Max Gross: Wenatchee mayor claims homeless being bused in
Jul 12, 2023, 5:45 PM | Updated: Jul 13, 2023, 10:44 am
(Photo courtesy of the City of Wenatchee)
The Mayor of Wenatchee said homeless people are being bussed to his city, and he’s got proof.
Mayor Frank Kuntz noticed his city’s homelessness problem growing. Suddenly, RVs and tents were popping up around town. His suspicions were confirmed after the county’s latest Point in Time count saw an increase in the city’s homeless population.
Roughly three dozen new people were found on the streets of Wenatchee. In many major cities, this wouldn’t be significant, but it does make a difference in Wenatchee, a city of just 35,000 with few resources to spare.
Homelessness worsened quickly
The Wenatchee homelessness crisis grew almost overnight.
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“Friday at 5 p.m., we didn’t have a problem,” Kuntz told The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “And Monday morning at 8 a.m., all of a sudden, there were somewhere between 20-30 folks that were sort of new to our homeless community.”
The mayor said the newcomers told the local homeless population they were from another city in Eastern Washington. A listener to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH said there’s a rumor around town that two buses of homeless people were recently spotted. The mayor thinks he knows why his city has become a target.
“I think we have done a very good job of (outreach),” Kuntz said. “We’re doing what we can, but to get an influx like that was disappointing.”
Homeless parking lots have been proposed as a solution to ease some of the area homelessness. But in many cities in Western Washington, they have been known sources of problems like crime and drug use. However, things have been different at two sites in Wenatchee, where rules are enforced.
“You’ll see everybody living in campers or living out of their car or living out of the motorhomes. It’s all in those two safe parks, and you know, they’re getting services,” Kuntz said. “So, I think I think we have found a little bit of the secret sauce here.”
Success made Wenatchee a target
Due to Wenatchee’s relative success in dealing with the homeless, they have become a target of other communities. Kuntz says there have been incidents where homeless people have been dropped off from other municipalities. Kuntz said the perpetrators were “caught red-handed” and returned.
Kuntz does not think any city is behind this newest drop-off.
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“I think this is probably a city that has nonprofits that are operating in this field and probably had one of the nonprofit shelters shut down and basically sent them this direction,” he explained.
Though Kuntz won’t say it directly, Spokane is the suspected source of the newly arrived homeless. And while Kuntz credits the Wenatchee Rescue Mission for effectively serving the homeless community with compassion, the city should not be burdened by the homelessness problems of other comminutes.
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.
- Tune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-7pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.