Reader view: How much does it cost us to ‘other’ the homeless?

Jenna Nand

Gov. Jay Inslee is requesting another $100 million to clear out homeless encampments in Washington state. Wild statistics in the media speculate that the state government spent approximately $1 million per homeless person who was helped to transition out of homelessness by forcibly clearing encampments, confiscating belongings and using the collective might of its authority to punch down on some of the most vulnerable people in our region. All on the taxpayer’s dime.

My takeaway from this statistic might be different than many of the conservative commentators who have opined about the government’s spending to fix one of our country’s most pressing issues: How to reintegrate a population that is openly reviled and alienated from our hyper-capitalist, winner-takes-all society. A society which worships Donald Trump, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos as its new emperors but openly mocks homeless men who are killed by trash compactors when they seek shelter from the cold in dumpsters. A society which defines the value of a human being by the contents of his or her stock portfolio.

As I think the oligarchs of the 21st century are learning, to our collective detriment, quashing a democratic republic in favor of a plutocratic empire is a costly endeavor. As many politicians and TV commentators — including my mentor, Richard Painter — lament, the American middle class of the mid-20th century was not an accident. It was created by marginal tax rates on the wealthy of 91% that forced corporations to actually disperse their excess revenue to their workers rather than hoarding it all at the management and shareholder levels. Forced to return the wealth that they created to the workers themselves, our economy boomed and our civil society flourished, leaping ahead with a Civil Rights Movement and Women’s Liberation Movement that yielded long-sought victories like Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade.

Equality is cheap because it is natural. If I have an apple and you don’t have an apple, I’ll cut my apple in half and share it with you. I would rather be half hungrier than to have my belly full and have to watch you starve with my own eyes. Suffering is painful to all who have empathy.

Inequality is expensive because it goes against human nature. It requires greater and greater artificial separation between “classes” of humans, until the aristocracy has to build a Versailles on the backs of its own starving peasantry to try to maintain the illusion of its innate superiority. This system of government usually collapses spectacularly from within after generations of indolence and rot. Ask the Romans, ask the Confederates, ask the Russian Tsars, this is the fate of all societies based on artificial inequality.

I don’t want to live in Versailles. I don’t want to deny the humanity of my fellow humans. I don’t want my grandchildren to meet the guillotine, or whatever form Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) will take in the 22nd century. I don’t want future generations of Americans to hate people who have more or less material possessions than they do. I don’t want a “real” American to be defined by his or her bank account.

This “us versus them” attitude is the last thing we should be promoting in this time of deep political polarization and widespread distrust in government and societal institutions. No one “wins” when our society ceases to function due to “othering” and open hostility between neighbors. No matter who has the McMansion and who has the tent.

As the state is learning with its speculated million-dollar-per-capita ramp out of homelessness, it costs a lot more time, money and effort to mend a broken human being than to protect him or her from being broken in the first place. This is a tradeoff; we can invest in public services for underserved segments of society to improve quality of life for everyone, or we can pay much more for law enforcement activity to antagonize over-policed communities and “other” their offspring further. “Othering” our neighbors creates a vicious intergenerational cycle.

The disaffection of our youth, and the attendant crimes of despair that we are seeing skyrocket, were accelerated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As Vice President Kamala Harris put it, this virus had eyes, and it killed the most vulnerable among us. COVID-19 disrupted our way of life and exacerbated the effects of other public health crises like the opioid epidemic.

How do we fight despair? That’s hard. What is slightly less hard is fighting poverty, often the root cause of despair.

If one area in a region has a demonstrably lower quality of life due to less positive investment, like fewer parks, fewer public amenities, fewer well-heeled schools, fewer of everything except fewer crimes, then all of the other parts of the region should rationally find it to be mutually beneficial to invest taxpayer funds into the underfunded area.

From a perspective of pure self-interest, all parts of a region should pursue investments in public goods that would lessen criminal activity, which disproportionately pulls law enforcement resources into this underserved part of the region. We all have to pay for public safety in our area in a nearly per capita fashion, from the police force to the firefighters. And we are all at least tangentially affected by the rising crime rate, though some are more directly affected than others.

