West Seattle Chamber of Commerce announces forum on homelessness

While homelessness is much-discussed, community discussions tend to happen in relation to something specific – an encampment, a City Council action, etc. If you are interested in a more general discussion of the issue, you might want to RSVP for the forum just announced by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, 1 pm Saturday, April 21st, at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW). The Chamber announcement says it’s meant to address questions including “How did this happen? What’s being done? What can you do?” Participants will be from the city Human Services Department, SPD’s Southwest Precinct, Plymouth Housing, and the Mockingbird Society, with a Q&A period promised for each speaker. No admission charge, but the Chamber says preregistration is required – you can do that here.

12 Replies to "West Seattle Chamber of Commerce announces forum on homelessness"

  • flimflam March 31, 2018 (7:36 am)

    wow, another forum packed with advocate groups…wonder how the minutes of that will read?

    • WSB March 31, 2018 (9:36 am)

      The police and HSD are not advocate groups. Anyway, how this goes will depend on who shows up to ask what.

  • Seattlite March 31, 2018 (7:51 am)

    Aren’t elected officials supposed to have the intelligence, experience and leadership to solve the homeless problems in King County/Seattle?  The homeless situation keeps getting worse because leadership is NOT doing the job they were elected to do. Action is needed now before Seattle ends up like San Francisco, Los Angeles. I was downtown to see the Andrew Wyeth exhibition at SAM and was just appalled at how far down the tubes Seattle has gone these past years.  Seattle is definitely not the Emerald City any longer…the luster is gone.

    • David Clarke March 31, 2018 (10:05 am)

      You are so right!  Certainly not the city we moved to twenty years ago and why we can’t wait to retire and head out.

    • B.W. March 31, 2018 (10:13 am)

      You said it perfectly Seattlite. I moved here several years ago. I had always heard how nice Seattle was. Unfortunately the homeless problem here is way more than what I expected. I cannot believe how city officials appear to stand by and allow downtown and other parts of the city to look like a dump. I constantly hear how 50 million plus is being spent on the homeless situation.  How in the world can the city spend that much and yet they cannot house them? I hope the citizens of Seattle really start holding the city council accountable for doing more talking and passing taxes than they are housing the homeless. I want to show off Seattle to visiting friends and family without the first thing out of there mouth being, “Why are there so many homeless people here?” 

    • Ice March 31, 2018 (11:47 pm)

      I want to muse on homelessness for a few minutes here. I briefly worked in homeless services in smaller city in California, and while it was a terrible
      job (for a variety of reasons,) it opened my eyes to a lot of aspects
      of homelessness of which I was simply unaware because I had never
      encountered homelessness anywhere other than some crazy, dirty person
      asking me for money on the street. My biggest realization about
      homelessness is that there is a lot more invisible homelessness than
      one would think. Most of the homeless people I met were just regular
      people, albeit with poor money management skills and no support
      system, who simply came up short on rent one day and got evicted.
      They ended up in the streets because they had nowhere else to go. If
      you saw them walking by you, you certainly wouldn’t ever think that
      they were homeless. Another thing I realized is that homelessness is
      a cycle that deepens over time. The more-or-less normal person gets
      worse and worse off as they spent more time homeless. While many of
      the people I worked with were able to pull themselves out of
      homelessness with the support of the charity I worked for, a few were
      not. The longer one remains on the streets, the more difficult it
      becomes to pull out of it. It becomes more and more likely that a
      homeless person will turn into some depressed bum who throws garbage
      around, poops on themselves, and shoots up, especially if they had a
      history of mental illness or addiction before they were homeless.
      Once you’re at that point, it’s extremely hard to have a normal
      life every again, though it can be possible.
      Having said that, my next realization is that charity and support services can only do so much. The best way to end homelessness is to prevent it in the first place. The city of Seattle does spend quite a bit of money on
      homeless services, and I’ll let you be the judge as to whether or
      not they are getting a good ROI on the money they spending, but I
      want to point out a bigger issue that is largely out of the hands of
      the city counsel and is the root cause of the homelessness in the
      first place.

