Sunday’s editorial headline “Time to pony up for local homeless housing” had the emphasis backward. It could have read, and in my opinion ought to have read: “Homeless tax issue on ballot will save millions.”
As a volunteer at SideWalk, a rapid-rehousing agency in Oly, and I am learning there are very different sub-groups under the blanket term “homeless.” As the article stated over 3,000 people experience homelessness annually. For a significant percentage just getting back into housing puts them on a course where they never require further housing assistance.
The Home Fund’s proposed tax measure is not about them. It is about the most vulnerable, most needy, and most expensive citizens we have: the chronically homeless. These are people with mental and/or physical disabilities who are not truly capable of the kinds of decisions that can keep them housed and out of trouble.
Ignoring the humanitarian aspects, which in my opinion is reason enough for the measure to pass, and focusing solely on their cost to us as taxpayers and insurance buyers makes this proposal a huge financial winner. Chronically homeless people have the highest percentage of non-reimbursed visits to Emergency Rooms, the highest encounter rate with law enforcement, cost the most per capita in municipal clean-up efforts, and contribute the most toward making the downtown area uncomfortable for some people.
Even those with hearts hard as stone should be able do the math and see this bill would save us all millions.