I thought about researching statistics to prove that unequal investment of public funds is ultimately a drain on the productivity of our society, but I honestly don’t think it’s necessary. We all intuitively understand that equality is less expensive than inequality because it is rational. E.g, if my neighbor needs to be incarcerated due to drug addiction and crimes of desperation, then he is a drain on public resources. But if my neighbor is clean and sober and able to function in our society again, not only is he not a drain on public resources, he can actually be a taxpaying contributor to public coffers.

In my law school game theory class, we learned that this is a tactic called “cooperative tit-for-tat” that was usually the most successful tactic in any rational game. To try to distill Prof. Francesco Parisi’s excellent class down to one sentence: If I can trust my neighbor and my neighbor can trust me to keep our promises to each other and work together, we can win together.

Let’s stop despairing at our collective misery and try to win together again. In my eyes, saving a human life is worth nine figures on a balance sheet any day. I view the hundred-million-dollar ask by Gov. Inslee as an investment in ending an intergenerational cycle of poverty that will otherwise plague our state for decades to come and cost our society billions of dollars in the future. But I’m just one voice and one vote in a still-functioning democracy.

— By Jenna Nand

Jenna Nand lives in Edmonds and also serves on the Edmonds City Council

  1. As a country we have spent trillions on inequality and yet we seem to have a growing amount of it why? We offer the homeless help that for many is rejected because it comes with rules like being sober and having a job yet many of those people take the free phone the food and medical benefits free orca card etc.. How do you help people that don’t want to live within the norms of civil society? Do you buy them a house a car pay for fancy vacations? I don’t know the exact cost to help but a million dollars per person is to high and how we are doing it isn’t working because the problem continues to grow. Why work if government is going to pay for everything with no personal requirement to be productive members of society and to top it off not hold the same people accountable for their crimes they commit to get their drugs or air jordans. The poor no longer think they can get ahead through hard work they think they deserve to be given what “others” have worked for until you change the mindset you are just going to be pouring taxpayers money down the drain. Certainly we should give people a hand up but the way we are doing it is very inefficient and ineffective.

  2. Our government promise a guarantee of the RIGHT to the pursuit of happiness (not happiness itself) by providing freedom and justice for all. I’m not sure a government can or should guarantee a “right” to equality for all. Things like intellect, physical and mental health and ability and even having competent parenting cannot be guaranteed and are pretty much the luck of the draw whether we like it or not. We are all given a hand to play and some get better hands than others and some play them smarter.

    I’m not sure what the author is arguing for government to do and she should be more precise in what she thinks government can and should do for the people she labels “the most vulnerable among us.” For example, should there be a floor of minimum housing and diet guaranteed to all? Should there be guaranteed competent mental and physical health and drug treatment plans for all? Should there be an amount of income that is considered a ceiling of reasonable need with all excess income being taxed at high rates?

    Politically, we all believe what we want to believe. The ultimate stupidity to me is average income earners now sending the ultra rich (he claims) Donald Trump money to pay his lawyers. Fools and their money . . .

    1. Clinton What they fail to tell you is more than 60% of fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware please explain how a 40 year senator and now president is not bought and paid for? Gosh I used to think having the wool pulled over my eyes was because of my long hair. I don’t know who supports Trump but I can guarantee they aren’t as bought and paid for as Biden supporters.

      1. Corporations file their articles of incorporation in Delaware mainly because it is a state with a judicial system that is well trained and deeply qualified to adjudicate issues surrounding corporate legal matters. It has nothing to do with Biden or any political representative. It has to do with going before a court that understands basic and complex legal matters of incorporation.

        1. Lis companies incorporate in Delaware because of its favorable tax structure theses businesses spend a lot of money getting who they want elected to represent them a long term senator carries a lot of weight in the federal government and does work in the interest of those companies like federal tax policy Biden has been the poster child for these companies for decades. Want bought and paid for you need look no further than Biden.

        2. Jim
          Yes favorable taxes go hand in hand with an experienced court structure. As for bought and paid for, we’ve tried and failed to impose term limits in order to avoid, in some way, the power of money in politics as well as unsuccessful attempts to curb or quantify political donations. If we feel our representatives are bought and paid for it’s up to us to change it but I’ve yet to see a major national movement in that direction.

