Re: “Auburn City Council votes to create criminal penalty for camping on city property” [April 19, Project Homeless]:

The council can look north to see that making homelessness a crime doesn’t work. Some people experiencing homelessness cannot be safe (nor people around them) in shelters. Housing them in tiny houses, motels or other converted accommodations costs the public a lot less than 90 days in jail (after which the person is homeless again). One’s inability to pay a $1,000 fine will morph into further “offenses” that shift focus from the original losses or disorder that made a person homeless to his/her growing criminal record. The council voted to dispose of homeless people, to get them out of sight and forget they are human and citizens.

Investment in community-based management can lead to solutions that police interventions cannot. People who know of available local properties and resources can see possible solutions to the high volume of homelessness. If cities would invite them to the table, cut red tape and redirect funds from policing to real housing alternatives, all stakeholders would benefit.

Elaine Nonneman, Seattle