SEATTLE, WA – Today the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations announced that $60 million dollars will be included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations bill for the creation and expansion of alternative crisis response teams across the country. Earlier this year, Representatives Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) sent a letter with their colleagues to the Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-Texas) requesting this funding be included in the appropriations bill to enable the growth of crisis response teams to help better address the mental health, behavioral health, and substance use crises that communities across the country are grappling with.
See below for the statements of support from community organization leaders:
“In One Seattle, every person deserves to feel safe and supported. Diversifying our crisis response options and expanding our public safety toolkit allow for improved response times and capacity. This investment will help Seattle continue to advance innovative solutions to keep residents healthy and safe and allow law enforcement to focus where they’re needed most.” - Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell
“The behavioral health crisis that we are experiencing here in Seattle and King County is among the greatest of threats to our community’s wellbeing. People are suffering and even dying in the streets because of our society’s failure to invest in the housing and healthcare infrastructure needed to treat and heal sick people. The traditional criminal justice responses are ineffective and harmful with respect to these issues. We must build up our alternative crisis response systems now before we lose even more lives to this preventable and treatable crisis.” - King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay
“As we address the behavioral health crisis, there are three questions we are all solving for: Who can we call? Who will come? Where will they go? 988 coming online in July will start the answer to the first one. Critical conversations with Behavioral Health Specialists, health care centers, Fire and Police Chiefs, Sheriffs, Tribes, King County Regional Homelessness Authority and more are forging a path toward answering the second one. However, the final question remains a critical missing piece of the puzzle. Having an integrated, functioning approach to this last question will start us on the path of ensuring that critical behavioral health issues might just be a blip in someone’s life on their road to stabilization, rather than the catastrophe individuals and society at large keep facing simply by our lack of integration and coordination. Rep. Smith’s leadership in pursing support at this level would be monumental in moving the needle in this area.” - King County Councilmember Sarah Perry
"Lavender Rights Project supports large investments in alternative responses to mental health crises and emergency situations. It is important for Black and Trans communities to have responders that are experts in handling the challenges that only we face, with trauma-informed modalities that are specific to our populations. Traditional 911 responses often escalate and become deadly because responders have not been properly trained to understand our community and needs. We believe this action will save lives and protect our community." - Jaelynn Scott, Executive Director, Lavender Rights Project
“I don’t think you have to look any further than what happened to George Floyd to know that an armed police response is not always the right way to handle a 911 call. But if you look at our data, nearly a third of these calls are labeled ‘nonurgent,’ and even of those that are labeled 'urgent' could be handled, and would actually be better handled, by trained mental health professionals and other community responders without an armed police presence both across the country and regardless of regional differences. We need to let cops be cops, but to do that, we need to adequately fund auxiliary services.” - Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
“The Alternative Mobile Services Association supports the efforts of Congresspersons Cori Bush, Adam Smith, and others, to support the local efforts of cities and counties across America to provide community-based crisis responders to bolster our public safety and public health system. We fully endorse an increase of $100 million dollars in the upcoming Appropriations bill.” - Jason Renaud, Facilitator of the Alternative Mobile Services Association
“Crisis response funding is critical in maintaining and sustainability in the livelihood of communities when crisis occurs. Sufficient funds lessen the impact the negative impact on humanity and community. To have sufficient funding available is a necessary proactive approach in sustainability and recovery when crisis occurs which will happen!” - Dr. Linda Smith, SKY/Renton KC Alliance for Justice
Find more information about Reps. Smith’s and Bush’s request to the House Committee on Appropriations, including a link to their letter, here.