It’s not that affordable housing isn’t a problem in Seattle. I know people who couldn’t live on their own in Seattle anymore due to rental increases, including members of my extended family. But those people either move away to more affordable areas, moving in with family or friends or into (sometimes questionably legal) group housing situations, but they don’t live on the street.
I agree. Add the absence of a healthcare system to that too. Personal anecdote: a homeless man offered to wash my car for money. He seemed intelligent and nice, so I agreed. He told me the story of him becoming homeless. Both he and his wife worked and rented an OK place in OK part of SF. His wife got into a car accident and their crappy insurance couldn't handle it, the deductibles were astronomical because, as usual, some of the "independent businessmen" who "provided care" were out of network, as if the unconscious victim had any control over who touched her.
So they had to drop their income below certain level to qualify for free healthcare. Now he didn't have enough for rent and moved to under a highway bridge and was visibly embarrassed by it.
When people are talking about Seattle's worsening homeless problem, they're talking about the presence of needles and fecal material on the sidewalks, and being harassed, and sometimes even attacked, by clearly mentally ill people, not about people living in trailers in non-urban areas.
Officials need to address the whole problem, not just the visible problem.
So, if we prioritize, say, addiction treatment, more people will want to be addicts. Right.
even subs like /r/povertyfinance contain some people that live in their car at times.
Edit: see https://www.urban-initiatives.org/reports/are-all-persons-sl...
Apartments, houses, yurts, and RVs are "homes".
Homes need to (1) provide adequate shelter, (2) have sufficient space, and (3) have access to water and waste facilities.
Do we define time as an anthropocentric artifact such as linking it to average modern human chronobiology markers or quirky orbital parameters of our homeworld, as a political artifact such as dividing the surface of the Earth into regions with artificial offsets to accommodate national or supranational policies such as industrial energy consumption management in resource crises or supporting coordination efforts of governance and military structures that have specific information-flow rate characteristics dependent on the availability of logistics mastery and locus diameter of projected force and interventional reach, as a capability artifact such as atomic clocks and the networking thereof with global navigation satellites and the Internet that require readily sourced technology supply chains for inexpensive manufacturing of electronics, refined knowledge of controlling engineering precision tolerances, and worldwide negotiation of protocol adoption, adherence, and upkeep in an effort for a singular master goal of providing location services at a scale relevant for the size and velocities of current weaponry?
That's just getting started on some of the ways we intend to measure the difference between one specific aspect of often fuzzy conformational states and the ever-present linguistic and cultural conflations of many competing metrics in different scenarios being erroneously regarded as the same thing.
So now, what does "homeless" mean? A better question is asking _why_ is such a metric required.
In _any_ large-scale society, the regulation of basic supplies such as shelter or food is designed (whether unconsciously emergent or not) to be artificially restricted as to maintain and stabilize certain systems through meeting goals of riot control, surveillance, profit, and inducing dependency and learned helplessness. This is a _universal_ property of any large-scale social structure although the terms I used are somewhat anachronistic and culturally-specific. If you're a competent spin doctor, you might say the goals to be met are respectively harmonization of inclusive diversity, identifying and personalizing the accommodation of individual needs in a vibrant community, allocating resources efficiently to maximize the full benefit of society, providing stability and reducing uncertainty by supporting people through difficult times and ensuring their mental health through wellness initiatives, holistic education, and self-actualizing opportunities.
Some purposes and scenarios a specific definition of "homeless" could help address:
- Criterion for administering supplies to highly specific, purposefully carved out population demographics as gerrymandered token aid in placating increasingly unruly members when systemic defects start to shine through where resources are unavailable or unwilling to be used and a cheap patch is preferred over rehauling a design that would inevitably converge back to the same problems anyways but also ensues a risk or requirement that even in a non-zero-sum outcome the standards of living for certain individuals would go down just by changing things up since an important aspect of perceived well-being in most humans is completely due to relative posturing and takes time for hedonic adaptation to kick-in while also presenting a predicted future cost and stressor to avoid in calculations of whether to allow change or persecute it.
