BELLEVUE, WA – With homelessness rising across the state, Washington GOP Chairman Jim Walsh recently unveiled Republicans’ plan to reduce homelessness. Officials say it is a crisis that has spread far beyond Seattle, Burien, and even Spokane; and more homelessness brings more crime and more lawlessness to neighborhoods and public spaces.
“There is a lot of frustration with the homeless issue and a general sense of the erosion of law and order,” Walsh says. “People want to see a return to lawful behavior and enforcement with the recognition that the homeless issue is bigger than crime. We need to do something more to get people off the streets.”
“The WAGOP plan recognizes this reality: “Democrat Housing First policies and Harm Reduction policies have failed. Republicans, instead, will channel Washington taxpayers’ money to more effective actions: Law enforcement, better delivery of mental-health services, cutting red tape that discourages building apartments and houses. Jail or treatment for addicts. A re-certified Western State Hospital for the mentally ill. Public policy that expects civil behavior from all. And encourages more housing inventory for everyone,” Walsh adds.
The WAGOP principles for fighting homelessness in Washington State include:
- Stop the flow of drugs.
- Strengthen comprehensive mental health care, rehab, and job training.
- End pay-per-needle grant programs.
- Defend businesses and public spaces.
- Admit the failure of Housing First policies.
- Keep neighborhoods safe.
Between 2020 and 2022, Washington experienced a 15.6% increase in homelessness, the fourth largest increase in homelessness in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Services Office of Community Planning.
Across the state, more than 25,000 people, were experiencing homelessness in 2022, per the PIT report. (The Point in Time Count is required by the HUD, and it estimates the number of people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness on a single night.)
The data points are endless. What needs to be emphasized, however, is that drug addiction and homelessness often go hand in hand.
“Most people are not homeless because they can’t find affordable housing,” reads an excerpt from Change Washington. “Most are homeless because they become addicted to drugs and become incapable of functioning to the point where they’re on the street. It’s why many homeless opt to remain in drug camps rather than shelters where drug use is prohibited.”
While homeless activists claim a lack of affordable housing is to blame for the surge in homelessness, they refuse to recognize that government funded and ideological “Homeless First” policies operate under a false assumption that once people are finally housed they will instantly resume meaningful and productive lives—like magic.
Personal behaviors like harmful and addictive drug abuse and criminality are leading to homelessness. Permanent housing will do little to mitigate addiction rates among the homeless without compulsory treatment methods.
Seattle, for example, spent nearly $1 billion on homelessness over 11 years, and yet the number of homeless individuals continues to explode. Dangerous homeless encampments are breeding grounds for lawless behavior and criminality.
Who could forget “The Jungle,” officially known as the East Duwamish Greenbelt? Located in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, the sprawling homeless encampment, until its dismantling in 2016, was notorious for rapes, prostitution, drug deals, and murder.
“Homeless camps are much like the CHAZ or CHOP, quasi-anarchic communities devoid of meaningful law and order that inevitably attract violent people,” reads an article from Change Washington.
Earlier this month, the city of Vancouver in Clark County declared a state of emergency because of a surge in homelessness.
“At the time of the last Point-In-Time count conducted in January 2023, there were 1,300 homeless people in Clark County, with 672 unsheltered individuals unsheltered, according to reporting from Clark County Today. The results also reflected a 54% rise in chronic homelessness and a 78% increase in chronic unsheltered homelessness since 2022.
We need to do better. There is no dignity in living in squalor—in tents, in RVs, on sidewalks. Compassion requires common-sense solutions not feel-good talking points, perpetrated by the housing first and harm reduction activists. We see how that’s turned out.
WAGOP’s plan to tackle homelessness includes the following specific policy proposals:
- Compel mental health and substance abuse treatment options for anyone receiving housing assistance who is addicted to drugs.
- Improve performance requirements from homeless service providers. Taxpayers deserve to know where their money is being spent.
- Enforce strong bail and parole processes and censure bail companies if criminal suspects reoffend. When felons are released without bail and/or strong parole accountability, they often quickly re-offend. It is critical to call out bail funds, like Northwest Community Bail Fund. Michael Sendejo, a homeless man, was found guilty by a jury in a King County court of second-degree murder (of a homeless man) with a deadly weapon— after NCBF bailed him out of jail, following his arraignment in 2021. This tragedy must serve as a cautionary tale.
In conclusion, “What we call ‘homelessness’ isn’t just a single issue. It involves many factors—the largest is illegal drug use,” says Chairman Walsh. “But there are others: Mental illness, alcoholism, bad housing policy out of Olympia.
“Worst of all, in the middle of this mess are a small group of bureaucratic organizations whose business models are based on ‘managing’ the problem with a constant flow of government grants rather than actually doing anything to get people off the streets.”