Danny Westneat makes a good point that Seattle has got it backward in defunding the police [“Seattle has been defunding the police exactly backward,” March 13, Local News]. Rather than put in place social workers to replace police, the city did away with the police. Now there’s no one to call when a business or a homeowner needs help with a homelessness issue, be it mental health, vandalism or a major crime.
However, social workers aren’t enough. They have to have solutions at hand to effectively intervene. Where are the mental-health beds? Where are the shelters? Where is the permanent housing? There’s simply not enough.
De-escalating problematic situations is wonderful but won’t necessarily get people off the streets. Bricks and mortar are needed. People have to have shelter and services. Social workers need the ability to move people off the street.
Businesses and homeowners want people off the street. In many neighborhoods, Seattle is becoming unlivable. I recently left Seattle to get away from a neighborhood on Capitol Hill that was turning into a slum. To get people off the streets, you have to close the loop.
Christine Psyk, The Dalles