- Identifying and targeting threats to the status quo. This could be either the traditional fear of resistive violence, but far more likely and subtle is control of members exiting from the current system into perpetual self-reliance which is far more subversive and damaging than a mob a rioters destroying some infrastructure. Opting out of debt and dependency by living far below your means without a permanent address outside of social expectations and control places a huge burden on the sustainability of traditional ways when people start to realize there are alternatives to the living plan laid out for you by someone else.
- Ensuring a proper scapegoat for "bad things". A fundamental mode of human conflict resolution is avoidance of responsibility and instead mutual externalized blame on a concept that is ill-defined, irrefutable, and circular-causative or a marginalized outsider that has no capability for either refutation, redress, retaliation, nor rehabilitation.
- Unavoidable persuasive rhetoric deficiencies in logos, ethos, or kairos that requires the pathos of either compassion or spite to be anywhere near convincing when the argument for various policies are not only self-damaging to the audience but also infeasible, intractable, ill-conceived, ineffective, irrational, irrelevant, and ironic.
They are much more expensive though.
Northwest Harvest's food bank lost their lease on Cherry Street, but there's still a soup kitchen under the overpass, supporting the unofficial Cherry Street Tent City.
Second, your observations won't tell you whether the drug addiction caused the homelessness or vice versa. Many homeless people turn to drugs to cope.
Third, you don't have to live on the streets to be homeless. Those people who are crashing at friends and living in unstable group housing situations are homeless.
> This isn’t popular, but...
Sorry to break it to you, but you're not the independent thinker you might believe you are:
"Drug and alcohol abuse tops the list among the general public as a major
factor why some people might be homeless. More than eight in ten (85%)
adults feel this is a major factor. "
"Mental illness or related mental disorders such as post traumatic stress
disorder are cited by two-thirds (67%)."
I think you're right that the WORST of the homeless crisis is due to addiction and mental illness, but honestly that's only about half (edited ) or so of the homeless population.
The majority of the homeless or near-homeless people who use the city services try to stay off the grid as much as possible as to not draw any trouble upon themselves. The unfortunate reality of this scenario is that the public typically only sees the worst of the problem, and deems it nearly impossible to fix. I understand why that is the perception, but it's not taking into account the large population of homeless people who are mentally stable. I was also plesantly surprised by the large number of the homeless who are sober as to not be spending the little money they collect on expensive addictions.
 - https://sunrisehouse.com/addiction-demographics/homeless-pop...
It takes rigorous research, with properly accounted for selection biases, to determine actual ratios of the population as a whole.
I've looked at a number of studies about this. In general, it's hard to find much agreement between them about actual numbers. I suspect some of that is related to how "homelessness" and "mental illness" or "addiction" are defined by the people doing the studies, but most indicate that some kind of majority are influenced by one or more of those issues.
25% have a mental illness
35% have a substance issue
You know what helps mental illness and addiction? Stability.
The kind of stability you get from knowing where you'll sleep each night, knowing that you'll be safe, not simply trying to survive each day.
It is a complicated problem. There are no magic bullets, no panaceas, but it's ludicrous to think that housing per se isn't a major aspect of this issue. The threat of homelessness introduces anxiety that exacerbates mental problems and leads toward drug abuse. The reality of it is no better. Don't confuse causes and symptoms; the many aspects of homelessness are tightly linked and teasing out causality is no easy task.
We can't expect everyone to have the presence of mind, at a dark and low point in their lives, to uproot their entire lives and find new housing and a new job in a completely new area. Many don't have any kind of support network to make that work, or know of the services or resources that could make that happen, if they even exist.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The trope of a well-functioning adult succumbing to the allure of drug abuse is a red herring.
It's really sad to see, but even worse is recognizing them later after they've clearly fallen into heavy drug use.
Yes, we need harm reduction for drugs, and mental health care, but the housing crisis is exacerbating those two problems.
Here's one article (among many) exploring why "Seattle's homeless population went up 44% in the last two years." Spoiler: it's not because addiction and mental illness went up 44%.
It doesn't explain what stops people from looking for jobs in other, cheaper places, which is something I'm struggling to understand
What's hard to understand? Moving anywhere for a new job is expensive, and most people (even those with well-above-median incomes) have no savings. Most jobs don't include relocation, and the first paycheck doesn't come for ~4 weeks after starting. That means that moving as one person bringing nothing with you, you still need to house yourself for a month with no income, likely no connections (since you've moved somewhere presumably away from the family/friends in your hometown), and where you have no idea about local circumstances.
