KOMO News really changed the discussion surrounding homelessness with its “Seattle is Dying” special earlier this year. Before that special was released, the conversation being mediated by so-called experts was largely about income inequality and rising rents. But those issues, while they certainly deserve to be part of the conversation, didn’t cover a lot of the things that business owners and cops experience every day on the streets. “Seattle is Dying” brought the conversation back to drugs, alcohol, mental illness, and what to do for people who don’t seem to want help.
Before I get to the video, KOMO had a story a few days ago which suggested there are indeed a lot of people on the streets who don’t want the help they are being offered:
A majority of people who the city’s Navigation Team referred to shelters this year did not take the referral and go to the shelter, according to new data released by the city…
The data shows during the first quarter of 2019, of the 203 people who received referrals to shelters from the Navigation Team, 53 of them enrolled within two days of getting that referral. That’s only about one-quarter of the individuals who got referrals that actually went to the shelters.
During the second quarter of 2019, the number of individuals who took the referral from the Navigation Team and went to the shelters rose slightly to about one-third. It showed of the 224 people who were referred to shelters, 75 enrolled in the shelters within two days.
Why would homeless people rather sleep outside than go to a shelter? Ironically it’s because they don’t want to be around a bunch of drug addicts with mental problems:
Andrew Constantino, who now lives in a tiny house village, had similar concerns with shelters. Constantino described the rules at shelters as “almost punitive.” He said staying at shelters gives people very little agency over their own life and own decisions.
“It’s just not very good conditions for humans to live under,” Constantino said in interview earlier this year. “You’re sleeping six inches away from a stranger, often that stranger has untreated or undiagnosed mental health issues or they might be struggling with addiction issues — or they’re scared.”
This week, KOMO News released a sequel of sorts to “Seattle is Dying” that includes a follow-up look at homelessness in Seattle but also takes a broader look at what is happening in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s titled “A Tale of 3 Cities.”
Speaking of Seattle, reporter and narrator Eric Johnson said not much has changed though in some ways the situation has gotten worse. Where police used to have an unofficial 3-gram rule for drug arrests, the new standard is the 7-gram rule.
As for the solution which Johnson’s earlier documentary proposed, there was lots of interest in how Providence, Rhode Island is addressing the homeless problem. The city held a two-day seminar for leaders from around the country, but no one from Seattle or King County attended it. “The trap we have set for ourselves through policy that holds hardly anyone accountable for hardly anything is still set,” Johnson said.
The last four minutes of the special deals with additional changes made in Seattle since the first special was released. If you stick through to the end you’ll see that new signage doesn’t necessarily mean much has changed.
The west coast’s progressive leaders are at war with reality and human nature. Not surprisingly, reality is winning. Hopefully, news reports like this one will ensure that mayors and city council members in these cities aren’t able to retreat further into their progressive bubble where the only problem they can see is a lack of affordable housing.