        3. Lis I am not buying well trained and qualified. Yes we a land of laws and each place gets to make them for themselves using basic principles that have been manipulated to favor themselves of course within the law. I will agree our problems with leaders is our own fault we have put them there noting I don’t vote in Delaware. I would note also the lawyers in this state overrode the vote/will of the people about 30 dollar car tabs. How are we to effect change when our leaders won’t even respect our decisions? Closer to home we had a city in a decent financial position and we have had a leader that spent record revenues and federal money and all of our reserves has raised taxes and still can’t balance a budget. I digress getting way off topic. Interesting prospective though.

      2. Jim, I’m not going to sing any praises about Biden and I’m not a democrat, but who are these “THEY” who fail to tell about Delaware 500 companies that you presume others don’t know about? Delaware is the 2nd smallest state but with a population of just over a million it ranks as the 6th highest in population density. Much like the British Virgin Islands, corporations flock there because it offers the least tax/control for both legitimate and corrupt businesses and not because of Biden or Trump, but because of greed all on it’s own. The idea of you making any guarantee about anyone being more bought and paid for than Donald is as worthless as Donald himself.

        1. Jeff I am not here to sing the praises of Trump but his name was brought up. Did you notice no mention of leaders that have been bought and paid for by big business in this country? I was just showing that political leaders like Biden often make decisions based on what is good for big business. This should be extra apparent because of the state Delaware he was senator for/for nearly 40 years. Please take all the wealth from the richest people plus tax their business at 90% and see the greatest depression the world has ever faced. The rich even say they should pay more but the problem is government would spend every penny and increase the debt and claim they need more next year., who is left to tax? Who created tax policy that allowed people like Trump to succeed that’s right government did who has been a very influential politician for the last 50 years well that would be Joe.

      3. Jim – if you don’t know who supports trump, as you say, then how can you “guarantee they aren’t as bought and paid for as Biden supporters”? And how did trump & biden even get into this discussion?

        1. I brought up Biden, Trump was mentioned in the article. Two sides to each coin. My trust in government is no better than my trust in big business. Probably because they are different sides of the same coin. I understand we need government and business, but both need to be under constant scrutiny, checks and balances.

      4. Jim, unless all these fortune 500 companies incorporated in Delaware within the 40 year span of Biden’s impact on state and federal politics, your argument seems a little flimsy and based on assumptions of the truth rather than what may or not be the actual truth. I’m not defending Biden, necessarily, as the idea of either of those two (and too) old, and often confused, Dudes having their fingers on the trigger of Nukes, that could end the world overnight, makes me pretty nervous. Why the best we can do is come up with two old has bins to run for the most powerful position in the country is beyond me. Our party system is going to be our undoing, if we don’t wise up soon. George Washington actually predicted all this; if we ended up with a party system for choosing leaders, which we did. I’m thinking ranked choice voting and getting rid of the Electoral College might be a good ideas.

        1. Getting rid of the Electoral College. Good luck! The smaller States would never go for it and it would never pass the Constitutional hurdles because there’s more of them by number than larger population States. Sometimes it’s not greatest system but the current is one is better than than all its alternatives.

        2. Brian and Clint, we don’t need to get rid of the Electoral College, just circumvent it. If states with a majority of electoral votes (270 or more) agree to assign their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote~ then presto, we have a true popular vote election for President and Vice President while leaving the antiquated electoral college intact.

          This proposal is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, and so far it’s been agreed to by states with 205 electoral votes, including Washington. Search on that name for more information.

        3. Get rid of the electoral college and you disenfranchise half the country, best of luck with that one the idea behind our country, one versus the other is to force compromise. Something we are lacking locally, regionally, state and federal. I can say problem we have today regionally are a result of one party not compromising with the other. Would our world be perfect I doubt it. Actually our world is about as good as it has ever been compared to our history so I don’t want to through the baby out with the bathwater. In today’s world, making the world better for the few becomes our biggest government expense. We ask little from our citizens to the point of our problems today. Who in their right mind thinks paying/providing for a ever growing percentage of the population is going to reduce the ill’s of our society? Jenna brought up a good topic we have many ideas here regionally the ideas have all come from one party the success of those ideas are in the pudding or the tent as it might be.

