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Treat Problems not just Symptoms

Everywhere you look around Western Washington or around the nation, too many people are living on the streets, in their cars, in homeless encampments. Too many people, especially elected officials view this as a true problem that needs to be solved. This is not the main problem that we need to deal with. If we solve the real problems, the problems that create situations where people end up not living in conventional housing … perhaps we can significantly reduce homelessness or the more pc the number of people experiencing homelessness. Let’s look at some of the problems that manifest themselves as homelessness:

Drug Dependency and Crime
Whether it’s heroin in the 1970s, marijuana in the 80s, cocaine in the 90s, methamphetamine in the 2000s, Oxycodone in the teens, or Fentanyl today... recreational use of mind-altering drugs is popular. Unfortunately, the effect on the brain and body by these drugs create drug dependency problems. Also (and perhaps unfortunately) the illegality of these drugs creates crime problems. These drugs are typically distributed by criminal gangs and become expensive. Many users resort to crime to feed their dependency. The crime truly has become a bigger problem for our society than homelessness.
There are two ways for our society to treat this problem. We can create a low-cost supply to put the cartels out of business and to prevent the need for users to engage in criminal activity. Or we can provide quality treatment to not only ween the drug dependent away from the drugs but also to treat any underlying behavioral health issues.

Behavioral Health Issues
Some of those who are experiencing homelessness have behavioral health issues unrelated to drug dependency. As a society we are failing in our duty to take care of these people. Before the Reagan years, these people were forced into treatment facilities many of which were basically warehouses for those who were unable to care for themselves. It was decided that this was poor and expensive way to deal with the problem and these people were released to the streets without providing any treatment. We need to take care of these underlying mental health issues so that they don’t have to live on the streets.

Lack of Employment
Currently there are plenty of employment opportunities for those who are willing to show up every day, on time and ready to work. There are however, a few, who are experiencing homelessness who don’t have the job skills necessary in today’s workplace. We need to find those few who are experiencing homelessness, who aren’t drug users, and who don’t have behavioral health issues; and provide training and internship opportunities to enable them to get meaningful jobs.

Major Health expenses.
There are also a few people who have lost their homes because they couldn’t pay their rent and the exorbitant costs for drugs and care for some serious health issues. Parts of the homelessness problem can be solved through better, more comprehensive, and more affordable medical insurance.

As a society we can’t solve the homelessness problem without treating the root causes of homelessness.