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Once during the Reagan years, when social services were being slashed to ribbons and destitute people were being dumped en masse onto the streets, I sort of made fun of a guy on a corner who asked me for money. I've been feeling guilty about it ever since, so I'm probably overly sensitive about the issue.
 

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Oh i agree that it is an absolutely tragic situation, and a searing indictment of our economic system. In fact the other day i was giving a young Saudi woman a ride and asked her what was surprising about our country. she said that her whole family had been socked by the fact that the richest country in the world had people on the streets. I have great hope that the ACA along with an executive order mandating that mental health issues be treated like medical issues will do a lot to get the worse cases off the street.

But from a macro-perspective, you have to be able to laugh sometimes, if only because the whole thing is so ridiculous.
 

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Some, and I understand not all, choose panhandling as a career, and I respect their decision. Therefore I treat them as the owners of their small businesses. I simply see little reason for me to patronize their "services". Less than folks selling Real Change. Less than folks selling their home-made CDs. Less than bucket drummers.

I am not mean-spirited toward any of them. In fact, I am more.... indifferent. They just have a different job that's all. If they all start working for Comcast cable TV, I still would not give a dime, but I don't hate the person.

(probably still not the most politically-correct perspective, but at least honest)
 

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I'm no expert, but I can summarize what I've heard. Federal funding has been cut, and Seattle is panicking about what to do. SHA has put together a plan to encourage people to leave the existing housing to make room for others. On another track, the council and the mayor have plans (not sure if they're the same or competing plans) to put together an advisory group to make recommendations for housing affordability. Murray has said this will be modeled after his minimum wage advisory group.

Meanwhile, the Council has had several advisors tell them that their version of incentive zoning (allowing taller buildings if you include affordable housing) isn't as good as a pure tax for height that can be used to build housing, but is better than straight forcing new construction to provide affordable housing. But overall it's mostly useless.

The real answer, if they would listen, is to just upzone and let the market provide more housing. That would greatly help affordability with those that have employment. We'd still need to provide a large number of housing (and come up with a taxing source) for those that can't work (or, honestly, won't work in some cases), and for those with mental issues. But trying to provide subsidized housing by taxing construction is a terrible strategy. I personally think liquor taxes would be the most appropriate source, but I think the state is keeping that for themselves.
 

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Meanwhile, the Council has had several advisors tell them that their version of incentive zoning (allowing taller buildings if you include affordable housing) isn't as good as a pure tax for height that can be used to build housing, but is better than straight forcing new construction to provide affordable housing. But overall it's mostly useless.

The real answer, if they would listen, is to just upzone and let the market provide more housing.
The real problem I have with current incentive zoning is it taxes only one specific type of new development: high density high rise. That's actually the kind of development that makes best use of limited land, and allows the city to better concentrate services, such as power, sewer, transportation and police/fire.

If the intent is a progressive tax why not include all forms of luxury development, including single family mansions, etc.?

A more effective way is a broad based property tax, which would still be progressive as those owning more valuable property bear a larger percentage of the tax.
 

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The truth is, lower housing costs might help some of the working poor move from living in cars or motorhomes to houses, but it's not going to make the difference for the truly mentally ill, the runaways, and the vagabonds by choice-types. When ever I've read sympathetic articles reporting on the homeless, most of them moved here from other parts of the country, and often times from places with lower housing costs.

However, because they folks often do migrate from county to county or state to state, the federal and state governments should be playing a greater role in addressing this problem, especially where it relates to mental illness.
 

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The truth is, lower housing costs might help some of the working poor move from living in cars or motorhomes to houses, but it's not going to make the difference for the truly mentally ill, the runaways, and the vagabonds by choice-types. When ever I've read sympathetic articles reporting on the homeless, most of them moved here from other parts of the country, and often times from places with lower housing costs.

However, because they folks often do migrate from county to county or state to state, the federal and state governments should be playing a greater role in addressing this problem, especially where it relates to mental illness.
Absolutely, two types of solutions are required. But we can't handwave the transient problem with the mental illness card. The majority of the residents of Nicklesville, for instance, are employed.
 

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Absolutely, two types of solutions are required. But we can't handwave the transient problem with the mental illness card. The majority of the residents of Nicklesville, for instance, are employed.
That's an interesting point. I hadn't read that before. At the risk of sounding callous, I'm a little surprised someone who is working even minimum wage jobs cannot swing the rent for an Apodment or subsidized housing, especially when adding in food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other government and non-profit assistance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)

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That's an interesting point. I hadn't read that before. At the risk of sounding callous, I'm a little surprised someone who is working even minimum wage jobs cannot swing the rent for an Apodment or subsidized housing, especially when adding in food stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and other government and non-profit assistance.
Apparently, 80% of those who experience homelessness do so for less than three weeks. Another large segment is under two years. So there are differences between those and the chronically homeless (and mentally ill) that we see downtown. We probably don't see the majority of these working homeless because they're at work (or school) and in places like Nicklesville or sleeping in a car at Walmart at night.

According to the Wiki article, the fasting growing demographic is young families. I can see this happening with not just a lack of work, but ruined credit. The difficulties just add up and overwhelm people.
 

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I wonder also about people sleeping on their friend's couch for a while? If that's homelessness, I've been there more than once. And so have many of my friends.

I've been so close to homelessness many times. If I didn't have a support group around me, with friends and family, I could have easily ended up on the streets by now. And I think, how would I pull myself out of that? It's a situation that compounds itself and grows exponentially over a short period of time.

Take for example the amount of LGBT youth that end up homeless after being kicked out of their homes by unsupportive, ignorant parents.
 
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