O’Neill: Mayor, Council deserve – a little – credit for Seattle homeless ideas
I might surprise some people with this but I have to give some credit to the mayor and Seattle City Council.
Mayor Ed Murray announced Friday that the city is opening three new homeless encampments, just like he promised last year. The three new camps are slated to host as many as 210 people and open in early 2017. Is this a helpful thing? Probably not. But one thing that really bothered me through this last election cycle was how little any of our politicians talked about homelessness.
You poll people around America, and especially in this region, and the homeless problem is the No. 1 thing that they are concerned about. Same goes for what it’s linked to – the heroin epidemic. Still, Hillary wasn’t talking about this. Bernie wasn’t talking about this. Donald, who is traveling around the country spiking the football, has never said a thing about this. And Gov. Jay Inslee, he didn’t talk about homelessness or address the heroin epidemic but still got re-elected.
That’s why I have to give the mayor and city council some credit because they are at least willing to talk about it. Now that the council has dealt with the budget, they will pivot back to the homeless crises and try to deal with it as best they can. I think it’s just something that they didn’t understand; none of us completely understood. And we had a mayor who, a year ago, if you connected the homeless crisis of people living in tents and derelict RV’s and mentioned heroin, he got pissed off. He’d get defensive and mad and criticize anyone for painting people in that way.
Murray doesn’t understand the people living in derelict RVs and tents, which is different than the people living at Mary’s Place – who are getting millions from Starbucks and other big Seattle companies, as well as from Stephen Hauschka and the Seahawks. Those folks are in a spot where they are working or ready to go back to work. There isn’t a huge substance issue that is turning them into zombies and blocking that opportunity for them. But they need help and housing — and housing first.
Of course, my co-host Ron Upshaw isn’t ready to give the mayor or council any kudos. To him, there are no shortage ideas about how to deal with the homelessness solution – beyond what may or may not be coming from our remarkably silent homeless czar — and yet we continue to push an encampment idea that hasn’t worked.
“The new idea is the same as the old idea,” Ron says. “You know what the new result is gonna be? The same as the old result.”
Problem is, I don’t disagree with Ron.