Seattle might have the worst homelessness problem in the country
However you calculate it, Seattle’s homelessness crisis is one of the ten worst in the country.
The Seattle Times reported that on one night in January of last year, 11,643 people were sleeping in shelters, outdoors, or in vehicles. If you’ve been outside at all in Seattle over the past couple of years, this isn’t shocking.
What is a little surprising though, is that if you just look at Seattle and not the rest of King County, the city jumps to number one (the worst) on the list. With 121 homeless people per 10,000 residents, Seattle surpasses Washington, D.C. (110), New York City (90), and Los Angeles (59).
“I was just in New York and L.A. within in the last six months,” KIRO Radio’s Ron Upshaw told Don O’Neill during the Ron and Don Show. “In New York you do not see very many homeless people walking around.”
“In Los Angeles you do see tents. You do see people living in a similar manner that you do here,” Upshaw added. “I did not see it as bad or as brazenly as in Seattle.”
It’s one thing to talk about statistics. It’s another thing entirely to try to help the individual people behind those statistics. The latter is something Seattle has struggled with as of late.
Barbara Poppe, a homelessness expert Seattle hired in 2016, said the city’s response to its homelessness crisis is lacking. Even Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new $100 million plan is only a start, she said.
“I think it will contribute to the overall progress that you need to make. I don’t think in and of itself it’s an investment that will make visible impacts…” Poppe told Dave Ross during an interview last month.
Durkan announced in December 2017 her plan to spend $100 million on affordable housing. This week she proposed using another $11 million for rental assistance and other housing options.
“The mothers living in cars with her kids…We gotta move them to housing so those kids get good schools and education,” she said.
But Seattleites are still waiting for actual results.
“I hear every politician say that. Go get the kids,” O’Neill said. “Don’t tell me there’s moms and kids in cars when you don’t know the name of the mom or where the car is or who the kids are. Let’s go get them.”
Listen to the full interview here.