Free rent for heroin addicts amid sky-high housing prices?
I was open to learning more about the concept of safe-injection sites. But this safe-injection apartment idea isn’t a good one.
The City of Seattle is considering a proposal to create apartment buildings that would give heroin and drug-users users a place to live and shoot up.
Now, addiction is hard. It’s horrible. People come to heroin addiction for a lot of different reasons and I think it’s simplistic to dismiss it as someone making a bad choice. Some people are victims of horrible childhood or spousal abuses. They turn to drugs to escape the hell that it is their lives. If we can find solutions to reduce the death toll of that addiction, all the better. These are human beings how are loved and parts of families. They are not just statistics. So I’m open to ideas. Just not this one, which will only be another magnet for heroin users from around the country who will come to Seattle for a free apartment to shoot up with the government’s permission.
Consider the many Millennials who have made great decisions throughout their lives: went to school, got a job and never used drugs. But they can’t afford housing because of the sky-high prices and are back living with their parents. So we’re going to tell kids that, as a society, we’re going to take money out of your paychecks – even though you can’t afford to live on your own – and put a heroin addict in a free apartment. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
I spoke with Patricia Sully, attorney at the Public Defender Association and part of the “Heroin Task Force” on why she supports safe-consumption living for homeless folks, and asked her how she could defend these kinds of taxes.
“The taxpayers are already paying for the costs of a lot of the harms that go along with this,” she told me. “This is not the taxpayers who are paying for housing for people who are living with addiction instead of paying for housing for people who are not living with addiction. It is: the taxpayers actually save a lot of money by reducing the public health and criminal justice costs of people who are living with addiction, who are living outside.”
I hear that example all the time, including with the wet apartment complex on 1811 Eastlake, where people are allowed to drink themselves to death if they choose — all on the taxpayer dime. We never get a reduction in our taxes. I’m told about all these savings these programs supposedly produce, but we sure never see the benefits.
“But we do see the benefits of these savings,” Sully responded. “We don’t know what it would look like if we didn’t have them. The costs would still be higher without those things.”
I just don’t buy that. I don’t think government can administer programs like this. We’ve spent more than $1 billion on homelessness and addiction over the last decade. What have we gotten for that investment? Our homeless and addiction problems have skyrocketed. Seattle is the heroin capital of the United States.
The problem is that the government sees addicts and the homeless as usable visuals to get tax increases. The solution is always money. Want to really show you care, Seattle leaders? Start by actually reducing the homeless population or addict population around here. Then I’ll believe you care. But that’s not the basis by which our leaders evaluate these things.
I also asked Patricia if she would allow her children to do heroin in her home. Here’s how she responded.