Leadership and homelessness

The KOMO special “Seattle is Dying” validates the homeless crisis. … ”Whether you believe addiction is a disease or a choice, it is undoubtedly ruining King County, and the cities throughout King County. It’s time to practice tough-love and establish boundaries and consequences for those homeless who break laws, whether they’re using or not.”

If we were serious about helping we would do much more than offer them a field to camp in or temporary housing and food from food banks, much of which they leave on the lawns and streets of the community. Not good enough? So off they go to break into a home or business; steal a car; beat someone up or sell drugs to provide for their desires. Many go off to jail. Yet you may see them back on the street a short time later.

We are letting this deterioration of our community continue. Homelessness and it’s rancid effect makes one wonder: Why would new business and people from other parts of the U.S. want to move here? Why would those stay who can afford to leave?

There does not seem to be a lot of evidence that we as a community are really interested in having the homeless help themselves. A tough, compassionate program saves lives. It involves enforcement and intervention. It enables one to acquire self-esteem and a relevant job skill. That is not our leadership’s approach.

This scenario begs the question: Is King County and city leadership’s response that they do not want to deal with the problem. Or is this their version of compassion?

Shall we continue to become a more giving community to those who do not want to respect themselves, yet control what and how they live in our community? Over $1 billion is spent each year in King County on homelessness and the result is unsatisfactory for all parties. When will the leadership of King County and its cities intervene? When will they show real compassion for the homeless?

– Jim Renton

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