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Dori: Why did Seattle pay homeless camp cleanup company $435/man-hour?

A homeless encampment on public and private property near Northwest 46th Street in Seattle. (City of Seattle)

I got an email from a listener that I thought was rather remarkable. The writer, who is involved in the homeless industry, asked to remain anonymous. He reported that a company contracted with the city of Seattle for homeless camp cleanup is getting an extraordinary amount of money for the labor.

Multiple companies submitted bids for the job. I’m not going to name the winning company because I don’t blame them. They’re just doing their job. It’s capitalism.

However, I could not believe the figure when I read it in the contract that the tipster sent. This private company that the city of Seattle has contracted with gets $435 per technician, per labor hour. The overtime hourly rate per worker is $652.50. I’m not talking about an eight-member crew getting that much to split. I’m talking about every single homeless camp cleanup worker.

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My tipster told me there were other bidders that would’ve done the same job for as low as $80 per person per hour. The winning bidder, however, was the $435 company.

First, our city allows these homeless encampments. Then the taxpayers get billed $435 per man-hour to clean it up.

How do you feel about this as a taxpayer? You put in a good honest day’s work. Maybe you’re middle class and making $30 or $40 an hour. How do you feel, knowing that your tax dollars are going toward paying people $435 per hour to clean up the heroin needles and trash and feces that come from the city’s aiding and abetting of these homeless camps?

Is there any graft or nepotism involved? I have no idea. But I cannot explain why, if there truly was an offer for $80 an hour, the city would choose an offer that is five times that.

We’re waiting for public documents from the city to shed more light on all of this. I can assure you, we will be following up.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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