December 4, 2013 at 7:01 PM
The homeless have the ability to work, so give them jobs
In Derek Low’s guest column [“Find a site to replace Nickelsville,” Opinion, Dec. 4], he states the well-meaning motivation of caring people drawn to social work with a desire to support those in need.
But he doesn’t mention an underlying and greater need of all adults — the desire for self-esteem through work and self-support. The article fails to mention that homeless people are jobless people. Why do social-service agencies focus primarily on provision of support for homelessness? Why has the City Council spent $500,000 on maintaining an ever-expanding population of homelessness? Why didn’t the City Council consider offering the money to Costco, Safeway, Home Depot and other businesses to help train homeless people so that they can eventually provide for themselves?
Yes, many homeless people are unable to work; social-service professionals are needed. However, every survey taken by people who are homeless that I have read — many with mental illness — say what they want as their first priority is a job. It is time for Seattle to shift its focus and policies from perpetual support of homelessness to greater recognition of skill-building and jobs. Homeless individuals have the ability — and the need — to support themselves.
— Eleanor Owen, Seattle
Pay more attention to Seattle homeless crisis
I agree with guest columnist Derek Low’s opinion that we should pay more attention to the crisis of homelessness in Seattle.
As he writes: “While waiting for permanent housing, the least our great city can do is provide a legal and safe place to pitch a tent.” Before we consider Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ plan to use small drones to deliver his stuff to our online shoppers in 30 minutes, let’s apply our creativity to solving life-or-death issues like homelessness.
Maybe our new socialist councilmember will apply the kick in the pants we apparently need.
— Jerome Chroman, Seattle
September 4, 2013 at 6:53 PM
Columnist made false judgments
How is it possible that someone who is intelligent enough to be a syndicated columnist can make such claims? [“Column: Putting the squeeze on panhandling,” Opinion, Sept, 1.]
First of all, there’s this assumption: “ … a sign saying ‘homeless veteran’ (hardly ever the case) …” Did she count them, those “disheveled beings?”
“Few panhandlers are homeless …” Really? Did she ask each and every one of the thousands upon thousands of homeless and panhandlers across America?
Busy gal, working so hard to get her facts, er, judgments straight. Come down to my shop. We can chat with some of the hundreds of homeless teens on the streets.
Maybe you could change a few of those well-researched “statistics.”
Susan Fox, executive director, Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets
September 1, 2013 at 8:03 AM
Jobs should be first priority
I recently turned 33, and can proudly say I do remember when gas was 99 cents a gallon, and even a quarter a gallon. I am struggling to meet basic daily needs such as clothing and food, having been let go from my job more than a month ago. [“Nickelsville ready to morph into 3 parts,” NW Friday, Aug. 30.]
What’s even sadder is that the city is choosing to forcefully evict the Nickelsville homeless community at the start of September.
At a time when I may be evicted from low-income housing due to decision delays at the unemployment office, the Nickelsville community remains the only place available for shift workers to rest, in comparison with regular shelters’ operating hours.
Hiring activity is now being challenged by the cost of the Affordable Care Act, and hours are being reduced across the board, with some businesses even instituting hiring freezes.
The 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in this area is incorrectly focusing on affordable housing, not jobs. Low-income workers cannot get housing that is “appropriate and affordable” if they can’t first find, and more importantly, retain employment.
Doug Brehm, Seattle
August 29, 2013 at 6:26 AM
Former New Yorker Stuart Marvin’s pointed observations about Seattle’s grizzly downtown and his recommended solutions are right-on. [“Downtown crime shocks New Yorker,” NW Wednesday, Aug. 28.]
But as someone whose migration pattern is the reverse of his — after 35 years in Western Washington, I moved to metropolitan New York — I know why his solutions won’t happen.
In New York, citizens and taxpayers are protected from rabble-rousers and criminals. In Seattle, it’s the reverse: rabble-rousers, who are often petty criminals, are coddled and protected by city officials.
[City Attorney] Peter Holmes’ unwillingness to act against repeat offenders is an example. Ditto the mere presence of Nickelsville, the illegal homeless camp that’s a stick in Seattle’s eye with only empty City Council rhetoric directed against it.
