Seattle's tent cities

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I was very effectively indoctrinated as a youth to despise the homeless.

It turns out the thing I despise is a society so unwilling to provide basic necessities to the underprivileged that it prefers to have a constant and unpleasant reminder of it’s failure every time it steps into it’s most valued public spaces.

(Just dealing with homelessness in public spaces is sure as shit enough of a pain-point for me to think we should FIX IT in a way that doesn’t involve a NIMBY shipment of people to other places. My point being:
When we are inconvenienced by, hate, made uncomfortable by, ignore, malign, or have any other reaction to the homeless, we are having that reaction to our own reflection in a mirror.)


There used to be one of these behind a church on the in my Eastside neighborhood. The church changed ownership and the tents disappeared. No idea where they ended up.

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Can I get a free house? I am busting my hump 50+ hours a week to try and save for a downpayment in one of the fastest-growing, fastest-selling housing markets in the country, and you’re telling me all I gotta do is stop bathing on the regular, stop clocking in to my soul-sucking (but reasonably well-paying) job, and stop paying my heartless skinflint of a landlord his monthly blood-money, and I too can join the landed gentry of Seattle? Sign me the eff up!

So you’re saying you’re pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, so why the hell don’t they do the same?


Sure! As long as you don’t ever want to work a real job again, get the shit beaten out of you by the cops pretty often, have to deal with mentally ill and substance abusing neighbors (remember, the walls are literally cardboard thin), have to deal with the cold sogginess of Seattle for about 8 months of the year (yes there’s a roof over your head, no of course these shacks aren’t water tight. And good luck when the ground becomes saturated about a week into October).

You, yes you specifically, are surrounded by privilege and opportunities that homeless people are prohibited from taking advantage of, but which you don’t seem to even notice.

Enjoy your nutritious fruits and vegetables. I’m sure you take tomatoes and cucumbers for granted, because you sound to me like you’ve never personally known someone homeless who literally can’t afford to feed themselves real food.


It’s good when people can be capable and self-sufficient, but what about when they can’t? Is it morally wrong to help people? Do you see the homeless as bad people who deserve to have bad things happen to them?

I don’t think landed gentry is the right term for it.


This response is interesting, because giving free housing to homeless people is one of those rare things that both liberals and conservatives hate, both for almost the same reason, “Why should we give free things to people when I don’t get free things?”

One of the answers, which everyone also seems to hate because it is purely economic in nature, is that NOT providing them houses is quite a bit more expensive than providing them houses. Homeless people get injured constantly, because it is very dangerous to sleep on the street. They show up at emergency rooms, and we treat them. They rack up huge bills that they obviously can’t ever pay. In one case made famous by Malcolm Gladwell, a man named Murray racked up over $1,000,000 in unpaid medical bills in less than ten years. They called him “Million-dollar Murray”.

Someone has to pay those bills, and they are connected to high hospital bills for everyone else, higher taxes, etc. You can pay for a lot of cheap apartments with a million bucks. Putting them indoors means they are less likely to get beaten up, run over by garbage trucks, get pneumonia, etc. It is literally cheaper to give them a house, than it is to give them constant medical attention.

This is one of those cases where you really need to ask yourself, “What is more important to me?” Getting to wear my righteous indignation around like a warm cape? Or having a solution that actually works, even though I don’t like it?


Christ on a cross, when will we get it through our thick heads?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Literally, sometimes.

These are people, after all- and it bothers me that we are, as a society, ok with some people having nothing and no way out from that. There’s a basic decency that humans are due. Humans should get to eat. They should have a warm and dry place to live. They should have healthcare and education. Ultimately, it’s cheaper (if that’s your primary motivation…), but really, doesn’t it make the world a bit better? It’s a bit like art, I suppose: Paintings, strictly speaking are expensive and unnecessary. But the world is a better place because of them.

The whole “Well nobody helped me” argument is such bullshit. It’s very likely not true, first off. And second, did you enjoy that? Was it good for you? Or would you have preferred there was some mechanism to help you out? Would you really wish the shit you went through on somebody else? What the hell?

Rant over.


You can pay for a lot of cheap apartments with a million bucks. Putting them indoors means they are less likely to get beaten up, run over by garbage trucks, get pneumonia, etc. It is literally cheaper to give them a house, than it is to give them constant medical attention.

And it might even make the haves a bit less disdainful of the have-nots. Not to mention helping a lot of the latter join the former.

Thanks for your wonderful comment; it contains thoughts that I was basically too lazy to type out.


If being homeless is criminalized, it’s easier to put them in jail, at which point the jail becomes their home. Problem solved! (Yes, this is sarcasm.)

