The 2019 King County Point in Time County data showed that there were 11,199 people experiencing homelessness across the region. This included 5,971 people sheltered in emergency shelters, safe havens and transitional housing and 5,228 people on the streets, in vehicles or staying in tents or encampments.
These numbers represented a 17% decrease in unsheltered people – the first decrease in homelessness in the region in the past seven years.
In March 2005 King County developed a ten-year plan to “end homelessness.”
Fast forward ten years to 2015 when King County/Seattle couldn’t end homelessness and then declared a “state of emergency” on the homeless crisis.
Since then, they have been spending over a BILLION a year to solve the homeless crisis. A BILLION taxpayer dollars a year for the end result of a 17% decrease (which took seven years to achieve).
A report done by McKinsey & Company consulting firm now estimates that it will cost between $450 million to $1.1 billion a year over 10 years to fully house the homeless and low-income population.
The study states that the county has spent billions of taxpayer dollars and their “best efforts have been aimed at the symptoms of this problem and not at its root causes.”
Apparently the solution is to build additional affordable housing that will require substantial incremental public spending. As the study notes though, “building alone will not fix the problem.”
Also from the study:
“It is common to lay the blame for homelessness on individual failures and personal weaknesses. More than one civic source has attributed homelessness to addiction. Others cite mental health or a failure of “personal responsibility.” People point to alcohol abuse and, in the case of veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder, as possible root causes. In fact, the majority are not addicts, and very few people cite substance abuse as a root cause of homelessness.”
McKinsey & Company’s conclusion: “Seattle and King County can set an example for other coastal cities battling homelessness by confronting homelessness in a fact-driven manner melding head and heart. The region’s prosperity ought to be an impetus and catalyst for positive change. Reducing homelessness to near-zero levels should be the collective goal.”
Read the whole study here.
The majority of homeless in King County are not substance abusers nor do they have mental illness issues? That’s news to me.
In the Seattle area, it is estimated that 46-70% of homeless women and men report having substance abuse issues. And last July it was reported mental-health detentions had surged in King County, with homeless people more likely to return. From the Seattle Times story:
“People with housing instability represented 25% of all involuntary treatment cases from 2014 through 2018, and 41% of people with at least three prior cases, according to the auditor’s office report. More than 50% of people with unstable housing returned to the system within three years, compared to 36% of people with stable housing.”
My prediction: Fast forward to 2030 and after $11 BILLION taxpayer dollars has been spent, you are still going to have a homeless crisis in King County. After all, “fact-driven” solutions that ignore obvious root causes of homelessness only fund$ the homeless industrial complex.