New Yorkers wouldn’t tolerate either for an instant. I saw two NYPD officers take a paper sack containing a bottle of Jack Daniels from a man and pour it into the gutter, then he was hauled off.
In Seattle, go after scofflaws or impose legal sanctions against unlawful encampments and you incur the wrath of nonprofits and bureaucratic sycophants.
You’re then checked by official timidity, political correctness and the fear of hurting someone’s feelings, none of which matter to a New Yorker.
Scott St. Clair, Clifton, N.J.
August 6, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Everyone should contribute
If you want to know what is next in helping people who are homeless, your paper might promote an increase in county and city taxes that would be allocated specifically for more emergency services and affordable housing. [“Editorial: Who will step up to help the homeless?”, Opinion, Aug. 4.]
Across the board, churches and faith-based organizations already carry their fair share and more in providing emergency services for homeless people.
The responsibility of addressing this crisis in our community rests with the entire population of King County and the city of Seattle, especially those residents whose annual income exceeds $100,000.
Increased revenue through equitable taxation is the fairest way to share in this responsibility. Your question, “Who will step up to help the homeless?” can be answered in one word: Everyone!
Rev. Ron Moe-Lobeda, University Lutheran Church, Seattle
Regional efforts must continue
Today I saw one of my neighbors at a University District church’s feeding program for people who are homeless and otherwise in need. He wasn’t there as a volunteer; he came to get a meal.
I was surprised, until I thought about the effect of the recession on middle- and low-income people. Locally, one in five children is at risk of hunger, according to United Way of King County. The lack of affordable housing in this area, coupled with high unemployment, is a major barrier to economic stability.
I’m troubled by this editorial and by some of our Seattle City Council members, who prefer foisting responsibility from government onto churches — who are already doing so much to provide food and shelter — and pitting Seattle against neighboring cities.
To end hunger and homelessness, we need continued efforts as a region, with government, faith communities, nonprofits, private funders and individual residents all unified against poverty.
Catherine Hinrichsen, Seattle
February 25, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Despite vibrant nonprofit sector, Seattle struggles with youth
In a recently published Seattle Times op-ed, the issue of youth homelessness was brought to attention [“Innovate to end youth homelessness,” Opinion, Feb. 21].
Whether by chance or by the way in which motivation has lead me, I have been passionate about the security and future of our youth for as long as I have been a contributing member to society.
It fascinates me that we in Seattle have some of the most innovative, prosperous and unique individuals working within the nonprofit sector. It doesn’t get past me, however, that despite all of this philanthropic influence, our city still struggles tremendously with our youth.
The op-ed describes “Count Us In,” a point-in-time count of homeless youth. This in itself seems like a step in the right direction. A snapshot of just how many youth are in need of assistance, and the idea of studying their demographics and just how to assist them, is crucial.
Community organizations are plentiful, offering a wide array of services, monetary assistance and temporary relief to a wide demographic of people. The issue remains, though, just how to reach these people and assist them in securing what they need before it is too late.
Nicole Neiditz, Seattle
July 29, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Disposable bags have hidden costs
In response to Bruce Ramsey’s assertions ["Civil disagreement: Should Seattle tax disposable grocery bags?" seattletimes.com, Ed Cetera blog, July 23]: No, disposable bags aren’t free.
Plastic bags create a litter problem that the city has to spend tax dollars to fix. They also jam Seattle Public Utilities’ recycling equipment, which costs you as a ratepayer.
Moreover, we can only hazard an educated guess at the long-term environmental cost of the greenhouse-gas emissions created by producing paper and plastic bags.
Seattleites should support the voluntary fee on paper and plastic bags because it will benefit the environment and help reduce waste. I would think responsible Seattleites might also support Referendum 1 because it will save them money over the long term.
– Blair Anundson, Seattle
“Hurting the poor” line is no argument at all
I was incensed to see the full-page ad (shows you how much money they already have) paid for by the chemical industry urging Seattle citizens to vote against the plastic bag tax. It was a great relief a few pages later to see the thoughtful and coherent guest column by Kathy Fletcher and Denis Hayes urging us to pass the bag tax ["Vote to eliminate disposable grocery bags," Opinion, July 28].
