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Puyallup council candidate sees homeless, drugs in own backyard

A pile of trash at a former homeless encampment in Pierce County, provided by the sheriff's office in May 2018. (Pierce County Sheriff's Office)

Numerous people have been motivated by the homelessness crisis to run for city councils across Washington, but for Puyallup resident Matt Cuyle, the issue has hit very close to home, literally his own backyard.

Cuyle, a local business owner and a former Marine, joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss why he felt he had to act.

“My wife and I bought our house in 2008 on the Puyallup River, and so there’s a lot of wooded area around our house and there’s just been crazy the amount of drugs, verbal assaults my family have incurred,” he said. “My young three daughters have all seen grown men defecate in our backyard, use drugs, camp — we’ve woken up on many occasions where there’s a tent there in our backyard.”

“It’s just gotten to the point that I had to do something.”

The recent Pierce County’s annual point in time (PIT) count identified 1,486 people experiencing homelessness in the community, a nine percent decrease when compared to the 2018 count. The count only represents one night, and the county’s Homeless Management Information System identified at least 10,860 people experiencing homeless over the last 12 months, 4,000 of which later secured permanent housing.

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For Cuyle, running for city council is necessary to combat what he perceives as the city’s inaction.

“I think the city has fallen short in holding service providers accountable, as well as transients and drug addicts that have continued to take advantage of our generosity,” he said. “Our elected officials have to have a responsibility to the taxpayers who are funding a lot of the financing that goes into resources, whether it be bedded shelters, whether it be drug treatment or mental health facilities.”

“They have to make sure that money is being spent wisely not giving it to those who are enabling the people that are choosing to live on the streets, and making sure that they’re accountable to their constituents.”

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Cuyle wants providers that are both accountable to to those that need their services, as well as the community that has to deal with the ramifications of the homeless issue.

“You make sure that they’re accountable not only to the clients they’re serving, in that they require them to be clean and sober, they require them to go to classes, treatment, social support networks, and all that that goes with treating addicts,” he said. “But you also have to hold them accountable in the communities that they embed in.”

Learn more about Cuyle’s campaign on Facebook at @electMatthewCuyle.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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