OH GIVE ME A HOME…

Once upon a time, you could have a different opinion on a topic and not be instantly labeled a jerk or insensitive or worse.

You’re a Republican or Democrat?  Independent?  Cool.  It’s what you believe, we all have the best interest of this country at heart—we just have different ways of getting there. Got it!

I don’t know when the shift began or maybe it’s a generational thing, but we’ve become a society of “If it’s not my way, I’m not going to play!” (see Kentucky) Rather than allowing people to have opinions and then go with what the majority wants, there are now clear-cut lines that you are simply not allowed to cross over.

This week, I’m tackling one of those topics:  homelessness.  Prepare to call me a jerk.

Seattle has a serious homeless problem that is getting worse by the year.  Yet, the politically correct way to talk about homelessness is to do everything in our power to make them more comfortable.  Not get them out of their situation, just enable it.

That doesn’t work for me.

Now, when you drive along I-5 in Seattle, you see little camping tents set up under freeway overpasses or on hillsides.  The residents will get up, spend the day panhandling or begging for funds to continue their barely-getting-by lifestyle only to wake up the next day and do it again. Some see it as a reminder of the homeless issue.  Others see them and feel guilty, as if WE have failed them.

For you 30s and under, it never used to be this way.  Oh, sure, in the 1920s after the Stock Market crash, little shanty towns sprung up where people lived until they could get back on their feet.  It was a tentative existence until the economy turned around. But the residents of those villages never ever planned to stay their the rest of their lives.  Today’s homeless seem to be content with their surroundings, and homelessness has become a lifestyle.

Seattle and the Misdirected Compassionates (I should register that term) have created conditions that cause these pup tent apartments and villages to be an acceptable option.  They are not.

Seattle’s current philosophy on the homeless:

Regardless of history, drugs or alcohol abuse, anyone who has chosen to live this lifestyle is a saint.  Their welfare comes before those of tax-paying citizens, as our politicians set up tent villages in areas far from their homes but close to ours.

Church members gather together to pack sandwiches, drop them off, then drive home while patting themselves on the back.  Of course, they don’t do that for every meal every day, but one day a week or a month and they’re able to feel a little less guilty.

I don’t remember “Thou shalt be coddled and waited on by people who work and have earned everything they’ve got.”  I do remember “Helping the poor.”  Helping.  An active form of the word, “help.”

Enabling, accommodating, coddling, and tolerating is not helping. Forcing a homeless camp into a neighborhood because the city claims it knows best is not helping.

People who are down on their luck need real help and real solutions.  Job training, counseling, a safe place to live temporarily while they make the effort to help themselves.

You say, “Well, Tim, that’s going to cost a lot of money.”  In 2014, Seattle spent $40-million on homeless services.  Add to that all the efforts of churches and private social agencies and you can see we have the weapons to fight this plague. Instead, we opt to show compassion, at any cost.  Well, $40-million last year, to be exact.

To get ahold of this issue, perhaps we need a Homeless Czar. Someone that leads the efforts of the city and county and enforces it.  You’re homeless?  Here’s how we’ll help you fix that.   Choose to ignore that, continue abusing drugs or alcohol and prepare to suffer the legal consequences.

Oh, that’s right.  There are laws.   I was driving through Bothell yesterday and noticed there were white letters painted on the freeway pillars, saying “No trespassing.”   That’s right, it’s actually illegal to just toss a tent up anywhere and call it home. The burbs enforce it.  The city of Seattle feels the compassionate response is to ignore it.

I’ll cover for you on the next response: “But Tim, you can’t just arrest those people.”  No, you give them warnings.  If they ignore them, then they do get arrested.  If you make the threat real, word will spread.  Seattle is NOT where to go when you’re homeless. Go to any suburb, try that and you will be arrested.

You see, what they’re doing is against the law.  We are currently ignoring all kinds of laws—vagrancy, trespassing, etc—because, currently, homelessness buys you lots of leeway.

“But we just need to ignore those laws.”  OK, so which laws do you want to ignore?  Do we all get to ignore them or just the homeless?  And which ones are you keeping?  We live in a society of laws.  Otherwise, you have anarchy.

Our Homeless Czar should compare notes with other major cities about how they’re handling this issue. I remember traveling to Japan a couple of decades ago and saw a homeless guy, begging. One guy.  I asked our guide if homelessness was a problem in Japan and she told me that being homeless was a great shame to the family, so they often would take care of it themselves.

The way I see it, there are three ways to deal with the homeless situation:  Keep feeding it and hope that it fixes itself, do everything in our power to just hide it away from our sight, or make a commitment to really deal with what’s happening out there.

Think about it—Seattle spent $40-million on the homeless issue and yet, it continues to get worse.  There are people who have found themselves living on the streets due to unfortunate circumstances.  We have too much at our disposal not to offer help to those in need.

But again, they need real help, not “feel good” enabling.

Tim Hunter

tents

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