In homeless crisis, Seattle’s challenge is its own progressive attitude
The progressive persona Seattle projects may need to be fixed before we can solve the city’s homeless crisis.
Seattle University has basically taken on homelessness as a university-wide issue. They have all the disciplines working on it.
Sara Rankin, the director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project at Seattle University’s law school, says Seattle is actually spending itself into a bigger homelessness problem. And the unwillingness of so many of the city’s neighborhoods to actively address the crisis isn’t helping.
“Progressive personas without true compassion and without true reflection is Seattle’s problem,” Rankin said.
Rankin hails from Chicago, where the attitude may not be as compassionate, but you at least know what people are actually thinking. She says Seattle has to give its housing-first programs a boost. It would be better, Rankin says, to house someone who needs treatment or mental health services before they start any programs.
The homeless population generates enormous costs for Seattle. The city houses them through their criminal justice system. Plus, Rankin points out, they contribute to a high amount of emergency response. It is costing the city millions, she says.
Seattle leadership continues to search for ways to further fund its homeless and housing programs. The latest idea is a head tax, which would charge nearly 600 of businesses in the city 26 cents per employee, per hour. It would raise more than $20 million a year.
But funding aside, Rankin says the city as a whole needs to actually want to solve the problem.
“A lot has to do with political will and community support,” she said.
Listen to the entire conversation here.