There is an epidemic of broke and broken adults. Many people who survive childhood or adult traumas (abuse, neglect and more) without therapeutic attention suffer a lifetime of mental disorders including self-medicating addictions. Additionally, hard times and bad luck can strike anytime. Many of us are just a diagnosis or a tragedy away from despair.
I’m certain that we need to build resilience to poverty, mental illness and addiction upstream. Prevention is Sustainable.
Meanwhile, everybody deserves to recover, even when their demons are directing them to lay low or stay on the path of destruction.
I suspect that once people take a few steps toward their recovery, most Seattleites would open their homes, businesses and wallets to further support these people in their upward mobility.
We have to make choosing recovery an irresistible opportunity. Right now we don’t even have an obvious and easy-to-access portal for recovery. When someone is ready to choose recovery, we need to embrace them in that moment completely.
$200M is being spent annually by King County and the City of Seattle to deal with the crisis of homelessness which itself is a symptom. It’s easy to say it’s about building more affordable housing, which is super important and I have many ideas for how we can put that effort on steroids, but fixing homelessness is really about fixing broke and broken people and protecting them from becoming broke and broken in the first place.
Many of Seattle and King County’s downstream strategies to address those broke and broken people’s issues aren’t working at all. Even “bright spot analyses” are hard to come by which would allow us to at least replicate successes that may be occurring in some areas. One incredibly sad reality is that neither Seattle nor King County even know who composes this unfortunate group of people. The nature of their problems are instead generalized which ignores opportunities to address people as individuals. Meanwhile, upstream strategies – things that would actually fix the problems – are mostly non-existent.
As a councilmember, expect me to be vigilant and critical of seemingly co-dependent relationships with the problems because the failure industry has a way of creeping in. This happens when success relies on more failure. It’s not that different from the perverse incentives of running a private prison – more prisoners is good business. In this way “the homelessness crisis” reminds me of the “the achievement gap”. Tons of money is being spent, a mushrooming of industries responds to that money, and evidence of progress is difficult to find. Some call it the “schools to tent pipeline” and that’s probably not too far off.
Another important aspect of solving this crisis of broke and broken adults is sharing the responsibility fairly with the other towns and cities in King County, our state, and beyond. Two-thirds of the population of King County is outside of the City of Seattle, yet few facilities and programs are distributed there. Everyplace needs to take on the responsibility of providing solutions in ratio with their populations. Another post “A Sharing Problem, Part 1” addresses that in more depth.
As a councilmember, you can expect me to focus on recovery strategies and to insist that the other jurisdictions pull their fair share of the load.