David Preston: What Seattle Housing Gets for $290 million

David Preston

 Seattle’s $290 million “affordable housing” property tax levy passed yesterday, doubling the amount of the previous levy. Voters likely approved it because they felt it would reduce the number of homeless people visible on the streets. Unfortunately, it will likely not do that, because most of the homeless on the street today are people who either can not (or will not) be helped by affordable housing-type programs. I’m talking about folks with serious mental illness, addiction, and behavioral problems. These are people who don’t do well in shelters or even organized camps, so it’s hard to imagine them living in an apartment

That voters keep dishing out the money even as the crisis of street people expands reflects a general ignorance of housing issues by the Seattle public. This ignorance, while distressing, is not surprising. How are people supposed to learn about homelessness after all? The local news media (Seattle Times, Stranger, Radio and TV News) soft-peddle the crisis, ignoring the hard data about which solutions work and which don’t and opting instead for feel-good stories about homeless kids or people who couldn’t make the rent. Media is especially loathe to cover stories about collusion between corrupt non-profit agencies like LIHI and SHARE (who make big money off homelessness) and the liberal politicians who keep doling out the money and political favors . . . because liberal Seattle-ites just don’t want to hear about stuff like that. But that’s what they’ve got to START doing. Otherwise the problem will keep getting worse, even as we keep shoveling money at it.

The new seven-year levy will cost the owner of a $480,000 home about $122 annually, $61 more than the current levy.

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