Comments on tiny house commentary
Your story, "The Tiny Answer to One Park's Big Problem," is excellent, one of your best and most potentially useful. It's amazing how different discussion of a seemingly intractable urban problem such as homelessness becomes once a few actual solutions are identified. Perhaps you will remember that within the past 2-3 years, Los Angeles County invested hundreds of millions of dollars in low income housing for the homeless at a cost of $400-500,000 per unit! It's also remarkable how solvable challenging social problems are when the business community contributes its resources, expertise and political influence to altering a city for the better.
Tiny houses are one element of a four part strategy that has the potential to dramatically improve life for all citizens in American cities:
Large public and philanthropic investment in low income housing
A revitalized and adequately funded public mental health system which delivers ongoing weekly case management services to chronically mentally ill people
Income support that knocks out severe poverty, i.e., annual incomes less than 50% of the federal poverty standard
Each element of this package is necessary, though investing i one or two elements would be useful and an antidote to hopeless/ helpless attitudes of some policymakers.
You should expand on your comment: "I don't quite know what it is in Seattle character that made such a generous city somehow also become so habituated to mass human suffering." This is a hugely important question, not a subject to be avoided because it's painful and reflects poorly on residents of Seattle, as well as all of the U.S. Causes include libertarian ideas regarding personal accountability for one's emotional problems, liberal illusions re the potential effectiveness of emergency relief programs for the homeless, the unwillingness of policymakers and most of the electorate in this state to raise taxes for any reason, and, crucially, a process of desensitization that makes it possible to walk past freezing hungry people without a second's thought.
In addition, until recently, many Americans across the political spectrum have assumed that grandiose homelessness initiatives never work, because to date, they largely haven't worked. Taking away the rationalization that "we don't know what to do" and "we need more research studies," to figure out solutions is a big step forward for which you and other journalists and scholars deserve credit.
-- Dee Wilson