As you well know, homelessness in our larger cities, and even some smaller ones, has become a real problem in recent years. In places like San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, and many others, entire encampments exist, filled to the brim with makeshift shacks, tents, and cardboard structures to provide at least some sort of shelter.
Well, for a fortunate few in Seattle, their days of living on the streets and trying to eke out a living in the dumpsters are over, at least for now.
As the Emerald City just reported, it has recently finalized the purchase of a few luxury apartment buildings and is converting them to homes for the homeless.
It’s a noble idea, to be sure. As Emily Alvaredo, the Seattle Office of Housing director, says, “Everyone deserves a high quality, affordable place to call home.”
However, there are just a few problems with this one.
For starters, purchasing the three buildings in the Capitol Hill neighborhood cost the city some $48 million. That’s right, $48 million… And if that wasn’t bad enough, these buildings only include 165 actual units, with some being studio penthouses overlooking costly views of both the Space Needle and Puget Sound, according to Fox News.
That means that this is costing the city about $300,000 for each of these units, with plans of practically giving them away. As Fox reports, with the market as it is right now, it could cost the city two or three times less than this to build the apartments from scratch.
Of course, the city argues that these people need homes now and not in two or three years when construction on new buildings will be complete.
According to the city’s statement on the recent purchase, “While planning and construction for an affordable multifamily rental housing development can take up to several years to complete, Seattle’s current real estate market presents unique opportunities to acquire newly constructed market-rate apartment buildings and quickly convert them to affordable housing.”
And as Seattle’s liberal Mayor Jenny Durkan says, “Our homelessness crisis has always been about a housing crisis.”
To be sure, they have a point.
However, you’d think the city would try to find another way to solve the homelessness problem than by investing nearly $50 million into luxury homes that will all need to be revamped to house the homeless with any efficiency.
The small number of actual units also does little to solve the problems of the other 12,000 or so homeless that Seattle is estimated to have at this time. Sure, it gives a few hundred souls a place to lay their head at night, and those few hundred do matter.
But that still doesn’t negate the fact that the city just spent a massive fortune on only 165 apartments and luxury ones at that. If Seattle continues with this method of solving the homelessness crisis, which hopefully is doubtful, they will end up spending some $3.4 billion before it’s all said and done.
While those in the liberal city tend to spend a bit more on frivolous things and progressive ideals that go nowhere, I doubt all of them will agree that this purchase and solution plan is for the best. I mean, how do you recoup so much money when the people these homes are given to don’t have enough money to buy groceries or medication, let alone pay rent?
Another problem is that it’s not just the residents of Seattle who are paying for this purchase. Instead, it’s all of us, as the city uses monies taken from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that our Democratic congress put through in March to pay for this extravagant purchase.
And it seems the city may just have started its spending spree.
While Mayor Durkan has announced that she is not running for re-election, one of the leading contenders in next month’s election, Lorena Gonzalez, has made it quite clear that she is all for radical spending as long as it’s “focused on new policy to transform the city’s housing stock.”
Maybe that’s why she’s currently down in the polls by some 15 points compared to her more moderate competitor Bruce Harrell.
In any case, Seattle and other large cities with massive homeless problems will never be able to solve those crises unless they truly begin to look at the root of them. And let’s just say that isn’t the lack of housing…