It’s astonishing there is even a question about this: It’s so obvious that using cloth bags benefits everyone except Exxon, Chevron, DuPont and the ilk. The opposition’s pathetic and transparent attempt to cite the poor as sufferers if this sensible idea becomes law is a curious attempt to find something — anything — to grab a vote. The poor worldwide, and ever since shopping began, have used cloth or string bags — as has everyone with any sense.
– Nancy Pennington, Seattle
Let’s take care of the needy before the environment
I am very proud of how green our city has become. At our house, we hardly use our garbage disposal, recycle our food waste, yard clippings, bottles, papers and plastic bags. We also garden organically. Our car always carries reusable grocery bags, and we both have packs and bags for unexpected purchases.
However, when I first heard about the drive for a bag fee my very words to my husband were, “This will kill the poor and homeless.” In our drive to be environmentally sensitive, we need to also step out of our own worlds and think about being sensitive to the unpredictable lives of the least among us.
Not everyone leads my privileged existence. We should take care of the planet but not forget to take care of the suffering people on it.
– Toni Cross, Seattle
Politicians, please stay out of my kitchen
I just completed one of life’s simple pleasures — reading The Seattle Times. It arrived, as it does every day, in a plastic bag!
If we eliminate the plastic bags, can we still expect a clean, dry Seattle Times on our doorstep every morning?
We still use our supermarket bags to line garbage containers (in your face, Kathy Fletcher) and dutifully recycle any of the remaining bags. If we eliminate the plastic bags we will be required to buy replacements.
Reducing the number of plastic bags is a noble goal, but we should reach that goal through education, not legislation. Mayor [Greg] Nickels, please stay out of our kitchen.
– Merle Hanley, Seattle
With education, increase recycling and responsible use
Oh my, even our progressive environmentalists can fall behind the times and technology. Kathy Fletcher and Denis Hayes are right about the need to protect our natural world, but they seem to be stuck in that stereotypical “man and greedy business are to blame for destroying Mother Earth — if only the two would go away” train of thought.
The Environmental Protection Agency tells us plastic bags are more environmentally friendly than paper bags when considering the methods and shipping required for their respective production and, in fact, plastic causes less air and water pollution and is a better method of preventing food-borne illness.
For the record, I am not a greedy industrialist. Perpetuating eternal crises is the mantra of extremist groups, but is anyone really against Puget Sound? For them, theirs is the only enlightened path, and there is no compromise. Man and profit are always evil.
Well, the reality is, humans and their need to exist and thrive will not go away. In order to keep balance, man has always developed technology to solve its problems. Fletcher and Hayes demand complete and irrevocable removal of plastic bags from Seattle but do not mention the successes other large cities have experienced in reducing and recycling plastic. Phoenix, Twin Cities and states like Illinois and California, for example, have programs that have dramatically reduced plastic use and enhanced recycling efforts. In six months alone, Phoenix has increased recycling by 20 percent.
The truth so often is in the middle. Plastics serve a vital role in our society, but approaching the issue through recycling, anti-littering campaigns and judicious use is the answer — not taxing plastic bags.
Supporting responsible programs trumps hysteria. Fletcher and Hayes should get on board.
– Mark L. Bowers, Issaquah
Reusable bags are so much simpler
Kathy Fletcher and Denis Hayes’ guest column was informative and useful, as it showed the inherent waste of these bags as a compelling reason not to use them.
I switched primarily for convenience, as it was becoming a colossal pain dealing with those bulging bags. Some random observations about plastic bags.
My reusable carryalls stay in my car after being emptied. They wipe clean if necessary. They are stackable and light, yet quite sturdy.
Mine were $1, purchased at a dollar store.
This has been my system for a few years. For a while, I expected the checkers and cashiers would resent having their “bag by the belly” routine disrupted, but the opposite has been the case. They still try to scan them and charge me if I’m not on top of it, but generally they welcome reusable bag use.
I think people are resistant to this change because they don’t see what’s in it for them. If some of the grocery or retail behemoths offered something like the blue plastic bags, they could easily see a decent profit by doubling dollar-store prices, if not tripling them.
This opinion is offered by a person who is lazy and not a shining example for the recycling effort. I use these bags because it is so much simpler.
