Rantz: Seattle must overcome delusional or naive homeless people and their enablers

Sep 14, 2022, 6:29 PM | Updated: Sep 15, 2022, 7:31 am
An encampment in SODO (The Jason Rantz Show)
(The Jason Rantz Show)

I spent last Sunday visiting various homeless encampments in Seattle. After speaking with many living in them, most of whom were from out of state, it became clear: they’re beyond help. It’s the fault of city leadership and homeless enabling activists.

The encampments I visited in SoDo were obviously filthy. Garbage and human waste festered in massive piles, with flies everywhere. The stench could make your eyes water. Used needles were strewn about and the homeless seemed not to mind because they’ve gotten used to it.

It’s not safe to live here. But there’s a pressure campaign to stop sweeps.

Attempts to stop sweeps are what lacks compassion

Local activist groups help keep homeless encampments intact, pushing back against sweeps. Seattle city councilmembers like Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda, and Tammy Morales have done their best to keep the homeless outside rather than move into shelters. They claim that sweeps lack compassion. They should visit these encampments.

There’s nothing compassionate about people living in these conditions.

Many homeless refuse to move into the shelter space that’s offered. Much like local activists and city council members, they complain about a lack of affordable housing.

Homeless say they want housing

Tina came to Seattle from Darrington “to find a better life” after a divorce.

But she became addicted to heroin and her life has spiraled. She says she’s currently seeking treatment — something she’s attempted “several” times before.

She’s been living on the streets for three years. Just last week, her tent burnt down in the encampment, but she didn’t or couldn’t explain how.

While she says the city rarely connects with her and other homeless people, she says a solution is housing. She wasn’t alone.

Mary from Georgia came to Seattle thinking she could find affordable housing options. She now lives with her partner and dog, Sassy, in a tent along a row of RVs near T-Mobile Park.

“I heard they [the city] had better resources,” she told me. “So far, I haven’t come across any. I was expecting them to have more availability, low incoming housing.”

She stays in Seattle because she says the city is “accepting of the tents.”

Housing isn’t the answer to homelessness

Believing that “affordable housing” will solve their problems is, at best, naive and, at worst, delusional. It’s disturbing that activists and the city council share the opinions of the very people who are not of sound mind to come up with solutions on their own.

None of these people were born homeless. They became homeless and it wasn’t because they were “one missed paycheck away from landing out on the streets.”

They’re dealing with addiction and mental health issues that have gone untreated for too long. What do you think “affordable housing” is to someone who has no job and is in desperate need of medical intervention?

Some better answers

“Affordable” or low-income housing won’t help because they have no money to spend. And they do not have the capability yet to hold down a job.

A home doesn’t address why they’re homeless to begin with.

After speaking to many such homeless people, it became even clearer that the only thing that will help most of them is addiction services and mental health treatment. Without it, they will die — either out on the streets or in fully subsidized housing. This isn’t compassionate. It’s not moral.

For those who are otherwise able-bodied, they’re in desperate need of job training and a program that gives them structure, rules, and help connecting with local businesses who will take the risk. There are businesses that would hire some homeless people whom they think will be responsible. Government programs can help.

The city or county should offer payroll tax incentives to hire these people. It should offer a program that will ensure these homeless people arrive on time to their jobs, showered, shaved, and dressed in clean clothes, so they can be the best employee they can be.

Completing the work and getting a paycheck is motivating and can change some of their lives. With the county or city’s support, businesses will feel more confident that they’re making the best move for their business.

Anything short of this holistic approach will fail. Address the root causes and we can actually solve homelessness. Focus on ideological agendas of free housing? All it does is ensure an endless money pit into real estate that kills people indoors rather than outdoors.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle must overcome delusional or naive homeless people and their enablers