There are better ways to help the homeless
March 23, 2023
Homelessness is at a crisis point in Washington. The homeless population has surpassed nearly every other state in America. The homeless are people in our communities that are struggling, and we need to help them rather than just throw taxpayer money on initiatives that do not address the underlying issues. It is no exaggeration to say that the state’s handling of homelessness is an historic failure.
I know what it’s like to be homeless. I know what it’s like to wonder what your next meal is and how to get what you need to be successful. This issue is not only important to me — it is personal.
When I found myself living in Denny Park, I knew I had to turn things around. I got a job as a laborer, worked hard, and was blessed. I want everyone to have that chance. Unfortunately, local government makes that nearly impossible.
I’m a businessman. I care about businesses. I serve as President of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of King County and as a board member for the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce because I actively seek to help people and communities thrive. Small businesses are the heart and soul of this country, of our state, but the impact of these unhelpful policies on these vital enterprises is not even a consideration when it comes to homelessness.
The impact of these failed policies devastates entire communities. Small business owners’ livelihoods are threatened by the safety issues that homelessness brings, and people simply do not want to visit particularly affected areas – and these areas are multiplying instead of reducing. Almost every large city in Washington is plagued with homelessness, and it’s causing people not to visit, not to bring their business to local shops and restaurants. People are afraid and that’s understandable. Meanwhile, the business owners have relied on their government, waiting for 10 years for a solution that never came. They maintain hope that there will be a real solution to homelessness, but it has only gotten worse- and there is no end in sight.
The fact is, we know a lot about what does not work because we have done a lot of it in the past. Let’s learn from that history so we can help people in the future. None of the proposals we see from the government respect small businesses.
One of the biggest challenges homeless people face is integration back into society. They are isolated and alone, and in an environment where substance abuse and crime are a daily part of life. It does not get people back on their feet when the proposed solutions kneecap their progression towards success.
An inconvenient fact remains: That there is an industry around homelessness itself, and it seeks to sustain itself at all costs. People close to government get rich on the public dime while homeless people see no relief at all.
The King County Homeless Authority proposes to spend $12 billion over the next five years on the same failed programs. However, there is not one shred of evidence to suggest that the continuation of the same failed ideas will work in the future. We’re supposed to lift people up to realize their American Dream, but that will not happen under this proposal.
Imagine: We spend that money in a way that supports small businesses, preventing people from falling into poverty in the first place. We spend it in a way that supports the homeless population by training job skills, supporting mental health, and administering effective addiction counseling.
Let’s come together to find a solution that does not waste billions of dollars on “help” that only helps the rich get richer and perpetuates the problem it pretends to address.
Please contact the governing board of the King County Homeless Authority and let them know their 5 year plan is too expensive and focuses on the wrong solutions. They should start the planning process over again. Serve your community, support your local small business, and make your voice heard.
Chairman of the Ethnic Chambers of Commerce