Homelessness

Let’s make a law that forces cities and unincorporated areas to build affordable housing before allowing pricier luxury homes and residential remodels to take place. The homelessness of today is nothing like it used to be. Sure, there are those who do not want to work and have the responsibility of a home or apartment. The new homeless do not belong in that group. They have simply been priced out of the market.  Each city should have its fair share of affordable homes.

A person who makes minimum wage in Washington makes about $1500-1600/month can only afford $375-400 per month in rent (at a quarter of their income). This assumes that they are fully employed at 40 hours per week. Unfortunately, some companies only hire part time workers so that they do not have to pay for health care. So even if the worker is getting $12/hour, but is only working up to 15 hours a week (which is the company policy at many retail outlets), they must get 2 more jobs to get close to full time employment. Retail workers especially never know if they are going to get enough hours to make ends meet.

Just try to find housing for $400 per month or less in the greater SeaEvTac area. There is nothing, except for an occasional room in a house, when someone is trying to get some extra money. Most studio apartments are $650 or more, and one bedroom apartments are $750-1200 per month. Anyone wanting a lesser rent must go into subsidized housing, which means that the taxpayers foot a portion of the bill. My taxes are high enough. I want to see affordable housing built that is truly affordable, rather than regular housing that is subsidized because no one wants to build affordable housing.

Subsidized housing is convenient, but I wonder if it hurts us in the long run, especially if the taxes are mostly paid by those in the middle income bracket, lowering their ability to purchase items. It also gives the person in subsidized housing the sense that they can afford and deserve more than they really can afford. Some do deserve more because they are really underpaid, while others would do better with a smaller place until they learn to do the work required to obtain a better place.  It can be overwhelming for someone to go from a tent to a much larger area.  Some are growing up without the knowledge of how to use many modern conveniences responsibly.

We need to zone housing that is truly affordable.  The tiny house movement is a smart idea, but only works if there are lots able to accept the houses.  This means there must be areas zoned for smaller homes, or the lot once considered to be too small to build on can be rezoned to accept a tiny home.  Many people are worried about drugs and crime in smaller homes, but forget that when there are no other options, our society is almost encouraging the homeless into a life of crime.  If we want to cultivate law abiding citizens, we need to provide the opportunity for them to thrive.

Most of the homeless want to be able to make it on their own, without assistance from anyone. They want to work at a decent job, pay their own way, and be self-sustaining. Their inability to make enough money to live in a society that demands a minimum that is above what they are able to make is frustrating, demoralizing, and depressing.