As I meet with and listen to people across my district and throughout the city, the homelessness crisis is at the forefront of our conversations and concerns. Despite the best intentions of many, and many millions of dollars invested, it seems we are in a state of paralysis when it comes to this crisis.  As a physician who has worked with vulnerable populations for much of my career, I know there is no simple diagnostic or policy solution to this extremely complex problem.

 

Homelessness is the result of a multitude of factors. Abuse, significant adverse experiences, trauma either in childhood or adulthood, inadequate treatment of mental health problems, lack of strong family or support systems, addiction, job loss, unaffordable housing, and poverty are among the most common and interrelated contributors to homelessness. Because this is a complex crisis, it requires intentional interventions, at multiple levels, over time, for us to make headway. However, unsheltered individuals ‘left alone’ on the streets, in their vehicles, or in encampments is not acceptable. It is our moral obligation to do more.

 

The Seattle City Council must take a bold leadership role to address the worsening homelessness crisis.  Here are the foundations of my vision for changing our approach and prioritizing our response:

  1. We need to make more stable, permanent, and supportive housing available for the chronically homeless on our streets, many with mental health or addiction challenges. Research and our direct experience show that the most cost effective and sensible approach is to provide permanent supportive housing, like that provided by Plymouth Housing and DESC.

 

  1. To build more supportive housing, let’s get creative to lower costs. For example, the city government should consider waiving building permit fees, expediting siting decisions, and persuading the state legislature to waive the sales tax on new construction for facilities serving the chronically homeless. These simple steps could erase millions of dollars in costs and get this specialty housing built faster

 

  1. We need to better coordinate and organize our efforts around homelessness. There are currently multiple city agencies, County programs, and contracted community organizations, working on this crisis. Yet our own City Auditor indicates there are gaps, opportunities, and that we should be studying and learning from practices in other cities and jurisdictions. The Mayor and County Executive have proposed reengineering our overall response to homelessness to introduce more efficiencies and effectiveness and these efforts should be quickly implemented.

 

  1. Finally, we must more directly engage with individuals, including the unsheltered, who participate in criminal behaviors damaging to themselves and our community. Let’s be very clear, criminal behavior that threatens or harms others is not acceptable. No one in our city should have to live with the fear that they will be assaulted, or that their home will be broken into, or their car vandalized or stolen. Our attention must be focused on violent and repeat offenders. King County has led reforms in prosecution and sentencing that avoids traditional and ineffective jail time for mentally ill or addicted offenders. Yet the small number of violent and repeat offenders creating the majority of public safety threats are too often returned to the street without treatment, only to commit additional crimes. Our justice system needs to fairly and compassionately address these individuals, including intense mental health and addiction treatment when needed, while also protecting our neighborhoods from continuing criminal behavior.

 

Some people have asked me about the program done by KOMO recently.  Friends, Seattle is not dying.   Our city has a crisis that is leading to higher rates of homelessness, which is driven by many factors.  This is visible to us every day.  But this community can, and must, modify and improve our collective efforts, so we will all begin to see, realize, and feel progress being made. (Seattle is splitting, not dying – Real Change News)

 

And one of the worst things we can do is to stoke fear, and incorrectly and inaccurately portray one of our neighbors, without his consent, as homeless and ‘in distress, suffering’ when indeed he may be one of the examples of a success story in getting stable, permanent housing for the unsheltered in Seattle. (Man used as proof that ‘Seattle Is Dying’ tells his story – Crosscut)

 

Protecting human rights, while protecting the public health and the safety of our entire community, can be achieved in Seattle. We cannot have an ‘us vs them’ mentality, and it’s not just ‘up to the city’ to address the underlying causes of homelessness. It will take honest dialogue, financial investments, utilizing actual data, and real partnerships to make improvement.  There are many things we are currently doing well to address this issue, and these need continued support, and potential expansion.  And we must remember, this is a community-wide problem, and we will need to employ community-wide solutions.

 

Every day we look for easy answers, or point fingers and fail to collaborate, we are neglecting the needs of those who need help most—and the people of our region who deserve leadership on this crisis.  I have lived my life believing in the goodness of the human spirit, and in human potential.  I know that the innovative, compassionate, progressive city where I have lived and worked my entire life can make significant improvements in addressing homelessness, and can continue to make us all proud of our city.

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2 months ago

Jay For Seattle

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday we received the election results in our campaign for Seattle City Council, and unfortunately, it seems clear that we will not be moving on to the General Election.

I want to thank each and every one of you for your tremendous support, and I hope in the next few months I’ll get to thank many of you in-person. This has been an amazing and enjoyable experience for me. I learned so much and am so proud of the campaign we ran.

