Seattle Names First Homelessness Czar

Mayor Ed Murray taps experienced public-relations manager that has good relationships with local advocates to be Seattle's first homelessness czar.


Murray, who took office in 2014, proclaimed a homelessness state of emergency in Seattle last November. In January, the annual One Night Count found more than 4,500 people without shelter in Seattle and across King County," writes Daniel Beekman.

SEATTLE, WASH. -- Mayor Ed Murray has hired Seattle’s first-ever cabinet-level director of homelessness, he said Tuesday.

George Scarola will lead the city’s fight against homelessness across multiple departments, the mayor said.

“Homelessness is a national epidemic, leaving cities like Seattle stepping in to fill the large gaps left behind by state and federal agencies,” the mayor said in a news release.

 “Because of the growing scope of work around homelessness, Seattle needs a proven manager to ensure we are achieving our desired outcomes,” Murray said, noting he has known Scarola for many years.
While he may be Seattle’s first-ever cabinet-level homelessness czar, Scarola isn’t Murray’s first point-person on homelessness.

In July 2015, the mayor appointed longtime Mockingbird Society executive director Jim Theofelis as his special adviser on homelessness, a new position in the Seattle Department of Human Services.

But Theofelis stayed in the job only a few months, leaving in December.

Tim Harris, executive director of the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project, said Scarola’s task won’t be an easy one.

“This has been a really hard position for the mayor’s office to fill,” said Harris, who sometimes tangles with Murray.

“It’s a tough job. There’s a lot of conflict. The mayor is often at odds with the advocacy community because he likes to go his own way.”

According to Tuesday’s news release, Scarola is an “experienced public-affairs and community-relations manager.”

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