From the Seattle Times:
Seattle and King County could make the homelessness services system run like a fined-tuned machine, but without dramatically increasing the region’s supply of affordable housing options, solving the region’s homelessness crisis is all but impossible.
That is the central finding of a new, independent analysis of King County’s homelessness crisis by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which produced the report pro bono for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
The report estimates King County is short up to 14,000 units affordable for people experiencing homelessness. Because of the gap, and the rising numbers of people who are homeless, annual spending — public, private or both — needs to double to $410 million if the problem is to be solved, according to the report.
And that’s only if the annual rate of people becoming homeless doesn’t increase.
“This is a supply-side issue,” said Dilip Wagle, a McKinsey senior partner based in Seattle. “We are just running out of affordable housing units.”
So the great minds behind Enron have come up with a system in which they will offer free housing in one of the world’s most desirable places to live. World and U.S. population will continue to boom, yet the $410 million per year in free housing isn’t likely to be oversubscribed:
Some corporations keen to alleviate homelessness in their local communities already fund emergency shelters. These are crucial. But they are not a long-term solution. Affordable housing is.
The McKinsey geniuses don’t answer the question that always strikes me when I’m in Seattle and I see homeless folks camping in the cold rain: Since these unfortunate souls don’t have a job or a house, why don’t most of them move to Santa Monica and camp in a warm dry climate?
(I don’t think the answer is “Washington State provides more generous welfare benefits than California”; CATO Institute’s Work v. Welfare analysis in 2013 found that collecting welfare in California was worth 96.5 percent of the state’s median salary while in Washington State it was worth only 72 percent (see Table 4).)
Seattle does have a new “head tax” on companies such as Amazon that use office buildings within the city limits. This is supposed to be what funds the new construction of apartments for the currently “homeless.” Most of heads being taxed, presumably, commute in from the suburbs because they can’t afford prime urban residential real estate in a walkable neighborhood. This commute will have them spending 1-2 hours every day in some of the nation’s worst traffic. By contrast, people who haven’t worked for years or decades will be living in the desirable central city. Once this situation is fully developed, I would love to see the commuting suburban wage slaves call themselves smarter than the newly-housed urban “homeless”!