– Regina Ambrose, Auburn
Instead of taxing plastic bags, reward reusable bag use
I disagree with Kathy Fletcher and Denis Hayes’ guest column. While their desire to see fewer plastic bags befoul the environment has merit, their way of going about it lacks as much.
Instead of charging each shopper 20 cents per time they get a plastic bag, why not incentivize them by giving a discount when they opt to reuse one?
The grocery store where I shop already gives shoppers a 3-cents-per-bag discount when they use a reusable bag. It’s not much, but it’s something. It helps me remember to use the totes.
I suspect our local politicians like the idea of the bag tax because it’s another way for them to get revenue out of an already beleaguered consumer. The last thing we need is to give our city bureaucracy more money to mismanage.
– Marc Melino, Seattle
Plastic bag irony on my doorstep
I am in total agreement with Kathy Fletcher and Denis Hayes’ guest column regarding the bag tax. However, I find it ironic that this morning’s Seattle Times came inside a plastic bag!
– Steve Cramer, Federal Way
July 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM
City Council’s cottage proposal could make Seattle affordable
The Seattle City Council’s willingness to consider allowing backyard cottages throughout the city deserves a hearty “Bravo!” Perhaps with a bit of encouragement, the council could enact the policy without limits on how many are built per year and without owner residency requirements.
Even with a downward trend in home prices, Seattle is still unaffordable. The backyard-cottage proposal will encourage construction of small units, allowing some who otherwise couldn’t live in Seattle the opportunity to do so. It will also add to the stock of housing available to low-income and homeless people. The difference between an 800-square-foot cottage and living on the street or in a shelter is both substantial and reason enough to allow the cottages.
Of course, some will complain that cottages will mean “those people” will move into their neighborhoods or that their serenity will be disturbed. Why is it that a property owner’s rights must be trumped by those who don’t own the property? And why is it OK to effectively zone “those people” out of some neighborhoods?
Or is this just hysteria? Experience with the cottages in southeast Seattle suggests that it is.
Too many reasons for it, too few against — let’s give it a shot.
– Scott St. Clair, Olympia
Cottages will make neighborhoods more dense
That Bryan Stevens of the Seattle Department of Planning and Development can actually state that the addition of backyard cottages will not increase single-family neighborhood density indicates he needs a new job in the private sector.
– Don DeWeese, Seattle
June 17, 2009 at 4:00 PM
Oh the irony: homeless neglected while convicts cared for
As a homeless person, I am frustrated after reading Nancy Bartley’s article ["Homeless camp now on state property," NWWednesday, June 10] on the homeless encampment on state land just outside Seattle city limits.
I am not “homeless” by the federal definition, since I have my pickup to sleep in, but I am homeless, nevertheless.
I do very much resent all the money society spends caring for criminals in jails and prisons, while ignoring the basic needs of those whose only offense is the inability to afford a home. It makes me almost want to get arrested
Of course, I would be trading my freedom for three squares and a pad, medical and dental care, perhaps even an organ transplant, along with TV and other amenities. Freedom loses some of its appeal when you’re tired, wet, cold, hungry, maybe have a toothache and are broke to boot.
The homeless group in the article has organized to try to obtain a little security and dignity, and they don’t even have porta-potties, while convicted criminals have all their basic needs met.
It makes you wonder about societies’ priorities, doesn’t it?
– Gene “Sarge” Sargent, Milton
June 9, 2009 at 3:09 PM
Seattle can do better
I would love to see state and local officials decide to support the Nickelsville homeless camp in its latest location rather than once more try to force it to disband ["Campers return to South Park site," page one, June 8].
This would be a decided change of policy for Mayor Greg Nickels, but a person can hope! Nickelsville is an organized, important effort by homeless people themselves to solve a growing problem that the city has abdicated any responsibility for.
I was one of the 25 Nickelsville residents and supporters arrested for trespassing last September. The city dropped the charges against us on May 29.
It’s way past time to replace punitive and ineffective sweeps and arrests with a posture of active support for the homeless. Seattle government needs to replace the units of low-income housing lost in recent years to the profit-making schemes of developers, increase the amount of ongoing shelter space available, and help the Nickelodeons settle into a permanent home.
– Andrea Bauer, Seattle
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