Their opportunities in Pakistan were pretty poor, so most of those siblings chose to emigrate and leave. Now most of those siblings are spread out around the US and Canada. My family moved to the US from Pakistan after his employer in Pakistan was unable to pay it's employees for months and we started from scratch here. This isn't just a new city, but a whole new country and culture.
All those siblings had to struggle like crazy to establish themselves, but it wasn't impossible.
Clearly there's a different perspective that others like yourself are seeing which I haven't understood.
Several years ago I quit a stressful job, left a stressful living situation and ended up staying with a friend. I went to social services in SF to get health insurance benefits to make sure I could continue getting medication I'd been on for years. When I applied they classified me as "homeless". If you saw me on the street or on the bus next to you, you probably wouldn't have called me homeless.
It's helpful for most social programs to have a broad definition of "homeless". It allows granting assistance before an individual actually ends up living on the street. When most people think of "homeless" they envision a person passed out on the street under a dingy blanket who's probably high or mentally ill. That definition is a harmful one and it prevents the community from getting involved in solving the problem. They don't want "those people" living in shelters that might be built in their neighborhood.
For every mentally ill/addicted homeless person you see living on the street there are probably 2 or 3 living in temporary housing because they can no longer afford a place of their own.
The streets may not be the best sample though.
There are homeless people who work and live in their cars.
Getting government and NIMBYISM out of housing policy will lead to affordable housing and is paramount to fixing this.
Opportunity Zone Investments should also help some.
The trick is getting government and nimbyism out of housing policy while getting them into drug and mental illness treatment at the same time. These days it doesn't seem like there's a political party that can handle that kind of nuance. It feels like it's either expand government on all fronts or retreat on all fronts and that's not what's needed here.
I moved away about a year and a half ago, when homeless tents were pretty common. When I visited recently, it was stunning how much worse it is. Almost every green space in the city (except for popular parks) is filled with tents. It's really crazy.
Quite frankly, given how many decades Seattle has had a significant homeless population, I'm surprised the city hasn't taken point on treatment and housing programs. They have a unique opportunity to really help a lot of people out if they'd step up and do it.
Mental illness, financial circumstance and relationship breakdowns (family or spouse) are indeed common initial causes. Especially PTSD in veterans.
Without a home and some semblance of stability people can’t cope with addiction or find jobs. The approach is meant to be very effective and makes sense when you consider how difficult it would be for someone without a house to take their meds on time, show up regularly for a job, or get counseling and suppprt.
It's not easy to detox from opioids if you don't have a home, or to get treatment for mental illness if you live on the streets.
We have a pretty good idea that housing first works, and is probably cheaper than other approaches.
Chronic homelessness is at the very least, a huge confounding factor in terms of social work, combating addiction, and treating mental illness. If someone doesn't have a stable address and someone else has to go out to one of several encampments in a dry river bed just to find them to deliver treatment or services, those services are going to be much more expensive. The living conditions themselves are also going to exacerbate the problems to be treated. This is why it's commonly thought that the 20% of the homeless population which falls into the "chronic" category accounts for most of the crisis services expense caused by the homeless.
Ya, there's a fraction of homelessness that's caused by that but even if it was 100% caused by that, which it's not, it is still a big problem that needs to be solved. If only not to have people living in the street. It doesn't help when a big company is not paying its fair share of the tax base and adding to the problem by attracting workers and paying them a wage that doesn't allow them to afford to live where they work or squeezing out the lower level workers out of their homes because the cost of living skyrockets.
And I didn't see any details in the article, but it'd a good thing if some of this donation goes towards helping homeless people with addiction and mental illness. They're definitely contributing factors for some people.
This fund targets homeless families, these aren't groups of people you see shooting heroin on the street corner yet they make up a sizable part of the homeless population.
Taken together, you're agreeing to the same set of problems that are popularly agreed upon as being problems. Seems like you're just quibbling?
Get back to me when you have something logical to say, not just ad hominems...
