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The top challenge our City faces is the crisis of affordability and homelessness. It is also a regional crisis that demands regional solutions because no problem stops at the city limits.

But a key component has been missing from our strategy: a truly coordinated, regional response across Seattle and King County. 

That’s why on my third day in office, I joined with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus to announce the creation of One Table, a new effort to bring together local government, service providers, business leaders, philanthropy, advocates, people with lived experience of homelessness, and residents to develop innovative solutions to the homelessness crisis.

Conversations with One Table members have focused on a key component: our fractured response across City and County agencies. Until now, the oversight of homelessness services in our City and region has been divided among several separate City- and County-level governance structures, which has created several problems. For example, Seattle manages an extensive emergency shelter program, but the County manages all behavioral health programs.

With a worsening crisis, we need one consolidated system that has the governance, authority, and resources to address the challenge. This is why I signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday with Executive Constantine to move our City and region toward a more coordinated, effective, and systematic effort to address our homelessness crisis. While we’ve already been cooperating for several years, this agreement allows us to further harmonize our investments, better share data, deliver services as effectively as possible, and examine a new governance structure.

As stewards of taxpayer dollars, the City of Seattle has a responsibility to ensure our homeless investments are making the biggest impact. This new approach to regional governance will ensure our investments are yielding the best outcomes for people experiencing homelessness and those who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Please continue to write me at Jenny.Durkan@seattle.gov, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.

Sincerely,

Mayor Jenny Durkan

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A Safer Summer in South Park

On Thursday, Mayor Durkan visited South Park, toured local small businesses, and then held a roundtable discussion with members of the community to discuss the steps the City of Seattle has taken to refocus its efforts on South Park, and to improve public safety and build opportunity for young people in the neighborhood.

To find out more information on the above programs, including points of contact or application processes, please click here.

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Honoring Mount Zion Baptist Church

On Tuesday, Mayor Durkan honored Mount Zion Baptist Church and its contributions to Seattle by transmitting legislation asking the City Council to formally recognize it as a protected landmark.

Established as a permanent place of worship in 1920, Mount Zion Baptist Church played a prominent role in Seattle’s Civil Rights movement and has been a center of life for Seattle’s African American community. Commemorating Mount Zion Baptist Church as a landmark in the Central District reinforces the history of this neighborhood as a place where many African American families first put down roots in Seattle.

The church itself owes much of its current prominence to the late Rev. Samuel B. McKinney, who was pastor there for over 40 years. The Rev. Samuel B. McKinney passed away just last month at 91. We can think of no better way to honor his memory and the contributions of the Mount Zion Baptist Church to the African American community in our City than to commemorate this institution as a permanent landmark in Seattle.

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Welcoming Judge Faye Chess to the Seattle Municipal Court

This week, Judge Faye Chess was appointed to the Seattle Municipal Court. Following Judge Karen Donohue’s appointment to King County Superior Court, Magistrate Judge Chess will fill the unexpired judicial term, which ends December 31, 2018. Magistrate Judge Chess was appointed by the elected judges to her position with the Seattle Municipal Court.

“As someone who has been a practicing lawyer and a Magistrate Judge, Judge Chess brings an impressive depth of judicial experience to the Seattle Municipal Court. Her dedication to public service and decades of experience will serve our community well,” said Mayor Durkan. “She is also committed to reforming our criminal justice system to make it more just and accountable for all.”

Prior to her arrival at the Seattle Municipal Court, she served as a Judge Pro Tempore in King County District Court for over twenty-two years. For many years, she worked in the public education sector, first as Deputy General Counsel and Interim Executive Director of Human Resources for Seattle Public Schools specializing in employment and labor, special education, and student disability plans and later as the Executive Director of Human Resources and General Counsel for Tukwila School District

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