homelessness

Seattle Downtown Skyline Out of Focus
Seattle Downtownn Skyline Out of Focus City Lights

Progressives Gone Wild

Homelessness in Seattle has reached a crisis point. Despite more than $1 billion in public and private spending across King County, more people live on the streets than ever before (a problem that will likely get worse, following the Supreme Court’s refusal to address the legality of public camping). But rather than focus on the causes of homelessness — addiction, mental illness, and social breakdown — progressives in local government have waged war against abstract forces of oppression.

Last week, the leaders of the homelessness response in Seattle and King County hosted their annual conference under the theme of “Decolonizing Our Collective Work.” According to the organizers, the government’s primary responsibility in reducing homelessness is to “[interrogate] the current structures of power” and “examine the legacies of structural racism in our systems, and co-design a path towards liberation with black, indigenous, brown and other marginalized communities.”

The executive director of King County’s homelessness program, Kira Zylstra, used taxpayer funds to hire a transgender stripper to perform during the conference’s “cultural presentation” hour. According to the Seattle Times, the stripper, Beyoncé Black St. James, “danced topless in a sheer bodysuit, gave lap dances and kissed attendees.” The audience — representatives from the region’s taxpayer-funded nonprofits and government agencies — clapped, cheered, and handed St. James dollar bills.

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old-rainier-brewery-seattle

A Brewing Rebellion in the Emerald City

For the past five years, like many of its West Coast counterparts, Seattle has endured a steady expansion of homelessness, addiction, mental illness, crime, and street disorder. Something is terribly wrong in the Emerald City. Read More ›
Homeless man sleeping on a bench
Sofia, Bulgaria - November 4, 2014: Homeless man is sleeping on a bench in the center of Sofia. Years after joining the EU Bulgaria is still the poorest country in the union.

When “Compassion” is Contempt

The Washington legislature is one step closer to legalizing homeless encampments statewide. Last week, Democratic lawmakers passed through committee legislation, introduced by Representative Mia Gregerson, that would usurp the authority of city governments and legalize camping in all “plazas, courtyards, parking lots, sidewalks, public transportation facilities, public buildings, shopping centers, parks, [and] natural and wildlife areas” throughout the state.

If passed, the bill, inspired in part by the work of Seattle University professor Sara Rankin, who claims to “advance the civil, constitutional, and human rights of visibly poor people” through “the repeal of laws that criminalize homelessness and poverty,” would represent the most significant extension of “survival crime” theory into American law. Survival-crime theory has been percolating through academic journals since the late 1980s. In a widely circulated paper, Rankin argues that the “intersectionality of poverty and homelessness” forces marginalized individuals to commit crimes to ensure their basic survival; therefore, state and local governments should abolish prohibitions against public camping, drug consumption, and low-level property crime.

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Homeless-on-Bench

The Politics of Ruinous Compassion

Abstract: The City of Seattle has failed to address its current homelessness crisis. In fact, because of ideological capture and poor public policy, the city has created a system of perverse incentives that has only made the problem worse. In order to truly confront the problem of homelessness, the city’s leadership must embrace a policy of realism: dismantle the system of perverse incentives, quickly build emergency shelter, and enforce the law against public camping and drug use. Ultimately, the city currently has enough resources to solve the crisis—it needs to summon the political courage to make the right choices. Read More ›