Homeless in Seattle – What does it cost?

Op-Ed By Sarena Minden

SEATTLE – This beautiful place is one of the most well-loved and well-known cities on the West Coast, but how much does it cost to live here? When someone says ‘Seattle, Washington’ they probably think of great coffee, waterfront restaurants, universities and leading technology. What they don’t think about, or don’t want to think about, is the number of homeless people that currently call this city their home.

According to Scott, Greenstone from the Seattle Times, King County has the third-largest homeless population by concentration in the country – far worse than L.A. and New York City. Currently, there are multiple ‘tent cities’ that circulate around the city to provide temporary shelter and refuge for those who are living on the streets. Along with these mobile cities, there are plenty of people living in vehicles parked around Seattle. These cities aren’t and shouldn’t be the permanent solution. One problem with these cities is that tax money is spent paying the police officers to move the homeless people around and to police them. Taxpayers money should be used in a more beneficial way – like building permanent housing.

It seems that some of the cities homeowners wish that the homeless would leave and find somewhere else to live, as they don’t want any more trash on the streets. Others just want them gone because it doesn’t ‘look nice’ to have people sleeping on street corners and having tents on university campuses. What they don’t know is the city provides some food and aid for them, though not housing, so they couldn’t leave if they wanted to. Still many people oppose helping the homeless, feeling as though it shouldn’t be their responsibility to help pay to feed and clothe the people who need it. The main issue is that even though Seattle can provide aid and food for the homeless, but it has nowhere to house them – in other words, it’s a Catch 22.

Recently the city of Seattle has come to the conclusion that it needs to gather even more money to help provide for the housing crisis. But what would this mean for the people working there? Currently, the rule hasn’t passed, but it wants to put an annual head tax of $500 per employee that the companies will have to pay for. Would this mean that the companies would pay their employees less to keep the margin of profits the same? Maybe, or they might lay off workers to avoid paying more money, even though Seattle has one of the highest homeless supports in the country. Nick Wingfield recently wrote about this situation in the New York Times, “Amazon Pauses Huge Development Over New Tax Plan.” Amazon has taken a stand against the tax as they see it as unreasonable – they would end up paying over 2 million dollars annually. This is for good reason as they don’t even know where the money is going to be put to use.

Seattle is great but it has it’s some serious problems that need to be addressed. It needs to manage the money it has more than it previously has. It’s not due to the lack of money that Seattle hasn’t been able to support the homeless effectively, it’s a lack of directive. Instead of wasting our money we should be using it. Volunteering to help move the tent cities is great, but giving the homeless a more permanent place to live would be even better. Don’t let your money go to waste, instead benefit the people that need it and try to save yourself your money in the process.


This op-ed was submitted by a writer outside of the Warrior Word staff. If you are a writer, you can email your work to ewhsnewspaper@gmail.com for possible publication. 


Works Cited:

Greenstone, Scott. “Is Seattle’s Homeless Crisis the Worst in the Country?” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 26 Apr. 2018, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/is-seattles-homeless-crisis-the-worst-in-the-country/.

Wingfield, Nick. “Amazon Pauses Huge Development Plans in Seattle Over Tax Plan.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 May 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/technology/amazon-development-tax.html.

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