Why does Seattle outpace most of the country with rise in homeless?

Dec 19, 2018, 2:16 PM
seattle homeless...

Millions have been spent in Seattle to help homelessness, but if you look at the numbers, it appears though that money was spent on buying more homeless people. Seattle homelessness rose 4 percent in 2018, and 5.6 percent in Washington state.

That far surpasses the 0.3 percent rise nationally. But while Seattle’s percentage may seem high, it’s significantly less than how much time Tom and Curley spend talking about homelessness.

“We’re wondering why we have a homeless problem, because we’re catering to people who want to be able to be homeless, and they go to where the fishing’s good like Olympia and Seattle,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley.

“The problem is you have to address the alcohol and the drugs and homelessness combined. You have to put a roof over them, and then you have to fix the alcohol and drug problem. Seattle doesn’t. Seattle builds tiny houses and does low-barrier, so they never fix the problem.”

An annual report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development performed a count of more than 3,000 cities and counties, reports The Seattle Times. Seattle remained third in the nation in homelessness, behind L.A. County and New York City, which managed to see decreases this year.

RELATED: Seattle homeless tents becoming obstacles for those with disabilities

“Why do they put up signs in front of lakes saying ‘Don’t feed the ducks. Don’t feed the bears,’ when it comes to national parks?” asked Curley.

“So you’re saying the homeless are like the bear population?” co-host Tom Tangney replied, clearly judging Curley. “I wouldn’t go there, John.”

“Well I would. Because if you just hand somebody a sandwich or just give someone a tent, you don’t change the behavior that put them on the street in the first place. It’s not really helping them,” Curley said.

RELATED: Three years later, Seattle’s homeless emergency persists

Recent data on homelessness shows that Seattle and King County’s homeless population sits just over 12,000, and the portion of homeless who are unsheltered also increased from 2017, from 47 percent to 52 percent in 2018. Washington’s 5.6 percentage rise was among the highest the country, only behind Massachusetts, New York, and Texas.

Addressing the issues at the core of homelessness

For Curley, we’re failing to address the core issues at the heart of homelessness, and we’re simply using superficial solutions.

“What we do is we take them, allow them to have drugs and alcohol problems and put them in little houses and we feel like we’re doing something for them,” he said. “They don’t want to do the hard work, which is to fix the individual from the inside out.”

“Let me ask you this,” he continued. “We’re going to have 90 million or more spent on this. Do you think next year when we’re doing this show on this date the homeless will have gone up or down? You throw more money at something, you get more of it.”

So tune in next year around this time to see the result.

John Curley and Shari Elliker on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 3pm for John Curley and Shari Elliker.

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Why does Seattle outpace most of the country with rise in homeless?