Combating Homelessness in Seattle
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on any given night, over 550,000 Americans are homeless.
In 2017, most homeless people lived in transitional or shelter accommodations – a third or more of the homeless population enduring conditions not fit for human habitation.
About two-thirds of homeless people are single, the remainder families with children, including unaccompanied children, youths and veterans.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the following factors are the main contributors to the national problem:
- lack of affordable housing;
- poverty, including among low-wage working Americans, earning too little to afford high rents;
- lack of employment opportunities;
- a decline in federal, state and local assistance;
- lack of affordable healthcare;
- domestic violence largely affecting women;
- untreated or inadequately treated mental illness;
- drug and/or alcohol addiction.
Neoliberal America at the federal, state and local levels largely gives short shrift to homelessness.
The world’s richest country fails to do more than give it scant attention, discretionary federal spending going largely for militarism, warmaking, corporate handouts, along with tax cuts for the rich and big business.
States and municipalities need greater federal aid to deal with this issue. What’s provided isn’t enough. It’s unthinkable for the world’s richest country to allow any homelessness to exist.
On Monday, Seattle’s City Council voted unanimously to tax privately-run companies with city revenues of $20 million or more $275 per-employee – reduced from an initially proposed $500 per-head.
In 2015, Seattle declared a homelessness state of emergency. Ahead of Monday’s vote, council member Teresa Mosqueda said homeless people in the city are dying on our streets today because there is not enough shelter and affordable housing, adding:
Taxing city businesses will have a meaningful impact on addressing our homelessness crisis by building housing and providing health services.
Only 3% of Seattle businesses will be affected by the new ordinance, around $47 million to be raised, the measure sunsetting in 2023 unless renewed. Money raised will go almost entirely for affordable housing and emergency shelters.
Corporate predators benefitted hugely from the GOP tax cut swindle. Taking back some of their windfall to address an important social justice issue is an idea whose time has come.
States and municipalities nationwide should follow Seattle’s lead – addressing all social justice issues going begging because of US neoliberal harshness.
Anything helping to reverse the disturbing trend is welcome news.
Addressing homelessness in Seattle if a good start. Ordinary Americans have been cheated and mistreated since the neoliberal 90s.
Addressing all social justice needs nationwide is vital, especially measures to help the nation’s most vulnerable.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."