible to participate in the program. 

You can view the Mayor’s 2021 Proposed Budget at: www.seattle.gov/budget