That's not to say mental illness isn't a contributing factor, just that the lynchpin into homelessness stems from economic factors, like insufficient income or lack of affordable housing.
This actually hurts the real needy people who are trying to get by.
While incentives are powerful they still require an actual mechanism to work.
As for buying votes that assumes so many facts not in evidence it isn't funny in addition to being flat out prejudicial - when the budget is spent on something I support it is deserved when it is on others it is bribery. Actual vote buying was solved centuries ago with the secret ballot.
Addiction is not, per se, a major root cause of homelessness. There are people with addictions who have careers. If addiction caused homelessness, then getting addicted would land people on the street as a routine consequence.
People see homeless individuals do X and conclude "X causes homelessness" or is otherwise some inherent trait of "those people" and it's usually unfounded.
People on the street are often using street drugs in place of prescription medication, sometimes by preference because, for example, they have a psych diagnosis and street drugs have preferable side effects to the medication they are supposed to be on.
I knew a bipolar man somewhat well who was homeless. He smoked marijuana in preference to the prescription drugs he refused to take. He was unemployable due to his undamaged mental health issue, not because he toked. Toking was just how he got by. He wouldn't have been more functional without pot. He likely would have been less functional.
We still don't have a slam dunk cure for most mental health issues. As long as this remains true, it is problematic to act like addiction is not merely a side effect of the problem and, instead, to pretend it somehow causes the problems an individual has.
Saying addiction is the problem is a little like blaming chemotherapy for ruining someone's life and not acknowledging the underlying cancer as a problem.
The National Coalition on Homelessness seems to agree, citing "A 2008 survey by the United States Conference of Mayors asked 25 cities for their top three causes of homelessness. Substance abuse was the single largest cause of homelessness for single adults (reported by 68% of cities). Substance abuse was also mentioned by 12% of cities as one of the top three causes of homelessness for
families. According to Didenko and Pankratz (2007), two-thirds of homeless people report that drugs
and/or alcohol were a major reason for their becoming homeless."
The American Public Health Association as well states, "On an individual level, persons who have a problem with alcohol and/or other drugs, and who are in marginal economic circumstances, are at especially high risk for homelessness."
The road to addiction is complex, and yes mental health treatment should absolutely be better in the United States, but to claim that addiction is not a risk factor to homelessness is disingenuous.
What I'm trying to tell you is people blame drug use when it is really more like a symptom than a cause. It's like saying "The pain killers did it."
The conclusion winds up being that if people wouldn't do drugs, their lives would work. The reality is more like if their lives worked, they wouldn't do drugs.
Again, it's like saying "Chemotherapy causes homelessness!" because some folks on the street are having a medical crisis. If you just stopped chemo cold, it wouldn't get them off the street and now their cancer is going unchecked.
There are things you can do that help, like improve the crappy American health care system. But "Just don't do chemo" isn't an answer but that's exactly how substance abuse gets addressed.
Think of it this way: Most people on the street are male. No one goes around saying in all seriousness "Just don't be male. Problem solved!"
First, you are going to a known location which increases the concentration of one type of homeless person in space.
Second, you are looking at a particular point in time, which will increase your odds of seeing chronic homeless people versus people who have had a brush with homelessness.
Mental illness and drug addiction are absolutely a big part of the chronic homeless problem. Either as a cause (schizophrenic people are more likely to wind up homeless) or as a negative feedback loop (extended extreme stress can made addictive escapes more tempting, and can cause a psychotic break).
However drug use and mental illness are not the main things determining whether temporary homelessness becomes chronic homelessness. And programs that attempt to solve that should look very different than ones which try to help the chronic homeless.
If you don't have money or friends, what group housing would you find?
Why would you move to a different city, away from everyone you know, if you don't have a job to pay bills?
Because a substantial portion already have a history of mental problems before they became homeless, and typically they find themselves homeless because they reach adulthood and thus their primary caretaker either can't or won't be able to keep them off the streets. I personally know a couple of homeless individials that suffered from schizophrenia who found thenselves on the streets after their patents passed away.
I think it's a cop-out to call most of the non-drug-addicted ones mentally ill, as a way of lumping them in with the drug addicts.