One program listed in Mayor Ed Murray’s budget this year will get additional funding, or it will be cut, depending on who you ask.
The Low Income Housing Institute’s (LIHI) Urban Rest Stop provides showers and washing machines for homeless people at a storefront on Cherry Street. The program is slated to receive $416,000 in the mayor’s budget this year.
The funding includes money to make up for a loss of funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to the mayor’s office.
LIHI Executive Director Sharon Lee said the city provided about $600,000 last year for Urban Rest Stop, an amount that made up for almost $400,000 in federal cuts. In comparison, the mayor’s current proposal of $416,000 for the program amounts to a budget loss that would force the program to cut evening and weekend hours, she said.
Lee and the mayor’s office disagree on the nature of the federal cuts.
Lee said the city and LIHI planned for the cuts. Under the administration of former Mayor Mike McGinn in 2013, the city removed a request for funding for the Urban Rest Stop and the King County Sobering Center from a HUD grant application. HUD was focused on housing at the time.
“It was a political, strategic decision,” Lee told the Seattle City Council at a budget hearing Oct. 8.
Lee said she agreed to remove funding for the Urban Rest Stop from the grant application with the understanding the city would fully fund the program in the future.
A spokesperson with Murray’s office said the city agreed to fully fund the program for the first year but taper off the additional funding in later years.
Lee appealed to the city council to reinstate the funding. Councilmember Sally Clark, chair of the Housing Affordability, Human Services and Economic Resiliency Committee, said she has not been able to determine the exact nature of the agreement. She noted that the loss poses a challenge for LIHI and the Urban Rest Stop.
“That’s a lot of money [$198,000] for LIHI to come up with,” Clark said.