Economic Alliance Sept. 27 panel discussion to explore idea of homelessness as a housing problem

Economic Alliance Snohomish County and the Common Cause Partner Campaign are teaming up to present a panel discussion on homelessness and housing.The conversation will take place during a Tuesday, Sept. 27 livestream of EASC’s online series Coffee Chats entitled Homelessness is a Housing Problem.

The goal, organizers said, is to educate the public on the needs for mixed-use housing as the most impactful solution for unsheltered and rent-burdened community members.

The Common Cause Partner Campaign is a collaboration of nonprofit organizations and key community stakeholders whose shared missions are to end homelessness in Snohomish County. The campaign aims to empower everyday citizens to become housing champions alongside local leadership.

“Our goal is for people to understand the grave need for a variety of housing solutions in Snohomish County,” said Joan Penney, communications director at Common Cause Partner Campaign…

Penney will be featured as one of the panelists during this upcoming discussion. She will be joined by Chris Collier, program manager at Housing Authority of Snohomish County and Gregg Colburn, assistant professor of real estate in the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments and author of the book Homelessness is a Housing Problem.

From the event announcement:

Colburn, whose book shares a name with the upcoming EASC event, began researching homelessness after moving to Seattle in 2017. When he looked at cities with varying numbers of homelessness based on poverty, mental health treatment factors and drug use, it became clear that housing plays an immense role in homelessness. Most academics agree with Colburn’s findings, but much of the public has yet to be convinced.

Registered attendees for this free, online discussion will be encouraged to participate by asking the panelists questions. The event will stream on Zoom from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 27. Click here for more information and to register.


  1. Well if you are to give free housing without any requirement to address the reasons why you became homeless then you have solved nothing just increased taxpayer liability and opened the door for more people to just give up. In San Francisco they spend more than 100 thousand per homeless person just imagine how much it would cost if they were given housing on top of all those services. Personally this whole homeless industrial complex need to defunded/abolished and a new system based on mandatory treatment and individual accountability needs to be put in its place.

  2. I’ve heard of just stating the obvious, but this takes doing that to unknown heights. It’s like saying death is a dying problem. Well, yes, yes indeed it is. That doesn’t make it one simple problem with one simple solution. There are many reasons that people become homeless just like there are many reasons people become dead long before they should. We need governmental and private industry systems working together that help and encourage people getting a roof over their heads, just like we need public health agencies and private hospitals to keep people alive as long as possible and desirable. It is pretty easy to help folks that really want help and pride of accomplishment, but not so easy to help the folks that just want to escape it all. Everything is a factor, not just the “availability” of housing.

  3. Homelessness is “NOT” a Housing Problem. It stems from a Catastrophic loss of Family.
    Who is talking about the root causes?
    Guess I am not an Academic and need convincing.

    1. David family is one of the most important things. I think with the chronic homeless they have burned all their bridges with family and for that matter friends and employer’s. I think if we as society would force rehabilitation that family and friends and employer’s would give them another chance. And no simple detox or mental health assessment treatment doesn’t give them the tools they need. I am not a expert either but my guess is a program would have to be a minimum of 3 months and for many a year and some may need to become wards of the state.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how we try to make complicated things simple and simple things complicated. Housing availability is only one aspect of solving homelessness. Charity beginning at home is another (people taking care of their own as a family matter). Family help is a great idea in theory but often a failure in reality, as Jim points out so well above. You can love someone to death, but if their need for a fix is greater than their love back for you, forget about helping them.

    For the homeless person in the situation only because of temporary poverty or plain bad luck, a government built tiny home with rules and regulations looks like a gift from God. Pretty simple solution.

    For the homeless person in the situation because of addiction or mental illness or often both; that same government tiny home looks like a form of prison where rules are enforced and expectations of behavior held preventing the person from doing as they please. Not a simple solution in this case.

    Using the same housing availability solution for everyone experiencing homelessness is just not going to work. It’s over simplistic and not practical for all.

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