An important element in any analysis of homelessness is the recognition that for decades low-income housing loss continued unabated due to our city’s own policies or lack of them.
In downtown Seattle alone, starting in the 1960s, thousands of single room occupancy options and affordable apartments were demolished or gentrified. The transformation of downtown left many impoverished and elderly individuals out of the equation, along with workers with modest incomes.
Changes in the economy, job opportunities and the nature of work; the diminution of unions; the abandonment of the mentally ill; and other festering social problems have led to today’s proliferation of homelessness here and in many other parts of the country. There is legitimate anxiety that the pending expiration of the moratorium on rent payments could result in a cataract of individuals and families who will become unsheltered — in many cases for the first time — and further swell the ranks of the homeless.
It is to be hoped that the newly proposed effort dubbed Compassion Seattle will address in truly comprehensive and compassionate fashion the ravages of homelessness and thoroughly alleviate the suffering of many who for too long have been relegated to a most arduous and insecure existence.
Joe Martin, Seattle