More than 5 times that amount, EVERY YEAR, dear Heidi.


Duh...and before more money is shoveled into the black hole that is the current "strategy" to build this housing the city and county and dare I say the state need to come up with a new and coordinated strategy to build this housing. They need to do this before they ask for more money from businesses or people.


"Seattle's multiple housing levies have created just 13,000 affordable apartments since 1981."

This is why people are pissed off. We've been dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into homeless outreach and services, and for well over a decade, the majority of homeless decline services. Instead of pissing money away on programs that don't work and aren't properly managed or overseen, we should have been building low income housing.

The city is currently seeing record-shattering revenues. There is huge political support for comprehensive programs to address homelessness. All the pieces are there--except effective leadership.


And is the Safe Consumption Site also proposed to get some of the money? I would suggest using that money for housing as the need for housing is more urgent.


Hear hear!
Everytime someone in this debate asks "why do so many of them refuse services?" or says something about shelter beds or bullshits about "funding the homeless 'lifestyle'" you can safely ignore their selfish, punitive ass.

We're either going to subsidize some fucking housing by taking back some of our city's executives' (not small business owners) compensation, or this is gonna keep getting worse; no matter what Union Gospel Mission does about it.

And remember, the threshold for homelessness is moving up. It's going to get harder to just dismiss homeless people as some kind of homogeneous lesser "race" when people you know start turning up homeless.

Basically every homeless person was just a person once, until they couldn't afford housing anymore. A lot of the drug and mental health problems come AFTER that. Because you have to figure out how to navigate your life without knowing deep in your mind that you'll always have a private, safe place you can go to. Doesn't that sound like something that would break you?


The report summary linked to This article recommends public private partnerships. Kind of tough considering The Seattle City Council and its advocates meme that business and private housing providers are the enemy of affordable housing. Time for a change in methods.


Housing insecurity is a VERY multi-pronged problem, with no simple or pat solutions. In one way or another I've worked in and around this issue for 15 years. There are as many different stories about the proximate causes of homelessness as there are homeless people.

-Yes, rents are too high and bringing those costs down will help to head off some of the 'lost my job/got sick couldn't make rent' problems.
-Yes, drug addiction plays a role, both before and after becoming unhoused.
-Yes, mental health issues can make it difficult to hold a job, pay bills and not violate norms that will get you kicked out of a place.
-Yes, there are always going to be some people who, by choice or by circumstance, are unhoused. That is not an excuse for not trying our best.

Seattle is an exceedingly expensive place to live, and to build. There is also a lot of unused or underused space. With some innovative thinking, and perhaps some adjustments to everybody's expectations, there is probably a path forward.


@7 wants to round up the undesirables and put them in labor camps. Fuck off Nazi.


@7- so in your scenario we would take the (very common story in my line of work) mother who fled a DV situation w/ her kids, move them away from their schools/support networks, and into a camp?

I think you are applying some stereotypical 'chronically homeless, drug addicted, mentally ill person' to what modern homelessness actually looks like. Much, much more complicated than that. More units of market-rate housing have already slowed rent increases. More units of subsidized housing, along w/ improved transit, will allow the working poor to have more housing options, and be more housing-secure. Funding for programs similar to the Feds McKinney-Vento will allow children who are homeless to maintain their ties to school and support structures in their lives.

We've got work to do. Let's get to it.


If the answer is more housing, then ask yourself why isn't Manhattan on a building spree to build housing for its homeless?

Maybe geography and other factors are involved Heidi. Those that define a one-word answer to a multi faceted problem are the real idiots.


How messed up is your comment, @7?



Report finds that water never boils at 70C, recommends more heat.


My favorite part is the study was commissioned by the Chanber of Commerce, which is of course one of the fiercest opponents of new taxes to combat homelessness. Pretty sure this isn’t the recommendation they were after.


Living in a nice comfortable house is still a luxury no matter how technologically advanced we have become.
Because the home sits on land.
With the current pop in the USA, land is naturally going to be really expensive.
The stick-built home is cheap in comparison.
why not use govt owned land to build affordable housing?
Bye bye richie rich's doggie park.
Oh sorry, the govt owns that land and we need to house the slaves that built your businesses.


UPZONE. Upzoning won't solve the housing shortage, but it is impossible to envision an approach that doesn't include upzoning (probably beyond HALA recommendations) that makes meaningful strides.


@5 Agreed. Being on the street with all your possessions, no secure place to go that's all your own. Probably not sleeping very well because how could you if you've always got to watch your back. It is no doubt extremely stressful, creates the openings for mental illness to get a foothold and contributes to drug use because that's a way to feel better temporarily. Anyone who says homelessness is a lifestyle choice might not be thinking about it very thoroughly.


