New view on homelessness

June 6th, 2016 by Ken

Proposals to tax all property owners in Lacey, Olympia and Tumwater to fund construction of housing for homeless individuals will hopefully fall by the wayside like dozens of other suggestions on how to eliminate homelessness – – because it’s not the answer.

Before we should spend another penny to build subsidized housing – – perhaps we should look at the causes of homelessness and the reason for the lack of affordable housing.

A number of the homeless have alcohol and drug problems.   Another percentage have mental health issues.  Domestic abuse accounts for some homelessness and teenager homelessness is often related to problems between the child and the parents often for some of the same reasons just mentioned.   Those are the root causes of much of our homelessness.

Some want to work but are without job opportunities.  Lack of jobs is brought about partly by national and international businesses which operate beyond our control – – but some of the lack of jobs can be brought right back to the state and local level.   More and more requirements on business – – such as a higher minimum wage – set hours – overtime pay – -mandatory medical fees and other current regulations, decrease the number of jobs available as technology is preferred over the cost of people.

Those are some of the causes of homelessness.   Now, lets look at the reason for the lack of affordable housing.

Those who build houses estimate that it costs between $15,000 to $25,000 per house, just to get a permit to build.   Lower in the county, higher in Olympia.   That adds to the cost of a new home.   Then, impact fees for parks, for schools, for transportation and for various other programs adds $25,000 to $50,000 additional cost.   And, that’s all before the house is built.

Zoning rules and regulations put severe restrictions on where housing can be built and forces builders inside urban boundaries  – where cost of land is much higher –  thus also adding to the cost of new homes.

The inability to afford a new house, puts pressure on existing housing stocks, and the cost of all housing rises.

Add to that the fact that the number of manufactured homes in the urban areas has fallen by 50 percent, and that this affordable housing stock is prohibited in many areas – – also adds to the unaffordability of housing.

Before we tax existing home owners for the purpose of building “affordable” housing, we should take a look at the social issues which create the unhoused.   And we should look at those rules and regulations we have imposed – that makes the cost of housing out of reach for a substantial portion of our population.

Those problems should be addressed first.   And, if progress is made – then the homeless problem will diminish.

Posted in Government, Local Politics, The Real News

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