Former Washington AG: Best place to address homeless crisis is ‘in the state Legislature, not the courts’

Apr 7, 2022, 9:40 AM | Updated: 9:41 am

Hotel shelters, homeless...

A hotel in Renton converted into a homeless shelter. (Dow Constantine, Twitter)

(Dow Constantine, Twitter)

As areas like King County continue to struggle with homelessness, former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna believes that it will be up to lawmakers at the state level to effect long-term change.

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Across the region, attempts to stand up new shelter spaces for the unhoused have been met with resistance from local communities. In Kirkland, a group of parents is attempting to sue the county over plans to convert a vacant La Quinta Inn into permanent housing units for the homeless. Similar sagas have played out in Renton and Redmond as well — in the former, residents of a homeless shelter housed inside a former Red Lion Hotel were evicted by city council, while the latter saw residents speak out against the use of a former Silver Cloud Inn for additional shelter spaces.

And although Kirkland residents are attempting to resolve their situation through legal action, McKenna believes that real solutions need to come from elsewhere.

“There can be reactions by people who don’t want a homeless shelter next to their home or next to their children’s school, but the best way to address that really is in the state Legislature, not in the courts,” he told KIRO Newsradio’s Dave Ross.

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To that end, he suggests changes to public policy “to encourage the development of a lot more housing.”

“Estimates are that we are 4 million housing units short in this country,” he noted. “… (Lawmakers) have got to take steps to create incentives for housing supply increases, and reduce the burdens on the cost of building new housing.”

“There should be a role for some publicly-provided housing as well as we’ve done in the past, but we’re not going to get 4 million units out of those policies,” he added. “So, we need to get busy expanding the amount of housing available, including affordable apartments.”

You can listen to Dave’s full conversation with McKenna here:

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Former Washington AG: Best place to address homeless crisis is ‘in the state Legislature, not the courts’