        4. Roger Pence, oh yeah that election scheme is going to go over well. Isn’t it a coincidence that the states have signed on all are basically high population blue states. I mean what could possibly go wrong. There would be a mountain of constitutional and other challenges. Probably disenfranchising many of the states including Texas, Ohio, and Florida,etc.. On the other hand, I have some bridges I’d like to sell to anyone that thinks that’s going to happen anytime soon.

        5. Brian, I don’t grasp your comment about “disenfranchising” various states. A popular vote for President and Vice President equalizes all voters nationwide. Votes by Wyoming voters would count the same as those of California voters, same across all the states.

          In a democratic republic, the candidate with the most votes should prevail. Easy to grasp when you think about it. I can’t fathom why the candidate in second place, with fewer votes from fewer voters, why should he win the office?

    2. Hi Clint,

      Thanks for your feedback. You ask excellent questions that I will probably address in Part II of this letter. I want to wait and see what develops in the state legislature this session before publicly commenting on my thoughts about the social safety net.

      Regards,

      Jenna

  3. I think the rich need to be taxed more. They get rich due to the efforts of the workers. I believe in education and health care for all at low cost. I also treat everyone with compassion from the rich to the panhandler.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Thank you, I completely agree. Part of what made this country great is when 13 exploited colonies decided to combine forces and rebel against the British monarchy. I fear that we have forgotten the lessons our founding fathers attempted to teach us in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution about taking care of each other in the face of adversity.

      The willingness to care about the fate of our fellow Americans, down the street and on the other side of the continent, is what made American democracy one of the most successful experiments in self-governance ever in human history.

    2. Judy:
      Perhaps you are not aware of the current situation. According to the Tax Foundation, the top 1 percent of taxpayers account for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. For some the rich won’t be paying enough until they themselves are paying very little or nothing.

      1. That’s because the top 1% has about as much total wealth than the rest of the 99% combined. Their taxes are laughably minimal compared to the benefits they derive from our society, e.g., Trump and his $750 a year tax payment or Bezos, i.e. Amazon, and their “negative” income tax payment. This is how the American workers who generates this wealth through their labor are being turned into the 3rd estate, a la the French Revolution.

        1. You’ve revealed your partisanship previously and now you’re revealing that you are a socialist. And income taxes are not paid on total wealth, they are paid on annual income.

        2. The bottom line is that 10% or 15% tax on a one million dollar income is a lot less impact on a great life style than the same percentage on a thirty thousand dollar income. Also, wealth and income are related but actually two different things in terms of how they are taxed. Since the Regan era we have been trying to give better tax benefits to the wealthy and corporations because they are claimed to need these breaks to create more jobs and a growing economy in a Capitalist society. Along with these tax breaks we have taken away much of the regulation on big business and banks that was created to fight problems that resulted in the great Depression of the 30’s and early 40’s. Has all this de-taxation and de-regulation made for a better U.S. economy and society? Republicans say yes to this and blame Dem.s for homelessness, crime and drug abuse. Dem.s say no to this and blame R.s for these problems. We believe what we want to believe. I believe there are only good ideas that generally help everyone and bad ideas that help some while hurting others. I believe there is one human race and all other race claims are utter nonsense designed to harm one group for the gain of another.

        3. Ms. Nand above wrote the following:
          That’s because the top 1% has about as much total wealth than the rest of the 99% combined.”

          The top one percent of the US certainly has a great deal of wealth, but not 99 percent of the total US wealth.

          As stated in the following article, that amount is much less.

          I quote the relevant part of the article as well as providing a cite for your review:

          “According to the latest Fed data, the top 1% of Americans have a combined net worth of $34.2 trillion (or 30.4% of all household wealth in the U.S.), while the bottom 50% of the population holds just $2.1 trillion combined (or 1.9% of all wealth).”

          https://www.forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/10/08/top-1-of-us-households-hold-15-times-more-wealth-than-bottom-50-combined/?sh=3ab31a995179

    1. “Inequality of outcome” is starving children dying in the streets. How is that acceptable in any civilized society? Is there no floor of decency towards our fellow human beings anymore in America?

      1. Yikes! Either you support a corrupt bureaucracy or you’re a Scrooge. Interesting. Sincere wishes for a Happy Holidays.

