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00000181-fa79-da89-a38d-fb7f2b910000KUOW is joining forces with other Seattle media outlets to highlight the homeless crisis in the city and region on Wednesday, June 29, 2017.The effort was modeled after a collaboration by more than 70 San Francisco outlets to focus a day of news attention on the issue and possible solutions.Read more about the Seattle project and check out our coverage below. Follow the city's coverage by using #SeaHomeless.HighlightsThe Jungle: an ongoing coverage project going into the notorious homeless encampment under Interstate 5.Ask Seattle's Homeless Community: KUOW is launching a Facebook group where anyone may ask a question about homelessness, but only people who have experienced it may answer. This was inspired by a recent event KUOW co-presented with Seattle Public Library and Real Change, where residents of the Jungle answered audience questions. No End In Sight: an award-winning investigative project from KUOW about King County's 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Senators Disagree On Need For Statewide Homeless Emergency Declaration

A homeless camp beneath an Interstate 5 off-ramp in Seattle's SODO district.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan
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A homeless camp beneath an Interstate 5 off-ramp in Seattle's SODO district.

With homelessness reaching crisis levels in Seattle and other Washington cities, an influential state senator says the Legislature needs to step in.

TRANSCRIPT

Sharon Nelson, the Senate Democratic leader, plans to introduce a bill February 4 to use the state's rainy day fund for more homeless services. It has more than $700 million and is expected to grow. Nelson wants $300 million to go toward fighting homelessness.

Nelson: "We are hearing from cities from the coast to Spokane, and north and south, that they are struggling with this crisis. My proposal will be to use a portion of those funds and use proven, evidence-based projects that we can do to help the homeless."

That includes projects like more shelters, housing for youth, and efforts to quickly move people into permanent homes.

The rainy day fund is set aside for emergencies.

Nelson's Republican counter-part, Senate Republican leader Mark Schoelser, says homelessness doesn't meet that criteria.

Schoesler: "It's for when the economy truly takes a down turn or there's a huge natural disaster. Dipping into it prematurely could result in cuts to important services when there is some sort of dip in the economy."

He says the idea won't get support from his Republican colleagues.

It's an idea Governor Jay Inslee has supported, though, saying homeless services need more state funding.