Tiny houses are not the answer

Last week’s news: Seattle has trouble with their tiny house villages. Oh really?

Hopefully, Bob Roegner and other promoters of shelter or tiny houses for Federal Way’s homeless population are paying attention. Crime is up 104 percent there, rapes are all too frequent, women’s handbags are being grabbed off their shoulders and nearby homeowners are being burglarized on a regular basis. Trash and needles are everywhere, in the parks, on the streets and in their neighbors’ yards.

All the while, Seattle city leaders are busy planning a head tax on business to pay for more tiny houses. Congratulations, Seattle! Your grand prize for your charitable acts is you have just adopted hundreds of drug addicts and helped them move into their forever homes. They’ll never leave their homes again, except to commit a crime for their next fix. They now have everything they need. Free food, free clothing and, now, free shelter. Who needs to work? (Talk about the cart before the horse.)

What I believe our leaders should be doing is: One, attend to the mentally ill on our streets. They need direction for a better life, and they cannot do it alone. Two, offer immediate drug treatment and training for re-entry into the real world for employment and a path to self-sufficiency. Put your horses before your carts and put your bucks into those endeavors if you want to reduce homelessness in Federal Way.

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again. I do not believe that jailing the mentally ill and the drug addicts for petty crimes is the answer. Our criminal justice system sees the same people over and over again. Move them directly and immediately to beds for drug rehabilitation. So much money is being spent on police officers, courts, prosecutors, public defenders and probation officers. Time and dollars, it seems to me, would be better spent if devoted to hunting down the dealers and meth labs in town. The average addict is not going to make it to all those court dates and check in with a probation officer every week. It’s not in their DNA. The average drug addict does not have an automobile or an alarm clock. A drug addict lives from one fix to another. A drug addict is not thinking about the sunny side of the street or looking for a job because they sleep all day. The most effort s/he will expand is planning a crime. Because, without committing a crime, there is no money for a fix.

Please, direct city dollars toward finding a way to fix the addiction problem (which is a disease), rather than continually adding more amenities. They will only serve to make the addict more comfortable in the hole he has dug for himself. I guarantee it, if you were to take drug tests on every Federal Way homeless person, you will find that at least 90 percent of that population is drinking or using.

It surprises me that this country’s leaders continue to reinvent the wheel. For crying out loud – isn’t it time to try something else?

For instance, I think it’s probably time to admit that legalizing marijuana and opening retail shops all over the place was a disastrous mistake. Greed prompted that move. There are more DUIs, more children gaining access to the drug via their careless parents, more cases of drug possession in schools, numerous hold-ups or break-ins of marijuana shops. And, incidentally, the cartel is still supplying local unlawful dealers. Those are the guys we should be directing all police attention to.

Sure – the tax revenue has been exciting for states who have legalized. But at what cost? What, after all, is more important? The almighty dollar or the safety and sanity of our citizens? The only thing gained from this stupid decision is more addicts. It’s highly addictive and it’s a gateway drug leading to even more destructive drugs. Even if the marijuana user does not move on to cocaine, crack, methamphetamine or heroin, she or he is damaged forever. Marijuana causes brain damage. Users tend to look unkempt, lose drive and are lazy. What young users really want to do is lay around all day, eating sweets and laughing at things the average Joe would not find funny. They don’t want to go to school or get a job. Not your model citizen – but, when they grow up, still smoking the funny stuff or having moved on up to worse drugs, they are candidates for a tiny house.

Oh… and then there is the decision by nearby city leaders to offer safe injection sites. Our gain there? Lives saved, perhaps. Those folks will also hang on forever, not making any changes in their lives. But, they will be standing in line for a tiny house. I would bet that the heroin addicts being served at a safe site in Vancouver, B.C., have been enjoying that safe site for a heck of a long time. Still addicts, still unemployed because they are still unemployable addicts.

Please offer our homeless a chance at a better life. Save them from themselves. It will take some hand-holding and there will be those rogue drug addicts who will refuse to change. Those are the bad apples who have no business tainting our lives. And, they are. They are tainting our lives! There I am truly stumped, other than to suggest we banish them to a vacant island in the San Juans. Just as we put chronic sex offenders in prison on one of those islands in the San Juans. If a reader of this letter has any new ideas, please share them with everyone. Send a letter. I lose sleep over this problem, and I wish it would go away.

There will be some readers of my letter who think I am being disrespectful of the homeless. No, I am not. I feel just as bad for them as anyone else. Addiction and alcoholism are a disease. Why are we not treating the disease instead of pouring money into the result of that disease? Treat this problem as we would any other medical problem. The criminal aspect is the fallout of our inaction to the medical problem. Horse before the cart!

Sheryl Nevers, Federal Way

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