The Lewis County commissioners’ new policy of banning homeless encampments is astoundingly short-sighted.
Commissioner Sean Swope attacking the un-homed is a classic case of the cart-before-the-horse mixed in with some cynical political theater.
The core problem is lack of affordable housing, period.
An overnight shelter at the Salvation Army is not housing. If Swope and his enablers really want to address homelessness, put resources in place to create housing options. Start by instituting policies that provide incentives for investment in simple, low-cost living accommodations.
The strategy is known as Housing First. There are plenty of success stories.
Houston changed their approach to get more people into housing quickly and it cut their homelessness by more than half. Finland has reduced their homeless population to near zero using this same strategy.
Swope’s heartless hidden agenda is intended to make life as difficult as possible for the homeless in the hope they leave the county. However, most of our homeless population are longtime residents of Lewis County. These folks are not being shipped in from Texas. Lewis County is their home. Like it or not, they are our neighbors.
Swope is garnering his beloved press coverage by picking on the weak and vulnerable. They can’t fight back. It’s an easy political win for Swope.
Banning encampments does not cure homelessness. It just disburses the problem.
Creation of affordable housing works.