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Nobody helped you…
(directed at the generic population who was never threatened with homelessness as a child and young adult)
Not your parents giving you a safe home and feeding you as well as encouraging you in your education
Not your teachers who were able to help prepare you for university you as you were not distracted by hunger, homelessness, violence, or instability. Certainly not the parents who provided a safety net by letting you come back to your room on college vacations and summer break, who let you keep most or all of any part time pay check, , surely not how you probably moved back home once or twice after graduating college while you ate their food, drove their car, looked for a job and perhaps asked for advice, cash, and introductions to their friends in management.
Not your friends and contacts especially ones made in university, the people who you could conspire to find jobs for each other, or perhaps the rich ones who were able to get you a job a few rungs down the ladder from them in the family business, maybe even some friends who you could collaborate with, maybe even drop out with, to start the next entrepreneurial success story.
Certainly not those post college co-workers or social club, sport, or hobby acquaintances who might help you with a grudging loan or fabricating a job opening if you get laid off.

Compare this to homeless kids, or kids in the foster parent program. Instability, violence, and insufficient nutrition dog them to the point that for many attending school is not for education but simply to have a few stress distracted hours in a heated building, perhaps with a school breakfast and/or lunch. It is not fair to say that foster parents do what they do for the money, but most need that income to stay afloat. WHen a foster kids turns 18 it is so very rarely off to college. Rather it is more often off to the streets when foster care ends, or at best a buddie’s couch, they have not been prepared for an education priming them for so called American success, rather a life of PTSD, minimum wage jobs, and often self medicating with alcohol and drugs to Bandaid over the pain of rejection.

America punishes the poor because to do otherwise would not be ‘fair’. How is it fair that some of us got massive rocket assisted support, or a long smooth runway, perhaps free jet fuel, maybe even dropped while airborne like Spaceship-2 being carried to high altitude supersonic flight by WhiteKnight-2, some are even passive payloads carried aloft by a multi staged rocket; yet others are expected to hand build a VTOL aircraft from found junk and make a ‘bootstrap’ takeoff while weighted down with the chains of homelessness, hunger, PTSD, violence, anti-homeless harassment laws, sexual abuse, and poverty all without the fuel of money.


I would find it bothersome that the purportedly-liberal coastal states seem to have the highest homelessness per capita had it not been this way for a long-ass time. I don’t know if this is failure of liberalism per se so much as it is a domination of liberalism by specific aspects of American culture. Bootstraps & individualism > functional charity and welfare.

It is extremely illiberal to criminalize and ghettoize the poor, see essentially the entire history of human civilizations and how they dealt with it, but god dammit, I literally have to walk over this filth just to get my morning coffee! Don’t they know there’s an app for getting your shit together?

(note: high homelessness isn’t unique to the coasts but there’s a more marked contrast there between the nominal liberalism of the people and the reality of their circumstances. The USA is shit at dealing with homelessness virtually everywhere, hence the stark uniqueness of the few successful programs mentioned above.)

(another note: while it makes intuitive and logical sense to me and its successes make me favor it, I’m not sure free homes for the poor is the best/right way to address poverty and homelessness, ditto simply giving them cash. it may well be, and given its track record we damn well ought to try it elsewhere, but intuitive and straightforward doesn’t always equal best/right.)

(a third note: it’s good to remember that not all homeless and poor are psychologically or physically impaired. This is not to downplay the miserable situation of being sick/hurt/impaired and poor/homeless, but merely to point out that in many cities, great swathes of homeless people are homeless because they can no longer afford homes due to gentrification, which is a differently-shitty kind of homelessness.)


Please tell us you do realize that the proposals aren’t to give homeless people a house, and land to own, and perhaps no support structure or way for them to pay property tax and maintenance.
I’ll give you a quarter point for reading literally though a sentence that didn’t elaborate but instead linked to a story that did. And negative points for your misreading of “home” into “house”, deciding to get hung up on a point you didn’t bother to read further on, and your attitude of pretentiousness.
The solution is to give them a place to live…then get them a network of support and stability so they’re not headed straight back into a cycle like this.


I can attest to that. I work with a charity in NH that, among other things, pursues this same agenda. We allow (carefully screened) homeless people to camp on the property, in exchange for a couple hours a day helping on the farm. Aside from the basics of safety and hygiene, at that point, they have an actual address- which allows them to seek employment and government services. We also provide them with that crucial component to job hunting- A reference from a current employer (since they can honestly claim to be employed as “seasonal farm help”.

In our experience, it takes 8-10 months under those circumstances to find employment, transportation, and permanent housing. Our last success story had the state return her children within 30 days of getting her own apartment.



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