Ballard District Council meeting recap on homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in the district

The Ballard District Council (BDC) met last night, Wednesday, February 10th, to discuss how local government is responding to the issues of homelessness, mental illness, and drug addiction in the area.

Four panelists joined the council meeting for the discussion, Senator Reuven Carlyle, Jeanne Kohl-Welles (District 4 Rep.), Andrew Lewis (District 7 Rep.), and Dan Strauss (District 6 Rep.).

Senator Carlyle began the meeting with updates on Washington legislation movement for small business and unemployment relief, COVID testing funding, child care funding, and more.

Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who represents District 4, which includes Ballard, then took the virtual floor to share her concern about homelessness and mental illness. She shared that the top priorities for the county in 2021 are public health, food security, housing security which includes homelessness services, economic recovery, child care and employment services, behavioral health and mental health services, substance abuse services, safety services, and access to justice.

Councilmember Kohl-Welles also mentioned the expansion of Just Care into the Ballard Commons area, a newer program from the Public Defense Association.

The meeting went on to discuss what is being done at the state and county level, particularly for drug addiction and mental illness in the area.

Washington state’s role in drug treatment and behavioral health will be increasing, as homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in the Ballard Commons are at a “tipping point,” said Senator Carlyle. He went on to say the state’s help has been a “critical missing link” in managing these issues.

Councilmember Strauss discussed the need to scale up programs instead of the “nip and tuck” being done to help people suffering on the streets as opposed to solving the whole issue. The Regional Authority on Homelessness is working towards this expansion of programs to provide more programs and increase the effectiveness of them.

Overall, the council meeting acted as a discussion on the issues and how local government priorities have shifted to respond to all public health matters, specifically pandemic-rooted issues and homelessness, addiction, and mental illness problems in the district. The meeting also served as a way for BDC members and district representatives to elaborate on updated programs, services, and funding allocation legislation to begin resolving these issues.

Following the discussion was a public Q & A for local residents to voice concerns, questions, and comments.

To watch the full recorded Livestream of last night’s (Feb. 10) Ballard District Council meeting, please visit here.