      2. Not at all. Some of the new appropriations being discussed in the state legislature will become available to the cities to supplement our direct human services to vulnerable populations, like the homeless. I really appreciate feedback from our community on how these funds should be spent. That’s why I wrote this letter.

      3. Jenna

        Could you please provide government statistics as to the number of “starving children dying in the streets”?
        Both Washington State and the United States for the past one/ three or five years would be fine.

        Thank you.

  4. My book club just discussed the book “Rough Sleepers” by Tracy Kidder. It gives a lot of insight into the homeless population that frequently is found outside. Most of the stories in the book were of people who experienced trauma as kids or had an untreated mental health disorder- which turned them into addicts. We discussed the importance of mental health services in the schools and providing housing for homeless families in the hopes of ending/preventing the cycle of homelessness. Hoping this investment by the state is used wisely to work on homelessness prevention.

    1. Me, too. I know from personal experience how much work and effort it takes to rescue someone from chronic homelessness and addiction issues by offering them unconditional housing. It cost a lot less than $1 million for him to become a whole, functional person again. But it required years of concerted effort and a lot of trust and compassion to help him heal.

      1. Jenna, how do you determine who gets the free and unconditional housing and nourishment? Does everyone who claims to need it, just get it? My first wife and I did lots of volunteer social work to try to help poor and disadvantaged people thru our church. The hardest part of the whole experience was trying to figure out who really deserved our help and who were just using us to perpetuate a dysfunctional life style of one sort or another. Most all of our clients real problems stemmed from bad or no parenting, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and untreated mental illness. The homelessness and hunger were a symptom and not the problem. Nothing really gets better until we figure out ways to effectively treat the problem itself. All else is a band-aid on an artery bleed. Decriminalizing “immorality” should be the first thing we do. We learned nothing from Prohibition of alcohol and it is now our sacred cow drug to which Pot has been recently added. Only “bad people” use and sell meth, opiates and such. Drug lords run Mexico and South America and we are their enablers and clientele for drugs, crime, violence and horrible crimes against women and children.

  5. Jenna, thank you for writing such a thoughtful letter. At times I feel as if I am alone in this view of the world.
    Prevention is clearly the answer but we’ve dug ourselves into quite a hole so the solution will take a significant amount of time. Time doesn’t seem to be something we are willing to give and finger pointing prevents any real progress.
    I’m with you, I will happily share my apple because I am ultimately selfish and want a healthier community to live in.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I agree, I don’t understand this attitude of fiddling while Rome is burning. Eventually, the fire will reach our house and we will lose everything, too. That is why I am trying to make an economic argument for prevention and amelioration of the homelessness crisis.

  6. When you do not punish criminals to the point where others see crime as a bad option, when you do not eradicate drug traffickers and mitigate drugs flooding into this country by “shutting “ our southern border and stopping further illegal migration, when the public education system teaches that everyone should have everything and those who have “more” are either “lucky” or “greedy”, then this society slips into decline. Ms. Nand, you feel that capitalism is to blame and collectivism AKA socialism, AKA communism is the model we should pursue, you don’t understand that capitalism has brought more people (world wide) out of misery and starvation than any other factor, while socialism is responsible for more death, destruction and human misery than any other model. We in America have the freedom to live a life of “choices” and good choices reap good results while bad choices reap the opposite. We are all born with different abilities and proclivities, and while I support taking care of the disabled, I have no sympathy for those who make stupid decisions and and reap bad outcomes.

    1. Hi, Mr. Demme,

      We’re really going to disagree on this issue because both my fiancé and my best friend experienced addiction issues as young men due to untreated childhood trauma that landed them in jail but have managed to turn their lives around and become productive members of society as older men.

      As a business lawyer, I look at the potential in people and try to help them achieve their dreams. The chance to achieve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is something I want for all of us, no matter where we are born on the socioeconomic spectrum.

      Regards,

      Jenna

  7. Homelessness is complex with mental health, and drug addiction. It seems to me you are demonizing conservatives input because they see how to tackle the situation differently .? Let’s keep throwing money at the problem without presenting real solutions? The American Citizens have heard year after year, this is what we need in our coffers to solve this problem and the problems have grown. https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/homeless/washington-jay-inslee-homelessness-plan/281-d19feaa5-8430-4243-be1b-dd634b5fb3a5
    Real solutions would make drugs impossible to come over the borders. Real solutions would have been immediate treatment instead of giving away, phone, drug paraphernalia to allow continuous use which caused more crime. I want my city and State to be healthy and free from crime. I don’t want any more kids dying from overdoses. What has been done isn’t working. We need more voices in this dire situation not less.

