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Why Ben Carson Must Reject Seattle’s Scheme For Homeless Encampments


The Trump administration may hand over valuable federal real estate to Seattle, at practically no cost, all so radical leftists can build yet another out-of-control, lawless homeless encampment.

Is this the right move? Not even a little bit. This would be another thread in a long string of local moves that give the appearance of helping the vulnerable homeless population while instead exacerbating the problem. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and the White House must tell Seattle to take a hike over what they propose to do on government land.

Seattle has a growing crime and vagrancy problem. Like many West Coast cities, our communities are flooded with drugs, homeless encampments, broken-down RVs, human waste, and other disgusting displays of antisocial behavior. Our parks are being trashed, businesses are leaving the city, and Seattleites are scared to walk to work. The popular Facebook page “Seattle Looks Like Sh-t” sums up the situation bluntly.

And Seattle’s leftist political class is largely to blame. The open-air use of narcotics is a normal fixture of everyday Seattle life because public officials refuse to prosecute personal possession of hardcore drugs, even up to five grams of heroin, meth, or cocaine. Consequently, cops can’t leverage jailtime over addicts to get them to turn on their drug dealers. Even the drug dealers are evolving, carrying less product to sell on the streets.

No Country For Young Children

Criminals literally roam the streets with impunity. One investigation revealed that 100 prolific offenders alone were responsible for more than 3,500 crimes, revolving in and out of jail like a department store entrance. Call it Seattle’s version of “catch and release.”

Local homeless criminal Francisco Calderon, for instance, has been booked by police more than 70 times for crimes ranging from theft and drug possession to property damage and various assaults. One of Calderon’s most recent alleged victims was a two-year-old. According to the police report, he threw coffee in the child’s face. This incident came days after Calderon was released for a previous crime.

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes emphasized that his office is guided by a pre-commitment to social justice, claiming that Calderon and other offenders like him are just victims of racism.

“The reason that they’re cycling in and out of the system,” lamented Holmes, is because the system “was never designed to deal with mental health issues, with poverty, with institutional racism frankly.”

Then there’s homelessness. The problem is out of control. The city concedes that there are at least 400 illegal encampments littered across town. Our parks have become public toilets and our sidewalks are dumping grounds for needles. But as with drugs and crime, the city’s leadership is unserious about cleaning up the mess.

How unserious? Seattle made headlines recently because a taxpayer-funded conference on alleviating homelessness featured a transgender stripper who goes by the name of Beyoncé Black St. James. The group hosting this conference called “All Home” actually coordinates our county’s response to homelessness. The bureaucrat who invited Black St. James to “perform” bagged an annual salary of $123,000 before resigning amidst public outrage.

Yes, Homeless People May Live In Your Yard

Meanwhile, Seattle politicians continue taking steps toward normalizing people living on the street. One openly socialist city councilmember, Kshama Sawant, has sponsored a bill that would permit tent cities “on all publicly owned or private property within the City of Seattle.” If passed, homeowners wouldn’t even be allowed to offer public input when an encampment is sanctioned near their residences.

Politicians here may treat community concerns with such unbridled contempt, but the White House doesn’t need to give Seattle an assist. In fact, Carson can demand Seattle go back to the drawing board on what the city proposes to do with a chunk of federal land.

There is a decommissioned Army reserve base called Ft. Lawton in one of the few remaining conservative-friendly neighborhoods of Seattle. It is populated mostly with families. Rather than pay their fair share for some 34 acres worth in the millions, Seattle is begging the federal government to transfer the property to them for pennies on the dollar. Seattle justifies this by proposing to build “affordable housing,” including 85 units reserved for “supportive housing.”

Since the proposed development is on federal land and involves housing, Secretary Carson must sign off. He should zero-in on those 85 units.

“Supportive housing” is usually the city’s slick way of describing housing arranged for homeless persons with severe addiction issues and psychotic tendencies. When you get into the details, Seattle admits that “residential counselors” will be needed at the location around-the-clock to deal with the disorderly conduct likely to happen.

There are also case managers assigned to the location who are authorized to “leverage outside behavioral health services, including chemical dependency treatment and mental health services, and bring providers onsite when possible.” Anticipating a high volume of visits from medical personnel, the proposal sets aside rooms inside the building for “physicians and visiting nurses.”

Translation: Seattle seems to be trying to establish what amounts to a methadone clinic in a residential neighborhood, and build even more middle-class homes around it.

Bring Your Dangerous Behavior to Another Neighborhood

The city isn’t confidant, however, that these new occupants will be able to adhere to basic tenant-landlord expectations, yet they are hoping to “increase a resident’s ability to abide by lease requirements” despite their, in Seattle’s words, “condition.”

Making matters worse, the group tapped to oversee these units is Catholic Housing Services (CHS). They are one of those ostensibly religious organizations that use “faith” as a cover to push a progressive agenda. CHS asserts, for example, that poverty and homelessness are linked to the “effects of intolerance and racism.” When you bat for Team Social Justice, it’s always somebody else’s fault.

In theory, social services that help break drug addiction and alleviate mental health episodes are preferable to jailtime. We’d rather people get the support they need so they can live as productive members of a community. But the “carrots” of treatment are only as effective as the “sticks” of deterrence used to enforce them.

Take away the enforcement mechanism of the stick, and there is no incentive to indulge the carrot. This explains why Seattle’s radical experiment tolerating antisocial behavior has caused the scourge of drugs, crime, and homelessness to explode. And now city leaders are on the cusp of putting yet another neighborhood in danger by creating a shiny new center to attract those determined to flout the law openly without any repercussions.

Amazon Isn’t the Problem, People

We’ve seen this movie before. Soon after Seattle opened up a government housing project similar to Ft. Lawton, family events like movie night at the nearby park were shut down over growing security concerns. In another neighborhood, police logged a whopping 221 percent increase in reported crimes and other disturbances after Seattle unveiled drug-friendly, low-barrier shelters called “tiny house villages.”

At yet another government housing complex, the fire department was dispatched 218 times just in the last year. One of those residents had this to say regarding Seattle’s cruel form of compassion: “I don’t feel safe here at all. Not at all.”

The examples are never-ending. But I don’t need to convince Carson that my city needs an intervention. He already knows it. He joined my Seattle-based talk show to talk about Seattle’s ludicrous claim that housing affordability is really behind the homelessness crisis.

City leaders love to blame Amazon for driving up rents, while mostly ignoring the role addiction and mental health play in what we’re seeing in our streets every day. Their position is driven by ideology, not data. Public health and safety, Carson observed on my show, should never take a backseat to unhinged progressive politics.

He’s right. That’s why Dr. Carson should reject Seattle’s Ft. Lawton proposal, which is in his power to do as HUD secretary.