City Hall must stop harassing homeless campers and learn to help them
By George Howland Jr
Here’s the big news out of the 2017 One Night Count of the homeless: illegal encampments will continue. It’s a simple problem of numbers: too many homeless people and too little money to help and house them. Instead of harassing homeless campers, City Hall needs to figure out how to make the best of this tragic situation.
The first number: the best estimate of the number of homeless people in Seattle is 8,522. That figure comes from the chart on page 9 of All Home’s 2017 Count Us In report. Of those, 3,857 are living outside and 4,665 are living in shelters, safe havens and transitional housing.
The estimated cost of building a new studio apartment of affordable housing in Seattle is $250,000 (more for larger units). To build all of Seattle’s homeless persons an apartment would cost over $2 billion dollars. The city does not have that kind of money. The entire city’s general-fund budget is $1.2 billion. And it’s not like the city can stop paving streets, operating libraries, maintaining parks and paying police officers and firefighters.