Last November Joelle and I took a walk in the neighborhood, and as we walked we passed by the homes of our friends -- our son’s preschool teacher, a roommate from UW, a family whose kids I coached in basketball, and patients who we have cared for over nearly the past three decades around Seattle. I asked Joelle what she thought about me running for Seattle City Council. Any of you who know Joelle know she isn’t one to beat around the bush -- she tells it to you straight. She said, “Jay, this is perfect for you. Your entire life has arced towards you doing this. Our city needs you!”

When I asked Joelle if I should run, I was thinking of our friends. My mind went to our son’s teachers who are overworked and underpaid but still give our children an excellent education, to the new UW alums who want to live in the community where they grew up but can’t afford Seattle’s rent prices, and our patients who can’t get access to addiction and mental health treatment.

Today my mind goes to them again. While I won’t be the one representing them on the City Council, I’m proud of the work we all did putting those issues at the forefront of this election and rallying folks around a compassionate, collaborative, vision for Seattle.

It was nothing but a privilege to take this journey with you all--for your encouragement, and volunteering with canvassing, making phone calls, hosting house parties, for spreading the word about our campaign in your neighborhood conversations and over social media, for your tens of thousands of dollars of contributions and democracy vouchers--the words ‘thank you’ are not nearly enough. The campaign we ran elevated the conversation around affordable housing in Seattle, our challenges with homelessness, and our needs for continued improvement around mental health and addiction services. Our community is already better off because of the work and support you provided during this campaign. I am very truly grateful for your support!

So thanks again for sharing in that vision, and putting your trust in me. And remember there is always more we can do to serve our community and be engaged in making Seattle a better home for everyone -- I know I’ll be looking for a new way to give back, and hope you will too.

Sincerely,

-- Jay
... See MoreSee Less

Dear Friends, 

On Tuesday we received the election results in our campaign for Seattle City Council, and unfortunately, it seems clear that we will not be moving on to the General Election. 

I want to thank each and every one of you for your tremendous support, and I hope in the next few months I’ll get to thank many of you in-person. This has been an amazing and enjoyable experience for me. I learned so much and am so proud of the campaign we ran.  

Last November Joelle and I took a walk in the neighborhood, and as we walked we passed by the homes of our friends -- our son’s preschool teacher, a roommate from UW, a family whose kids I coached in basketball, and patients who we have cared for over nearly the past three decades around Seattle. I asked Joelle what she thought about me running for Seattle City Council. Any of you who know Joelle know she isn’t one to beat around the bush -- she tells it to you straight. She said, “Jay, this is perfect for you. Your entire life has arced towards you doing this. Our city needs you!”

When I asked Joelle if I should run, I was thinking of our friends. My mind went to our son’s teachers who are overworked and underpaid but still give our children an excellent education, to the new UW alums who want to live in the community where they grew up but can’t afford Seattle’s rent prices, and our patients who can’t get access to addiction and mental health treatment. 

Today my mind goes to them again. While I won’t be the one representing them on the City Council, I’m proud of the work we all did putting those issues at the forefront of this election and rallying folks around a compassionate, collaborative, vision for Seattle.

It was nothing but a privilege to take this journey with you all--for your encouragement, and volunteering with canvassing, making phone calls, hosting house parties, for spreading the word about our campaign in your neighborhood conversations and over social media, for your tens of thousands of dollars of contributions and democracy vouchers--the words ‘thank you’ are not nearly enough.  The campaign we ran elevated the conversation around affordable housing in Seattle, our challenges with homelessness, and our needs for continued improvement around mental health and addiction services. Our community is already better off because of the work and support you provided during this campaign. I am very truly grateful for your support!

So thanks again for sharing in that vision, and putting your trust in me. And remember there is always more we can do to serve our community and be engaged in making Seattle a better home for everyone -- I know I’ll be looking for a new way to give back, and hope you will too.

Sincerely, 

-- Jay

 

Comment on Facebook

Thank you so much for running and please consider running again next time. I was very happy to cast my vote for you and would do it again.

Jay, you come to my door a few weeks ago, we spoke a bit about healthcare, I was incredibly inspired by you. Thank you for the service you have provided to Seattle. I look forward to seeing your name on the ballot again.

You'd be amazing in an elected positio! We'd all be lucky to have you represent us. I hope this is just the beginning of this journey for you!

You ran a great race and I hope you will keep trying! You are connected to people and will be an excellent public servant!

Jay - I echo everyone’s sentiments. You were amazing and you would have been a fabulous guardian for the city of Seattle. I am very proud of you and your amazing family!! Thank you!

