Why Can’t One of the Richest Cities in the U.S. Solve Its Homelessness Crisis? Well, It Isn’t Really Trying—and It Won’t Until You Make It

Comments

1

Well how many millions more do we need to spend on people, the majority of whom refuse to accept help? Are the pillows not fluffy enough?

2

Name a city that has solved its homelessness problem by building "affordable housing".

3

Thanks for writing this and all your work to make connections between the many groups working on housing advocacy!

5

When will we see a call for large upzones from affordable housing agencies? How much of your new housing budget goes to land costs, which come specifically from supply?

Yes, fund subsidized housing. But stop wasting everyone's money subsidizing landowners. We'll house a lot more people if we allow ourselves to build enough.

8

@4:

@1 made an observation. When the city sweeps an illegal encampment, all of the inhabitants are offered shelter. Most refuse. Yelling “hatred” at his observation does nothing for our civic dialog. What should we do with persons who knowingly violate our laws and then refuse our help?

@2 asked a very simple question. Attacking him for “hatred” is not helpful. Have you an answer for his question?

10

@6, I wouldn't necessarily discount @1's viewpoint as "rando." I suspect a significant number of Seattleites are concerned about the fact that we've spent billions of taxpayer dollars on addressing homelessness, but the problem only gets worse.

11

Where can I get help finding a place to live if I am homeless? The shelters where I can only come inside in the evening and then have to leave early in the morning, don't seem better than a tent in an emcampment. Are there authorized areas where I could pitch a tent? Do the authorized tent cities have room for more people?

12

@11, you ask good questions, and unfortunately, there are no good answers, because the City does not fully understand that traditional shelters don't work for everyone, and shelter providers have attested that they are 93% full every night. The City also doesn't understand that rousting people from their unauthorized encampments doesn't help when there's nowhere for them to go. I am so sorry that this is the case, and hope that the providers and advocacy organizations trying to convince the City that it should change its attitudes and procedures are successful before more people lose their lives due to the dangerous conditions of homelessness. Women in Black have stood in honor of more than 75 deaths already this year.

13

You know how you stop a pigeon problem?

Stop throwing out free seed.

14

COME ON, that's not fair or objective,,,,homelessness/drug addiction/mental illness are not a Seattle problem,,,,show me one major city on the west coast where these problems aren't rampant and getting worse. It's also occurring, with different factors, in European cities. It seems to be a break down in Capitalist Democracies and Socialist Democracies,,,something's up....But to point out that Seattle is filthy rich and still has homeless, really doesn't address the core issues...

15

This post touts a one-time, $30M commitment to affordable housing citywide as a big win, but in the title, claims, “...Well, It [Seattle] Isn’t Really Trying.”

Just two years ago, we Seattle voters enacted a $290M levy for affordable housing. In 2017 alone, the city will $68M on assisting the homeless; estimate for 2018 is $78M.

https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/Housing/Footer%20Pages/2016HousingLevy_FactSheet.pdf

https://www.seattle.gov/homelessness/addressing-the-crisis

How is all of that money not “really trying”?

It seems the author simply assumed the Head Tax was the only thing Seattle ever proposed to do on this issue.

Could we please get less self-congratulation, and a few more facts?

16

I’m sure if Seattle taxed the hell out of the rich folk and “solved” the homeless crises that other people wouldn’t just move here to take advantage of our services. Nah, not at all.

17

Seattle is not one of the richest cities. Not at all. Many people living in Seattle may be extremely wealthy. But the city has no way to tax those people. The city is drastically underfunded. It is so underfunded that is really a joke. Also, Seattle’s homeless population is third in the US, to NYC and LA. And Seattle is less then 1/10 the size of those cities. Seattle will never solve the current crises by either spending money (there isn’t enough) or by building housing.

18

ridiculous to equate the "crisis" with housing prices. anyone with half a brain knows that the vast majority of the homeless have little chance of affording any sort of rent.

the advocates will never solve the problem either - they need the homeless so they can continue their careers (and do some heavy duty virtue signaling...)

19

@17"The city is drastically underfunded."

What are you talking about? The general fund has increased by 30% in the past five years alone. Money is pouring into city coffers at an unprecedented level.

20

@17

"The City is drastically underfunded..."

Gimme a fucking break...

The city's revenues have increased 35% in the past 5 years – far exceeding inflation. The population has only grown 11%. The City spends more per capita on homeless services than any other city in the country. Over $1 BILLION annually at the city & county level combined.

The City of Seattle annually spends a total of $6,744 per capita on all city services. That's 3x San Diego ($2,256), and Denver ($2,294) and Los Angeles ($2,132).

The City is on reckless binge -- rivaled only by its Naloxone hobbyists.

The cities that pay close (Portland $5,907), or more (San Fran $9,433) are typically the same ones equally blighted by homeless. When you buy more pigeon food, the shit gets deeper.

It's not that there's a shortage of money or a shortage of compassion. There's too much money and not enough sincerity.

There is NO MONEY in solving the homeless crisis. So O'Brien and Sawant are intent on perpetuating a crisis, from which they and their adherent gain political and financial capital.

And those that believe otherwise are suckers.

https://ballotpedia.org/Analysis_of_spending_in_America%27s_largest_cities

21

Going to let you folks in on a secret. The more money you spend on homeless people, the more homeless people you will get. Guaranteed.

22

@21

Oh come now, you know perfectly well that isn't true. You're just a little sore still about the way people reacted to your plan to offer a $20 bounty per carcass.

23

@11: Here is a 128-page booklet of services for homeless persons in Seattle:

http://main.realchangenews.org/sites/default/files/Emerald%20City%20Resource%20Guide.pdf

As you can read, there are plenty of options besides illegal camping and city shelters; the latter are just what we willingly offer to the people who break our laws.

(I apologize for @12; she has nothing to offer you but her ignorance. Don’t worry for her; her supply is inexhaustible.)

24

@21 is absolutely right. On Sunday, the Seattle Times ran a great article on how Portland's family shelter was overwhelmed despite ever-growing spending. By advertising a 'shelter for all' goal, Portland became such a magnet for transients that the family shelter was only 1/3 Portlanders. Communities all over the region and beyond were sending their homeless there. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/portland-wanted-to-shelter-every-homeless-family-why-the-plan-backfired-and-the-lessons-it-offers-for-seattle/

Seattle is largely having the same problem. By the City's own numbers, over half our 'homeless' are non-resident transients with substance abuse issues, attracted by a reputation for lax policing, legal weed, and implied promises of free, 'no strings attached' (see: low-barrier) housing.

No city, our own included, has the financial horsepower to solve what is essentially a regional problem. The leadership, planning, and funding must come from Olympia. Unfortunately, Gov. Jay Inslee is doing a great Col. Blake (see: M.A.S.H.) impersonation, because he's making himself look good for a Presidential run. Seattle should put a cap on its homeless spending, and bus the surplus vagrants to Olympia.