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November 27, 2013 at 7:34 AM
Change is difficult, but the city can’t cling to the past
Thanks to The Seattle Times for urging me to step outside my comfort zone in order to gracefully accept the micro-housing being constructed without any parking allotment: the apartments and condos being built with inadequate off-street parking and other high-density, low-parking plans for my Ballard neighborhood [“A coherent affordable housing strategy needed,” Opinion, Nov. 21].
September 17, 2013 at 6:27 AM
In a recent editorial, The Times repeated claims that density is good for Seattle because it “creates more vibrant, walkable neighborhoods.” [“How to build denser Seattle neighborhoods,” Opinion, Sept. 9.]
Well, I beg to differ.
Seattle’s vibrancy is not enhanced by the current policy of blindly permitting “density” housing no matter how it looks, nor how cramped or jampacked. Just take a trip to Ballard and gaze at the monstrous and hugely unattractive high-density nightmares at 15th Avenue and Market Street.
Only a Pollyanna could call this the face of a “vibrant” city when, in fact, it is merely a glorified block tenement obscenely out of place in terms of size and style. Such disastrous results, and others like it throughout the city, are the predictable end product of Seattle’s single-minded policy of density at any cost.
Planners have drunk the density Kool-Aid for too long and too deeply, without realizing that today’s apartment-dwellers are predominantly young. It’s a good bet they will look positively on raising future families away from Seattle’s cramped rabbit-warren-like living spaces, migrating instead to nearby communities that offer more choices while they approach growth with a creative balance rather than a zealous insistence on density.
James Kobe, Seattle
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 8, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Apathy toward growing problem
While I wasn’t shocked at the city of Seattle’s decision to reject Nick Licata’s proposal, I was slightly thrown by some of the comments on the recent editorial on homelessness. [“Who will step up to help the homeless?”, Opinion, Aug. 4.]
I am starting to understand that there is widespread apathy in this country toward those who are struggling. I too wonder where the Seattle churches are, and why they are not stepping up. Meanwhile, the problem isn’t getting any better.
Currently, nearly one out of every six Americans is living in poverty. Four walls and perhaps a plumbing system are the only difference between the 2,500 homeless people in Seattle and the 766,000 others in the state of Washington who live below the poverty line.
There is a Facebook site that puts a face to Seattle’s homeless, called Homeless in Seattle. Many of these people are attempting to earn their way, just like so many other families that are struggling in the U.S. today. They just don’t have four walls to hide behind.
Johna Peterson, Olympia
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
August 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM
One problem could solve the other
In the Tuesday edition of The Seattle Times, I see two articles on the same front page of the local news: one on the Nickelsville homeless encampment, which must pull up stakes by mid-September [“City Council votes down bill for tent camps,” NW Tuesday, July 30]; and one on the mostly vacant PacMed Building [“State rejects PacMed lease; use of building for college up in air,” NW Tuesday, July 30]. Coincidence?
But I don’t expect this problem to be solved too soon, and certainly not in the manner in which my mind jumped to a solution which would benefit both. There’s the matter of money, which seems to erase all vestiges of human compassion in these matters.
It would be too easy to fill the PacMed building with homeless people and figure out a way to fund it. The powers that be wouldn’t make nearly — if any — profit that way.
Oh well, just a thought.
Alice Dale Gray, Port Orchard
July 4, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Why you should buy a house
Sharon Pian Chan, you are confused. [“Column: Why you should not buy a house,” Opinion, July 1.]
I can relate to you a slightly different tale. My wife and I and our two kids moved to Seattle in 1987 without enough money to make a down payment on a house. We rented for nine years. As we moved from there I realized we’d paid $137,000 in rent. What did we have to show for that investment? A $600 cleaning bill!
We moved to Whidbey, and built a house with the help of a friend. Now, another nine years later, we used our equity here to get a reverse mortgage so we now have no house payments for the next 30 years and have quite a bit of money in the bank.
So when you spent that money on rent, did you also have enough money to invest elsewhere?
Randall Schwab, Langley
July 2, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Column was elitist, out-of-touch
Sharon Pian Chan should be ashamed of her elitist, out-of-touch column [“Why you should not buy a house,” Opinion, July 1.]
Her basic premise — that homeownership is a bad idea — may have some validity. Economists are free to debate that.
However, she is way out of line in moaning about the alleged hardships in her own experience. She had to agonize about paint colors. She had to eat food from her remodeled kitchen. A pipe broke. Her pet wasn’t housebroken. She had to go to Home Depot. She didn’t get to go to Istanbul.
Boy, life’s a bear, isn’t it?
Perhaps Chan should descend from her Capitol Hill condo long enough to spend some time in Washington’s real world. She’d find people with substandard housing or no housing at all; people without enough to eat; people who wouldn’t worry about the kitchen’s paint color. She’d find people who couldn’t pay for a Greyhound ride to Portland, let alone a trip to Istanbul.
She would, in short, find thousands of people who would gladly trade their problems for hers.
Gordon MacCracken, Centralia
June 19, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Getting the homeless inside is a priority
Patience with Nicklesville has proved useless. [“Editorial: Seattle Council presses on against homelessness,” Opinion, June 17.] But the first priority of the Seattle City Council and the Legislature is the construction or securing of buildings to house the homeless.The Times is right to urge more mental health and chemical dependency services, but wrong to not first emphasize getting the homeless inside, at least at night.
A sizable percentage of the homeless are mentally ill. I have been among the first to be kicked out of shelters in Lerado, Texas, and New York City. Our less-ill brethren get the food, beds or chairs.
More beds in monitored, single or shared rooms will keep us from being robbed in a bus or subway stop, or dangerously beaten up, as I have been. I have actually listened to a Medicaid-funded counselor oppose funding a complex to house 56 homeless people.
John Freeburg, Bremerton
May 3, 2013 at 6:06 AM
Affordable housing is scarce because of strict regulations
Rachel Myers’ op-ed bemoaned the lack of affordable housing in Seattle [“Affordable housing is a myth for struggling King County families,” Opinion, April 28]. The “cures” were the same we always hear: Squeeze developers to sell below market, more government funding and prohibit landlords from turning away Section VIII applicants.
The next day, a Seattle Times editorial attacked an innovative-housing product and the entrepreneurs who are privately addressing the problem [“Seattle should impose controls on ‘aPodments,’” Opinion, April 29]. Why is low-income housing so scarce here?
Seattle smugly regulated the flop houses out of business with code stipulations that made housing low-income people prohibitive, throwing hundreds out on the streets. Is an indigent human being safer and better off getting drunk in some fleabag hotel or shooting up in a brier patch on Lower Queen Anne?
Every land use, insulation, lead paint, energy, sprinkler, plumbing, electrical, or anti-discrimination-code upgrade dissuades more owners from renting at all. Present landlord-tenant laws so burden property owners that getting rid of a bad renter is like pulling teeth. It involves lawyers, the sheriff and months on end while the tenant refuses to pay and trashes the place on the way out.
Jeffrey Howard, Redmond
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