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Compassion in Seattle is great, but protesting isn’t enough

The City of Seattle needs to accept the fact that it may need a slum in order to house more of the people living on the streets. (KIRO Radio)

It’s great that there is enough compassion in Seattle that people would go to the front of the mayor’s home and protest the sweep of an illegal homeless camp.

After the city and state swept out the area known as the “Jungle,” it was reported that people did just that last week.

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But the issue runs deeper than just camp sweeps. A recent report by the mayor indicated that at least part of Seattle’s homeless problem has to do with building codes. Essentially, the city only wants to build expensive types of housing.

The mayor has called for the state and federal government to “step up” and expand affordable housing capacity, as well as increase funding for addiction services. He proposed adding another $12 million to Seattle’s homeless budget, part of which would go toward increasing the number of safe sleeping locations and shelter and housing options. Last week, Murray announced a series of new homeless initiatives, including opening four new city-authorized camps and dedicating several millions more to help fund homeless programs and the camps.

But, at some point, every major city — not just Seattle — is going to have to have a slum. That’s what we’ve learned here. Seattle has cleared out most of the affordable places to live. The stuff downtown that used to be cheap housing is Amazon now.

We also know a lot of homeless are from here; it’s not as if they are deliberately traveling here.

At some point, the city is going to have to set aside a piece of land that has $400 garden sheds and portable toilets if they want everyone to have some kind of shelter. But the current approach seems to be taking some of the most expensive property in downtown and trying to turn it into a homeless shelter. The city is only going to house a small fraction of the people living on the streets if it does that.

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