Seattle is addicted to bad narratives about homelessness

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We must no longer allow politicians, policy influencers and the media to get away with the laziness of conflating substance abuse and homelessness. Homelessness is the visible symptom of a winner-take-all economic system that allows exploitation of many for the benefit of the few, based on the belief that wealth is defined by the accumulation of things, the resulting conditions be damned. The roadside tents, RVs along side streets and people sleeping in doorways are our societal dandelions. Cut off these symptoms any way you want; they will not only regrow, they’ll multiply. To change the outcome, change the roots: salaries too low for home affordability and housing costs too high to be affordable. This Labor Day is an excellent time to ask whether employers in our region are paying their lowest-paid employees enough to afford basic shelter

I cannot imagine the stress within a family that has lost a home. I would feel immense frustration, shame, futility, anger, fear and sadness. It must take deep courage to wake every morning knowing no one cares whether or not you exist. It takes enormous strength to show up as present in a world that simply hates the very sight of you.

This nation, this region, once put men on the moon, once liberated Europe and Asia from fascism. Those efforts took the commitment to be about more than our individual affluence and sense of comfort. They required the sure knowledge that success depended on the willingness to sacrifice, to be uncomfortable, to care about needs beyond our own. My ancestors gave up many dreams on this land to ensure my existence. I have succeeded beyond their imaginings. Surely I can sacrifice a bit to create a living environment for others. Surely you, who have so much, are obliged to do no less.