Re: “Matt Driscoll: Homeless sweep at the Jungle shines a light on a failed approach” (TNT, 4/28).
The City of Tacoma’s sudden formal acknowledgement of its homeless crisis is welcome news. Thanks, Mayor Strickland; and thanks also to Matt Driscoll for his column that shined a very visible light on a failing approach.
Multiple factors trap people into homelessness: job loss, housing prices, physical and behavioral health problems, medical bankruptcies, etc. One factor that contributes to increasing the failure is punitive government land use policies that severely restrict where homeless people may camp if they have no access to housing or legally available shelter beds, and that further disrupts their recovery by requiring them to move every 90 days.
A better approach - granted one that will not fully solve homelessness - would be to create places where well-managed campgrounds could be located, recovery services provided, basic sanitation and public health services made available. Government should provide support and encourage recovery while allowing people to stay until they have regained situational stability, following a few basic rules.
Another approach would be to allow “tiny houses” in acceptable locations as a next step on the path up to recovery.
Our homeless crisis is akin to a refugee crisis. Maybe international refugee support models can provide other solutions.