Return to single-room hotels for the homeless

OlympiaJanuary 15, 2013 

The homeless problem has been an issue in Thurston County, and in most of the nation, for years, yet we ignore the role of government in contributing to this problem.

Residential hotels, which are often called single-room occupancy hotels, and boarding houses were a significant source of shelter for many low-income workers in American cities for 200 years. Nationwide government-sponsored redevelopment programs have played a major role in destroying about one million single-room occupancy units.

Five-thousand single-room occupancy units were eliminated in Seattle and 1,700 in Portland. Zoning regulations have outlawed or reduced the number of boarding houses available for low-income people and others to rent.

Without a doubt this is one of the major causes contributing to the homeless problem nationwide.

Instead of opening the market and allowing SRO and boarding houses to be built once again, many people across the political spectrum are seeking to criminalize the homeless.

Washington Libertarians and other free-market groups support the repeal of regulations that restrict single-room occupancy hotels, boarding houses and other alternatives.

Criminalizing the homeless because government outlawed boarding houses and destroyed SRO hotels makes no sense.

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