EDITORIAL | The mindset of ‘zero tolerance’ for homeless camping

Washington gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant, whose campaign is finally getting around to futilely appealing to Seattle voters, put in his public testimony about the city’s homeless crisis earlier this month.

To qualify his statements as well informed, Bryant mentioned how he’s worked at a men’s shelter before. We drive in Seattle traffic, but that doesn’t qualify us to dictate how to engineer better roads.

Credit is owed to Bryant for not mentioning his bid for governor, which has to be the least desirable position in Olympia. We’ve got $100,000 fines coming from the state Supreme Court over education funding, a terrible state transportation system and mental health and substance abuse issues galore, and for more than a year the Republican base has blamed the current governor for all of it. Best build a sturdy cabinet, sir.

Bryant said of the homeless crisis in Seattle that he would have “zero tolerance” for campers, saying there needs to be a stronger community based approach to mental health and substance abuse. This has been a push by the left for years and years, but those decision-makers in Olympia and Washington, D.C., never seem to be able to cobble together the kind of substantial funding needed to make a real impact.

The Seattle Police Department only has so many resources, and they seem better spent dealing with real crimes, as opposed to people living in tents and carrying their lives around on their backs.

Obviously there is a real need for more and better shelter options and rapid construction of affordable housing, but the homeless can’t really wait for the city and county to keep batting these things around in committees.

No one wants to have their parks, sidewalks and playfields inundated by tents, sleeping bags, garbage, drugs and paraphernalia, but that’s already happening. The city council and mayor can talk about regulating camping until the Sonics come home, but it’s not going to do anything. It will be about as effective as the tickets left on RVs around the city; paper that gets wet and tossed aside.

We’d really like to see from Bryant — and all of the politicians that know what’s best — some new ideas. We know a lot of people on the streets are suffering from addiction and mental health issues. We know there needs to be better funding for these items.

Until then, we need some solutions that don’t just herd the homeless around like cattle, from one space to another, until there’s a permanent housing solution for the thousands of people living outside.

Maybe Bryant can use his clout in the Port of Seattle to negotiate a good price for a bunch of shipping containers from bankrupt importer Hanjin to help out. Shipping container homes are not only cheaper than traditional housing option, they’re trendy.

If Bryant wants to have zero tolerance for homeless campers, that’s fine. We’re not here to endorse either candidate, but if Bryant gets into office, we truly hope he pushes for real funding to assist Seattle with dealing with the homeless crisis and the entire state with tackling the heroin and opioid crisis