Letters to the Editor

Homelessness is a state of emergency

While Gov. Inslee is touring the country sounding the alarm about the climate emergency, there’s an emergency right on his doorstep that calls for immediate attention from the state and federal government: the crisis of homelessness.

Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia have all declared emergencies to cope with the large numbers of our neighbors who have no place to shelter. More than 22,000 individuals have no shelter in our state, mostly due to the increased cost of housing. And those are just the people who have been counted. The numbers are probably much higher.

We cannot place the blame for this situation on the people suffering the most from it.

Cities and counties do not have the resources to deal with the problem. Olympia has provided a contaminated parking lot for people to live in tents. Is this the best we can do when there are many empty storefronts in the county to provide a warm, dry shelter from the wind and rain? Would renting out a few storefronts really cost much more than a totally inadequate and disgraceful tent city?

And where is the state in all of this? Gov. Inslee has the power to declare a state of emergency with a stroke of the pen that would marshal the financial and physical resources of the federal and state government. We have unused buildings — empty barracks at JBLM and dormitories at Evergreen State College — where services and police are already present.

Please ask the governor to declare an emergency on homelessness!