I cant wait to see where your path will lead. You are an amazing person. Keep doing great things Dr Jay

Hi Jay Fathi. All our communities depend on people like you who genuinely care about their neighbors and issues, who have a vision and desire to serve. Good for you for stepping forward, and making an effort, for believing in the city and being willing to invest your time and energy to represent people. You weren’t elected. That’s disappointing. It’s not a failure.It’s a start. Many successful politicians lose elections before they prevail.You showed your sons that it is worth the effort to take risks to improve the state of affairs. Sending love and friendship. Love the other Joelle

Dr i am honored to know you over 37 years. Your friendship is a pleasure and privilege indeed. You are an outstanding physician and a tremendous gift to all of us who are lucky enough to know you

Jay, I'm so proud of you and all you and Joey have done to make your community a better place. I know you will continue to effect change where needed and will stay strong in your commitment to serve. Maybe city council wasn't meant to be, but there's always mayor, governor, Senator, and President! You'll always have my vote, love you! 💘

Thank you for running, Jay! I thought you had a great showing for a first run. I hope you will keep up the momentum and continue to run for public office.

Appreciate your willingness to serve our city!

I am so proud of you. You have made a difference and have inspired me to do more. Thank you!

You have run an excellent campaign, Jay! Thanks for your sacrifices in order to do so. You have celebrated the goodness of many of the constituents in the district, highlighting their stories in an inspiring way. Your values have been excellent, your stances have been right, and your list of endorsements couldn't have been more impressive. I am grateful to have been able to support you and your campaign. I am certain that you will continue to be a multi-faceted force for good things in our community the rest of your life.

You ran a great campaign and I regret you’re not moving forward! Thank you for running and hope it was a good lesson for your next run! Look forward to seeing u soon in the hood!

Other doors will open now that you’ve had the opportunity to show who you are. Keep the faith. I’ll be cheering you on, as I always have.

I hope you haven’t given up. It requires courage and passion to run for elected office. You have both and I am sure you will get there. Sooner or later!

Running for elected office is a thankless and selfless act...the ultimate form of public service. It takes courage to run. I am sorry to hear you didn’t prevail, but kudos to you for being brave running.

thanks for running! Please keep pushing your public health vision of change

Thanks for getting in the arena Jay Fathi. You are a noble man & I’m grateful I got to know you. I hope we remain friends, that you find another way to influence our common future and that you are at peace knowing you left your all on the field. Cheers to you, Sir!!

Thank you for your hard work Jay, please keep in touch, I know you will keep fighting for this city we all love.

I'm grateful for your effort to make the world a better place, Jay.

Hi Jay! I was so glad to find your fb page and see that you’re leading our community toward health and growth as you always have! Keep on keeping on! Casey Forever. 🙏🏽

Thank you for running - I appreciate your willingness to take a risk for your community. I hope you and your family have some time to rest and relax.

Jay, my good friend! I am so sorry you didn't make it. You would have been awesome. Don't give up, there is always a next time my friend. Keep up the good fight and keep doing what you do for your community.

Beautiful letter. Thanks for running and inspiring us to make a difference!

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3 months ago

Jay For Seattle

Today's the day! Joelle and I put our ballots in the Ballard Library dropbox (there's also one at Green Lake Community Center) to make sure they're counted on time.

Get yours in before 8pm! And then come join us at the The Red Door at 7pm for our Election Night Party.
... See MoreSee Less

Todays the day! Joelle and I put our ballots in the Ballard Library dropbox (theres also one at Green Lake Community Center) to make sure theyre counted on time.

Get yours in before 8pm! And then come join us at the The Red Door at 7pm for our Election Night Party.

 

Comment on Facebook

Good luck today! Our family's ballots went in yesterday.

Good luck! You will rock this.

Good luck today!!

Good luck from Connecticut! Sorry we can't vote for you...

Good luck...Seattle needs your voice!

Good Luck Jay!! (would love to come tonight but working 😞. Thinking of you and the family!💖

Good luck, Jay! Rooting for you!

GOOD LUCK!!

Best of luck, Jay!

Whatever the outcome, you did your best, and you make a great public spokesman.

Good luck Dr J! Rooting for you from south King Co!

I’ve got alternate plans tonight but I put my ballot in the mailbox last night. Rooting for you man!

Sorry we can’t make it tonight - it’s our Night Out Against Crime block party! We are in charge of cotton candy 😜. Good luck - we voted for you the day ballots came in the mail. Let’s do this!

Good luck Jay!!

You got this!

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