Let’s Sawant handle this, she is a real leader.


I like Our Dear Mistral's idea. Anyone who has spent anytime at all in Pioneer Square, Belltown or SODO knows that we are just shuffling addicts around and making it easy for the dope man to find them (and giving a lot of dubious religious groups prime real estate with no property tax bills). A person messes up at DESC, Salvation Army, Lazarus, Union Gospel or any of the other "social services" and they just get put out onto the street to become society's problem. They are costing us a lot more than they are contributing. We need real rehab, and real mental health care - including the ability to commit people and the ability to force people to take their meds if they want to stay in the system.

I also support city sponsored campgrounds for RV's and people living in their cars. We provide basic sanitation and utility services (power hookups, potable water, sewer dump stations, porta-potties and dumpsters) and in return require the residents to keep their spots clean. If the cops come, they're bounced. If they're really bad, their rig is confiscated.

And I support housing, but not government housing. Anyone with experience in SHA knows what a mess that is. Instead, stop giving all these developers a huge gift by not requiring parking, based on some stupid SDOT theory that we're all going to start riding bikes. Instead, let them off the hook for parking if, and ONLY if, they agree to provide (for instance) 10% of the units at 50% of the average citywide rent for thirty years, no matter if they sell it or not.

We have to stop treating the homeless like a homogenous group: There's addicts, mentally ill, people down on their luck, and transients who are here for seasonal work (among others). Until we do that, we'll continue to throw money at a problem that is only getting worse.


I haven't read this anywhere or seen on the News. But, when was the last time the City of Seattle actually built housing? Not paying funds to programs that offer Low Income Housing where a Non-Profit owns buildings. Because I hear Council members on the news saying 'We (City of Seattle) need to build more housing...'

But, with all of the millions raised in the last 7-8 years through various taxes from Sales, Property, Levies, etc. Where are the new buildings at?


Taxing headcount to fix homelessness is stupid, because it's not directly correlated to the issue of the cost of housing. Headcount is only somewhat related. If we had the same employee numbers but in small business, we'd have the exact same problems of region growth but would somehow be willing to exempt them.

You know what does correlate to the cost of housing? The cost of housing. Increase regional property taxes, which disincentivizes cost growth. If property taxes continue to rise in spite of tax, then at least more value is extracted from the top end.

Use those new revenues to fund lower income housing, and you can also forgive low-income housing of some or all of the tax burden, allowing for cheaper rents.

If you feel that cost of housing leads to homelessness, which I think is arguable, then correlate cost of housing to homelessness services: the more housing costs, the more revenues to be generated to provide at the bottom end.

Taxing Dick's because they happen to have a lot of service employees does not tie the cause to the solution at all.


Maybe everyone's losing their collective shit because they think its a terrible idea? People at the stranger are pissed at Amazon for pumping billions into the local economy and care more about some junkie asshole that would rather spange then work? Amazon ain't the problem it's the heroin people.


When most of a city’s land is used up by single family homes for rich people, homelessness comes as no surprise. Let’s pass an ordinance that allows camping in excessively big yards and the homeowner must provide sanitation. That seems fair given how much space they are taking.


@23 - You forgot the bit about Amazon paying all their Amazombies higher-than-median wages, importing 1000s to 10,000s new workers, and creating over-demand for places to live, which causes rents to increase. So yes, Amazon's actions are having identifiable negative impacts on the local economy, as well as positive. Let's address those, and have Amazon take responsibility for all the impacts of its actions. Seems equitable to me.

But we're a society, and as such we are in a complex web of relations. It behooves us to take care of those with lesser means, or who run into hard times.

EITHER we as members of our local & regional society pull together to help out others who have less and are in crisis, (and sure, let's do it effectively.)

OR we allow them to the right to be fully autonomous and make whatever decisions they need to survive, which means we stop arresting them or doing 'sweeps' so that they can do what they need to do.

What sort of sociopaths are we?


@16 This.


@25 Yes.

But suggesting we forcibly remove and lock people up in work camps for the crime of being poor, why, that's just fine!


This is where 1/4 of the working class begin the turn to conservativism and start departing Washington State, leaving the rest to foot the bill. The exodus begins in 5....4....3....2...


you know where its really "affordable"? arkansas, kansas, oklahoma...any particular reason the homeless need to be here i seattle? its certainly not their job or family...

i want a penthouse apartment near central park in NYC, where do i apply?


