Rantz: Seattle’s homeless, coronavirus crisis will get worse
Seattle’s homeless population will accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. The city, county, and state are failing to address this obvious threat. It was avoidable.
A homeless man originally-suspected of having the coronavirus left the quarantine isolation center/motel in Kent. He allegedly shoplifted from a 7-Eleven next door before hopping on a King County Metro bus. Kent Mayor Dana Ralph repeatedly said on my show that the county’s fast-tracked plan would fail and put her community at risk.
This could have been avoided.
Seattle won’t address homelessness
Seattle has long ignored the homelessness problem. Instead of aggressive leadership like we’ve seen in Snohomish county, the Seattle City Council actively stops the mayor’s office from properly utilizing the Navigation Team (specialized team of cops and social workers) to get homeless into treatment or shelter.
Activists will say the shelters aren’t good enough — as if living in a park or under a freeway overpass is better. The council is filled with cop-hating politicians who want anything they touch to fail. And Mayor Jenny Durkan won’t take on the council because she’d lose and it would show her as feckless. The council can overturn any action the mayor takes.
So Durkan goes along with the council’s idea to overcome homelessness: promote affordable housing policies.
It’s not housing
We have a homeless population full of people in desperate need of treatment for the underlying cause of their situation. They’re not merely homeless because they have no home. They weren’t born homeless. They had a home. So why, now, are they without one? Giving them “affordable housing” (an increasingly meaningless term), doesn’t address the underlying problem.
Many deal with an untreated mental illness. Others with an addiction problem. Some had some bad luck. Each of these groups of homeless people need different kinds of help. The council? They want to offer housing. And to do so, they need to leverage homeless suffering to push policies and enact tax hikes against big businesses, like Amazon. They’ll have people sleep outside in the meantime, using them as bargaining chips with an increasingly tax-weary city.
And while the city tries to address this new public health crisis, they’ve realized they’ve worsened it by failing to address homelessness in an honest way. You have a vulnerable population on the streets, exposed to the coronavirus, exposing others to it on buses and in public restrooms. And the city’s failure on homelessness will lead to our failure on coronavirus.