We've received hundreds of comments and questions since the City of Seattle opened its first homeless camp where drugs and alcohol are allowed.
The camp, located on Aurora Ave. N., features 22 tiny homes and is owned and operated by the Low Income Housing Institute, a non-profit based in Seattle.
Sharon Lee, the organization's executive director, responded to some questions and comments from our Facebook followers.
FACEBOOK QUESTION: "Homeless all over the country flocking to Seattle as we speak. Why the hell not, I would. Free clothes, food, housing and needless. How does all this help the Seattle homeless problem?"
LEE: "Well, I'd say every major city has hundreds, if not thousands of homeless people. Many of Seattle's homeless community are locals."
FACEBOOK QUESTION: "If there's one thing you can guarantee about drug addicts, it's that if you enable them to do drugs, they will NEVER stop. This is all a giant waste of money."
LEE: "We think it's very important people have a safe place to live. At that point, you can address their alcoholism or addiction. The moment we house people, they have their bathroom. They're not urinating in public. They have a bed, so they're not sleeping in someone's doorway. They have a community space, so they're not wondering around. It's made a big difference. They're no longer going to the emergency room or getting picked up by police. We're saving millions and millions of dollars in emergency medical costs, public safety costs and in jail time."
FACEBOOK QUESTION: "Isn't alcohol and drugs one of the reasons why they are homeless?! Why is the city enabling them, instead of helping them?"
LEE: "I think the solution would be to offer a full array of alcohol and drug treatment, counseling, detox and medical care. We have to be compassionate. In some cases, it's a disease. In some cases, it's a disability. They need resources and services. Keeping them homeless isn't going to help."
FACEBOOK QUESTION: "Coincidentally (or not), this is what we came across in our alley at Green Lake today: 15 kids (ages 1-16) live in this alley and actively play in it every single day. There is just more of this to come with this city's deterioration and crazy policies for handling the homeless issue." [This post included a photo of used drug needles.]
LEE: "Even before we opened the camp, we found lots of needles. We know there's an existing homeless population and drug population in many neighborhoods. It's a pre-existing condition. We think we're going to make the situation better. Eyes on the street. Security people who can call police and discourage people from loitering or lingering around."
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