Until the people who are either in our cities' politics or write glowing articles about what to do about the homeless problem, start talking about how they have taken at least one of these upstanding individuals under their wing and into their homes, fucking forget my support. Want to really make a difference? You put your money where your mouth is. Until then, I am out.


Does anyone really believe that if we let the city council soak us or big business for more than they already are, that the situation will improve? The problem is not that we don't have enough funds, the problem is that the city council is inept. They've doubled the spending on the homeless issue in the last few years, and the problem has exploded. The country's 18th largest city has the third highest homeless population, and the highest per capita. Does that sound to you like they've been doing something right, that they deserve more money? Why is it that Bellevue, whose housing costs are even more expensive than Seattle's doesn't have rows of tents and mounds of trash? Because they don't allow it. The council needs to grow a spine, stand up to the homeless activists, and close the campground.

They've lied to us about costs and mismanaged program after program, why should we trust them now? They don't even have a plan for the money, other than to "build more housing." Oh, and to give FREE gas, FREE insurance, FREE repairs, and FREE parking pretty much anywhere in the city to derelict RV's that are rolling methlabs and fire bombs. The best thing for our city AND the homeless would be to vote all of them out.


This is a huge problem and it's something that the state and Federal governments need to play a role in solving. There is no reason that a few big cities should have to foot the bill for what is largely a failure of society to provide jobs/places for everyone. It makes even less sense to try to house high numbers of people in the most expensive part of the state. A dollar of housing funds would go much farther in other counties, Eastern Washington, etc.

I think that the concern about high spending on services, toleration of anti-social behavior etc. is likely to lead more people to move to Seattle can't simply be dismissed. At one level it's hard to blame someone who makes that decision (not really different than someone who moves to a city where there are more jobs). But what that means is that we can't fix the problem by just sending more $$, because the number of people here needing services will logically increase.

I am well aware that the homeless are far from a homogeneous group, and that a good chunk of the people on the streets here are from Seattle. I am also aware that some fraction (don't have numbers) are here in the city because this is where the services are. But that is only because we have not put services in other areas. It's insane to try to concentrate services for this population here, where it is as expensive as possible to serve/house people. Maybe it is time to take in the welcome mat for people from outside the city and concentrate on taking care of our own.

I'd like to see other cities/counties stepping up and offering some housing, mental health services, etc. Should be paid for at a state or national level rather than expecting Seattle's taxpayers to cover it. In any other socioeconomic class, if someone can't make where they are, they would consider moving. Lots of people move to New York or LA, find out they can't make it there, and then go back whence they came.

And @19- Good one! HAHAHA! Sawant's high-profile initiatives are going to have the effect of making landlords LESS, not more, likely to take a chance on low-income people or those trying to rebuild their lives.


Dear Heidi:

You know what would be really interesting to read? A series of articles outlining all the steps required to get a new, affordable multi-family building built in Seattle, in real time. If the design process for this building takes a year - 12 months of articles on the design process. If securing funding takes 15 months - 15 months of articles on that process. I am sure some processes overlap. Then, finally breaking ground and months of articles on the construction process, then the application process to finally someone moving in. Crucial factor here is: REAL TIME. See if anyone can stick around long enough at The Stranger to finish it, and see how many readers stick it out until the doors open.


@34, +1


If they want to build "affordable housing" (our latest buzzwords, along with "vibrant" and "walkable", and joining that old favorite "world class") there's ways to speed that up:

Have each city along I-5 and I-405, from Olympia to Cedro-Wooley commit to a certain percentage of units based on their population.

Have those cities identify areas that are appropriate from an infrastructure standpoint - easily available utilities, close to transit, etc.

Have a standard design - not grim like traditional public housing, but something that is attractively bland and easily/affordably maintained. Buy a plan off the shelf, if possible.

Offer a range of accommodations in each building from studios to three bedrooms.

Don't worry about retail on the ground floor.

Provide some parking (a lot of working poor rely on their cars because of work schedules or location. Get over that)

Waive the 1% public art and public comment periods. Those are what makes projects - especially government projects - go sideways. This is housing, not a welfare program for architects and artists.

Waive zoning.

Award one or two construction contracts. Don't worry about who owns the company, choose based on experience. Draft the contract so that they get a bonus if they finish ahead of time, and a penalty if they delay. Make them provide a 30 year warranty on their work.

Hire a management company and hold them accountable for routine maintenance.

None of this will ever happen, but that's how you could do it.


@34 This likely would be fascinating and also will never ever happen at The Stranger.

Please wait...

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