KTTH OPINION

Rantz: As Marc Dones exits, disband useless homelessness authority

May 17, 2023, 6:45 PM | Updated: May 18, 2023, 10:28 am

Marc Dones...

King County Regional Homeless Authority CEO Marc Dones (King County Government Channel)

(King County Government Channel)

The King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) has been an abject failure under the leadership of activist Marc Dones. It’s time to disband the useless KCRHA and let cities tackle the problem independently. It’s the only way to make a dent in the crisis.

Dones announced the decision to resign in a memo, a festering display of self-aggrandizing narcissism. It’s a delusional, revisionist retelling of what has occurred and we’re supposed to pretend there has been any meaningful success within the KCHRA.

Since becoming KCRHA CEO in 2021, Dones notes that KCRHA “resolved 14 major encampments,” “clearly outlined a core focus on unsheltered homelessness,” and “rethought the point in time count.” Dones went on to celebrate the hard-working staff.

But as of March 2023, there were 414 tent encampments just in Seattle alone. Clearing 14 isn’t success; it’s an utter failure. It’s not difficult to outline a “core focus” on homelessness: The focus is getting them off the streets, which Dones also failed at. And kudos for revising how KCRHA counts the homeless. They finally got a more accurate understanding of how the crisis worsened under Dones. And the staff must be hard working. They were given unlimited vacation as a benefit to working (or vacationing) with the KCHRA.

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Marc Dones, the homelessness martyr

Ironically, Dones offered advice to the county on how to move forward to tackle homelessness. The first recommendation effectively asked that the future CEO be allowed to do what he or she pleases with minimal interference from regional leaders on the KCRHA board. It’s a transparent way to put the KCRHA’s failures on someone other than CEO.

Dones also suggested we acknowledge made-up “systemic racism and oppression” that we’re supposed to pretend is responsible for homelessness. In the world of far-left activists, like Dones, homelessness is caused by a lack of affordable housing and not rampant drug addiction and untreated mental illness.

Of course, Dones also said more money is needed to tackle homelessness. After previously being mocked and derided when asking for $12 billion, you’d think Dones would be smart enough to stay away from any mention of funding. The outrageous budget demand was the moment Progressive regional leaders realized how truly unserious Dones is.

Dones also got personal, desperately hoping to be seen as a martyr, instead of a failure. But it just reminds us why Dones was the county’s second choice for the job.

“As a queer Black person, I have watched many members of my community burn out trying to hold too much for too many and I have watched them become unable to contribute the full breadth of their talent or vision to the work. I have watched them become bitter and destructive and what I know is that I don’t want that for myself,” Dones wrote.

Inevitable failure

Dones failed because when you hire an activist, you get an activist. Like the most extreme activists, Dones had an attitude making it difficult to work with. There have been many stories of an unwillingness to work with others; you either agree with Dones, or you’re an enemy. But the failure was also inevitable because homelessness shouldn’t be addressed regionally when there are competing interests.

You have lawmakers and regional leaders who refuse to use sweeps and police while believing a “lack of affordable housing” leads to homelessness. These are positions that get in the way of progress.

Without sweeps and police, the homeless know there are no consequences if they continue to say no to offers of help. So, they say no to offers of help. The chronically homeless require a carrot-and-stick approach, and anything less will allow the crisis to worsen. And pretending one’s inability to afford a rent increase leads to homelessness, rather than a decision to move to another neighborhood or city or get a roommate, means we’re not addressing the underlying causes of why they’re homeless to begin with.

You’ll often hear voices tell you that sweeps lack compassion and don’t work. Ask yourself this question: Do those voices have a track record of success? For all the claims that sweeps don’t work, the activists who have been in charge without meaningful sweeps have created a bigger problem. Homelessness (along with the drugs and crimes associated with homelessness) has gotten worse under their watch, not better. And it’s not due to lack of funding.

Cities are under the activist influence

Some county leaders know there must be consequences for refusing services that are in the best interest of the homeless. They also know drug addiction and mental illness are the leading causes of the crisis. They’re not able to implement workable plans because the KCRHA is run by far-left activists emboldened by King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Homelessness is no more a regional issue than it is a state issue, with or without Marc Dones. It makes no sense to have one agency handle the entire county.

The majority of the homelessness issue resides in Seattle. Those leaders should address it the way it wants while allowing other cities, like Bellevue, Kent, or Federal Way to do things their way. What works (or doesn’t) in Seattle isn’t always what’s best for Auburn or Redmond. And with the KCRHA prioritizing Seattle over other cities, taxpayers in Renton and Burien subsidize policies and strategies that won’t ever help them. We’re all much better off without a KCRHA, regardless of who leads it.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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