    The extreme wealthy you named are few, compared to the citizens that work tirelessly to support their families, churches and communities. If you tax the rich all of my expenses are also increased because it does trickle down to me and has. It’s unfortunate homelessness in our society is not new, and we have heard over the years how these large budgets will solve the issue but it has not.

    1. Denise, if drugs were not coming over the border, they would be produced domestically because rampant demand makes the illicit drug trade very lucrative to organized crime. The War on Drugs is an intergenerational struggle in our country dating back to the Prohibition Era and various local mafias of the 19th century that trafficked in moonshine, opium, cocaine, etc. long before the issues at our southern border.

  8. Ms. Nand makes a progressive and accusatory case for all of us to eschew “blaming the victim” [or as she terms it – othering] to improve the wellbeing of all in a community. She assumes that the only path to doing so is via government intervention. Commenters point out that government intervention has not only not helped improve their wellbeing but has, in fact, made it worse for many. I would proffer that perhaps this is the time to think out of the box. We need the work of non-governmental agencies [NGOs] to raise funds from willing donors of all economic levels to provide the help to those in the community who need assistance to thrive alongside those who already are comfortable. NGOs that are well-managed have a history of doing so using only 10 – 15% of their donated funds to deliver equal levels of service far more efficiently and effectively than governments at any level do. NGOs can operate rent-to-own housing programs that offer lower income individuals a path to home ownership. I believe in the goodness of people of all types of political leanings. I think that if people were given the opportunity to provide dollars to an efficient and effective NGO in lieu of paying government taxes to provide a lower level of services, they would do so.

    1. Hello Ms. Herrick,

      I think our nonprofit sector does an incredible amount of work to try to cure the ills of our society, but there is only so much that they can do without an adequate budget. That is where government comes in. I was the operations manager of a nonprofit when I was in college and most nonprofits barely have the budget to for fill their mandate.

      Regards,

      Jenna

  9. All decent people would give half their Apple to a neighbor in need. Look no further than the donations and volunteerism displayed by the Edmonds Food Bank. Their community run program is amazing at distributing generosity to those that are hungry. In a government run system, the Apple would be taken in whole from you, cut into quarters, and distributed in the following way: 1/4 back to you, 1/4 to your neighbor and 1/2 for themselves. Both you and your neighbor are more hungry and half of the Apple is totally wasted away. That is not equity, it is theft and everyone is worse for it.

    1. Tim, are you against government employment entirely? Because our hardworking city employees are not volunteers and need to feed themselves and their families, too, while keeping our sewers operational and our streets safe. All of the things we rely on for a civilized society.

      1. I advocate for “limited” government. We could debate what size is appropriate and which jobs are essential. It’s not the sewer, roads, maintenance, or safety workers that are to blame. My argument is that government has only grown in my lifetime, certainly in the area of public assistance delegated to government programs and the outcomes are not broadly better. Especially if you pencil out the cost per success rate for those outcomes at the expense of the productive taxpayer. If something that we’ve tried for decades isn’t working (run-away political class spending), why say, let’s allocate more resources to those failures? I say, take away the public credit card from the non-productive bureaucrats and stop letting them steal our money. Let’s try a limited government approach instead.

  10. Thanks Jenna I appreciate your efforts. A conservative idea might be to force much of the homeless problem into a jail rehabilitation type of scenario probably wouldn’t be much cheaper but better for the citizens of the affected area. No like everything we have tried it is not 100% effective, but what it does do is get people sober and actually gives them a chance at better life with services on the back end.

    1. Thank you, Jim, it’s a conundrum. I know a prosecutor who was approached in public by a defendant he put away for two years on a drug charge. The formerly incarcerated felon told this prosecutor that he had saved his life by sending him to prison and forcing him to get treatment in a controlled setting.

      Diversion and community court is an attempt to force accountability and treatment without incarceration. The ideal would be to fund enough treatment beds for people seeking treatment voluntarily before they’re arrested.

