Seattle street campers: 20,000 at least

While the politicians in Portland and Salem continue to dither around, burning through hundreds of millions of dollars and getting pretty much nowhere on the "homeless" crisis, here's a story from OPB about one approach that's making a little headway in Seattle. But man, is it ever a spit in the ocean:

Seattle is battling one of the more intractable homeless crises in the country. There are at least 40,000 unhoused people in King County. Not all live in camps. Many fall into an invisible population: those moving their cars every night so as not to be found sleeping in them, staying in shelters or crashing in their buddy's basement. County officials say the number of unsheltered people — those living in tents a few feet from the interstate or in broken-down cars without heat — is 20,000 at minimum.

I'm not sure that what they're doing in the Seattle program is the answer. But at least it's an answer. Which is more than what we're getting down the freeway in Portland.

"Never before have I seen so many people living so far from the structures of society," says Lisa Daugaard, the architect of the JustCARE program. Daugaard is also the Executive Director of the Public Defender Association....

Truly reducing the number of unhoused, unsheltered people in Seattle would require JustCARE to scale up significantly. Daugaard concedes her program is not positioned to grow exponentially. She imagines a kind of open-source model, where other practitioners would draw fundamental lessons from this program.

I'd love to hear her reaction to what's going on, or not, down here. 


  1. When the “same old people” come up with different solutions to a problem they’ve badly handled. I want to propose that new people would be a better place to start.
    No, I won’t hold my breath.

  2. We are still stuck thinking that enabling equals compassion. How people got to this place is fairly irrelevant at this point. Time to define what is acceptable and what is not. If I don't pay my property taxes, I lose my house. What are the consequences for trashing and endangering the neighborhood?

    1. The absence of consequences began in this culture when we stopped holding adolescents accountable.

    2. "The absence of consequences began in this culture when we stopped holding adolescents accountable."

      Okay, boomer. You do realize that this is the lament of older generations since time immemorial, right? Maybe our current crises have something to do with the almost complete destruction of social safety nets begun by Reagan and perpetuated by all those who have come after, including the Dems.

  3. Friendly reminder that Metro voters approved taxes to provide "Supportive Housing Services," not to reduce homelessness. Look through the Voters' Pamphlet at the time and you'll see many of the opposition statements highlighted the fact that most of the money was earmarked to provide housing vouchers to people who were already housed. Some money was to be used for job training and another chunk would be used to teach tenants how to sue their landlords. Very little of the money was to be used to move people from the streets to shelter. It was all right there for voters to see. But, we the voters heard what we wanted to hear and passed it.


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