      Homelessness is deeply tied to the cost of housing. Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the US and, as with most of the West Coast, it is
      in the middle of a massive housing crunch. Competition for housing is
      fierce, and as the city grows, demand far outpaces supply.
      Homelessness has doubled in the last 5 years as the price of housing
      has skyrocketed in that same time. If you want less people on the
      streets, build more homes. The wealthier portions of the population
      always make sure they are housed, and will often push out lower
      income residents. This is exactly what happened in San Francisco.
      There was a flood of very high income earners, yet the housing stock
      basically remained the same, thus pushing many of the lower and
      middle income people out of the city, or in many cases, onto the street. The exact same thing is
      happening here, but to a much lesser extent because the housing stock
      is actually increasing. If there
      was enough housing stock, even a down-and-out junky might be able to
      afford to rent a room somewhere.

      We’re so deep in the hole with homelessness right now that there isn’t really going to be one easy answer. Elected officials can only do so much and expecting them to completely fix the problem is a bit naive.
      Expecting the police to move any smelly person out of downtown who is
      living in a tent or under an eave is probably quite far out of their
      scope, and would require an insane amount of resources, and a lot of
      dirty work that I am not sure the police would even like to do. The
      city frequently does sweeps of homeless camps, so to say that they
      are just coddling them is a bit inaccurate. Throwing homeless people
      into abject slavery (chain gangs) may sound like a good idea, it’s
      probably more expensive than what we are doing now, and it would say
      a lot about us as a society that we had to resort to slavery to fix
      out issues.

      • Avocico April 1, 2018 (2:17 am)

        To ICE- I can’t stand what is happening to Seattle by way of homeless people, and garbage mountains and rampant drug use, and junkie burglars – so I follow all commentary regarding this subject, and I have to say that your post is about the most reasoned compelling commentary I have read on homelessness. I generally have a much harsher view, and you have really given me some new perspective to consider.., 

  • MJ March 31, 2018 (11:07 am)

    I was recently in Bellevue, the illegal camping and littering is not tolerated there.  Its time the City of Seattle enforce the law! 

    Enough already, hundreds of millions spent, mostly lining beauracrats pockets, and the issue is getting worse!  

    Helping people willing to accept it and make positive changes to their life style is good, but continuing to coddle those unwilling to conform is not and needs to be stopped.  If these non conformers continue to use drugs and steal from others its time to send them to prison and make them work, I like the concept of chain gangs.

    Think of what the City could do with all the money being spent on this issue; more bus service, more money to fix broken infrastructure and many other items, or simply reduce everyone’s property taxes!

    • CatLady March 31, 2018 (10:46 pm)

      Okay, you are what’s wrong with this city, not the homeless population. You “like the concept of chain gangs”? Is there something wrong with having empathy? Seriously, if that’s your attitude please leave. 

      • B.W. April 1, 2018 (8:39 pm)

        CatLady, can you leave first?

  • HTB April 2, 2018 (9:32 am)

    Ice – 

    Great perspective. One question, why does this seem so much worse in Seattle? To put it another way, you don’t see tent encampments lining 405 or I-5 in Everett. Is this an issue of negligence by other cities or too much tolerance on the part of Seattle?

  • CatLady April 2, 2018 (3:20 pm)

    @ B. W. – No, I’m not going to leave. At least not yet – although give in another year or two and I may not be able to afford it anyway. But I’m not the one who is proposing criminalizing lack of money/ support systems, MJ is. Not only is this cruel, it also doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Putting people in prison still costs money, and that money is coming from US (the taxpayers). I would much rather see my tax money go towards services that help lift people out of homelessness, namely MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING.

    MJ’s comment also bothered me because it shows a lack of understanding of what homelessness is – how it starts, and why it persists. It’s easy to write somebody off as “unwilling to conform”, but until you’re actually in that situation I don’t think you should be passing blanket judgement on people. 

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