      1. Jenna I am not against diversion sometimes I think our existing court offers it for some things. I even support second chances for some things, my question to you is how many second chances should people get before we jail them? Putting a hard core addict in treatment for 2 weeks might solve the physical withdrawals but the mental part takes much longer and if we let them back out to soon they are likely to fall right back into their old ways the draw is just that powerful. So the whole problem needs many different measures to help depending on circumstance. Maybe for a family or a divorced person we need a program that guarantees loans for first last and deposit to get them into housing maybe we need to raise the social security payout so seniors can afford to pay the rent maybe the best we can do for the drug addicted and or mental illness is to round them up and put them in a jail type facility where they aren’t free to leave until a doctor thinks they have reached a point where they stand a chance on the outside and for some jail is where they probably belong. We have largely been enabling the others that needs to change we need to demand better and enforce it if necessary

    2. I have always believed that we can/should improve what institutional interventions look like, how they function and lead to more individual success. Current models don’t seem to line up with Maslow’s HONs sufficiently and lead to too many cycles of individual failure. I’m also not a fan of profit margins associated with inmate incarceration.

      1. Hi Matthew,

        I completely agree with you. My fiancé (who is okay with me sharing this) was once affected by homelessness due to opioid addiction. He went through Seattle’s Community Court (which Republican City Attorney Ann Davison shut down) and King County’s Drug Diversion Court and is now clean, sober, and a working, taxpaying member of society. I think that that is a net gain for society versus him spending years of his life behind bars for drug crimes.

        Regards,

        Jenna

  11. You would think there would be a glimpse of humility from local leaders and those who empower them? How are those who have been ignored and silenced even a part of this conversation? How can those whose policies have never even been considered be accused of causing or contributing to any of our state’s problems? It has been almost 100 years since Seattle elected a mayor who didn’t toe the party line. It’s time those responsible owned the consequences of their actions, instead of blaming the powerless.

    1. Thank you for predicting that I’m going to end up in Congress! I’m just a 39 year old millennial who serves part time on my city council. I don’t understand why some people are so threatened by my existence.

  12. Unfortunately as noted by many in this thread, the government is not the answer to curing homelessness or drug addiction. We need accountability for the tax dollars and we need results. Every year it’s a new ask for billions to solve and restore lives, a simple google will show this is true. You don’t get to use your fiancée’s drug addiction as a ribbon. Many families have experienced family trauma and not all end up addicts, although mental health is a struggle in many families. You are not the only one who has friends struggling with addiction or has lost someone from addiction. You can’t use your fiancé as an example of what worked for them will work for all, this thought process is saying all addictions/addicts are the same. Starting an opinion piece with conservatives won’t agree is telling who you are serving and it’s not Edmonds. How is this creating One Edmonds? The continuation of National Politics, instead of focusing on Edmonds brings division and I think many of us have had enough of that. Let there be peace and healing in our city. Peace be with you.

  13. Sometimes, spending money does solve a problem.
    For example, during COVID child poverty declined massively due to government spending, which was necessary in order to not tank the US economy despite the incredible disruption COVID caused.
    Recently child poverty has increased again, when the government subsidies stopped.

    Homelessness has increased markedly in the past year in Washington and all across the US, caused by increased rents and increased eviction rates, which were paused during COVID.

    The people I see on the streets might be my neighbors who were able to get by month to month, until an unforeseen cost came along, or a rent increase that was unaffordable. I am sure there is a connection between drug addiction and mental health issues and homelessness, but is the solution to say “don’t camp here” or is it to make sure affordable housing is available?

  14. Peter, the obvious answer to your question is to say “don’t camp here (public spaces not intended for that purpose),” AND to make sure affordable housing (or at least decent and sanitary appropriate camping space) is available to those who must have it to live anything resembling a decent life. This will cost money for sure.

    The thing is, people really trying to make something of themselves or get back on their feet deserve this from a rich country like ours, but people just looking for the easy way out or escape from reality, probably don’t. So far Ms. Nand has not answered my question as to how you tell that difference; or do you just give anyone who says they need it free food and housing? How is it fare that some people just get it for free, while others have to work for it? If we are going to do this as public policy; shouldn’t everyone get some of the money being spent on the problem? Not really expecting honest answers to these questions – just rhetorically asking.

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