We Need Roofs Not Righteousness: Judging the Homeless Doesn’t Solve Seattle’s Homelessness Crisis

Bring These People Inside: It Rains Here, You Know

Bring these people inside: It rains here, you know. (Photo Credit: Seattle Stranger)

It doesn’t matter if a person is on drugs or completely sober, it’s not the government’s place to pass judgement on someone’s personal moral choices; no matter who they are, or what they’re chosen vices happen to be, everyone needs a safe place to sleep.

Not all who use drugs are drug abusers, and when they go into recovery is best left to them, as Vancouver’s stunningly successful InSite program has shown, as leaving that decision in their hands has had an 80% success rate in getting them off drugs permanently, versus forcing them to comply against their wishes with a coerced recovery program, which has consistently failed to remove even one person from the throes of addiction.

The bottom line is that the availability of a home should not be contingent upon society’s approval of the personal lives or choices of those in need of assistance.

At the end of the day, that superiority does not put one roof over one person’s head, and I would also argue that a person suffering from addiction is, also, the last person who should be put on the street, where they are likely to grow sick or die; not because of their choices, but because of the insincerity and judgement of those who believe they aren’t worthy of assistance, and at a time in life when they must affirm that they are worth fighting for in order to break the habit, that would be the city tacitly telling them that no, they aren’t worth the effort.

You might as well be handing them the needle yourself at that point.

The notion that we must choose amongst those in need who gets housing and who doesn’t is a false one. We have the resources, space, and accommodations to ensure that not one person needs to sleep on the street — it is time we start bringing these people inside.

It rains here, you know.

I was homeless for sixty days, preferable to staying in what was a hellishly abusive relationship. I worked my ass off, never missed a shift of work, had my cat with me the whole time, and never gave up. I’m not homeless anymore, and have my own place now.

What the city needs — and i say this as someone who has lived this problem — is housing now. Not in the future, now.

The market rate is the problem, it must be forcibly cut, whether it wants to be or not. No more yuppie condominiums, full freeze on all non-affordable construction. The city must institute a law that requires rent rate drops for units that go vacant for more than 80 days, with preferences based on places of employment banned and preferences given to those who are city residents looking to find new housing after being priced from their old housing. The city or affiliated non-profits should be given preferential dibs on all new properties up for sale, and they should be restored, and leased, at half of the market rates, with the preferences I specified.

Amazon’s jobs pay the bills, but their presence is destroying our lives, and when Paul Allen can dictate streetcar lines, substation construction (that I live next to and theyre rotten and horrible to us), and kick out a low-income nursery school to make room for more yuppie studios at $1800/mo a pop, something is severely fucking wrong.

We tried it the techie way, and that has failed. We need to implement these changes immediately.

Casey Evans is a writer, musician, and activist in Seattle, WA. A proud Cascadian, writer for Seattle Planet Magazine, and contributor for ExtraNewsfeed.com, Casey reports and offers commentary on politics, culture, spirituality, and life in the Pacific Northwest.

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