Drugs and homelessness are a losing combination for Seattle
May 11, 2023
With late payments and unsigned contracts to non-profit social service organizations piling up, The King County Regional Homelessness Authority is making it even harder for local organizations to serve the populations they were created to help. An article in The Seattle Times says these organizations are being forced to take on credit card debt or cut staff and services to avoid closing their doors. “There’s a lack of confidence in the (Regional Homelessness Authority’s) ability to put the basics first,” said Alison Eisinger, executive director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.
Despite rampant disorganization and a lack of public approval, the KCRHA released a statement saying they still plan to move forward with their hugely expensive 5-year plan. The statement says they will release the details of the plan “sometime in May” and vote on it June 1, which offers little time for input or public review.
While we don’t know what’s in the plan, we can be reasonably sure based on their priorities and previous statements that it will spend billions of taxpayer dollars on the same things that have failed in the past while ignoring the root cause of most homelessness – addiction.
Democrats in the state legislature have added fuel to the fire through their recent refusal to pass a bill that would have prevented full drug legalization statewide starting July 1. A writer in the Seattle Times called this “one of the worst policy face-plants I’ve seen in local politics going back 30 years.” Democrats control the House, Senate and Governorship in Washington, but could not decide how to handle the drug epidemic – so they simply did nothing. Because of that, possession of even the most dangerous drugs like heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamines will be legalized across the state. A state in which hundreds of people are dying as a result of drugs every month.
Fortunately, some cities around the state are advancing their own solutions to address this at the local level. In both Marysville and Bellingham, their city councils have voted to make public use of a controlled substance without a prescription a misdemeanor subject to arrest.
Two members of the Seattle City Council and City Attorney Ann Davison are also moving to make drugs illegal in the city. “Our hands-off approach to people using illegal drugs in public has resulted in rampant street crime and a death toll rivaling that of COVID-19 in Seattle,” said Seattle Councilmember Sara Nelson. “Complacency is no longer an option. Cities have laws and enforcement to dissuade activity that is harmful to oneself and to others – from speeding in school zones to unlawful possession of firearms – and public use of deadly drugs should be no exception.”
Washington faces serious challenges that are on track to get worse in the years to come if we don’t get serious about solutions. It’s time to get to the root of these problems and restore commonsense change for the state.