If you are a Seattle resident and you’ve visited your neighborhood park lately, it’s likely you will have found homeless encampments tucked among the trees. Not too long ago, this was a line that few would dare to cross. No longer.
After years of throwing hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars at the homelessness crisis, city officials seem as clueless as ever. As the problem spreads from random plots of green near highways into sacred and scarce park space, members of the Seattle City Council continue to shovel money into the coffers of the very social-service agencies that cannot seem to fix the problem, even as they dominate and skew the discussion at City Hall.
The Puget Sound Business Journal has estimated that the real annual price tag for dealing with the region’s homeless population is as high as $1 billion. Somewhat more than 3,700 people are categorized as homeless in Seattle this year. For a billion bucks, every one of them could be given a $270,000 house for free.
If that sounds too simplistic, how about this: Let a few homeless folks bunk at the homes of the council members until those politicians dispense with their airy timidity and face up to reality; not just the shortage of affordable housing but rampant drug use, antisocial behavior, persistent crime and the harm being done to city businesses, urban neighborhoods and, yes, parks.
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