Op-Ed: United Way of King County response to U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding people experiencing homelessness

Sunday, June 30, 2024

The United States Supreme Court ruling that people experiencing homelessness can be arrested and fined for sleeping in public places moves our nation backward in being able to resolve the homelessness crisis and places even more burdens and debts on the most vulnerable individuals in our communities.

Punishing people for being unhoused is not a solution to end homelessness and does not address the underlying issues of the crisis. People experiencing homelessness already have nowhere to go – through no fault of their own – and this ruling will exacerbate the problem.

At United Way of King County, we believe in investing in and implementing prevention strategies—currently few and far between—to ensure people don’t fall into homelessness in the first place. We need our national and local governments to invest more to ensure affordable housing is readily available for renters with the lowest income. Our community deserves stronger renter protections and eviction prevention resources to stabilize households during a crisis so they don’t fall into homelessness.

We believe that this ruling will fail to reduce homelessness, requiring an extreme need for resources and funding to make sure further harm is not placed on the unhoused. This ruling does not lead with real solutions or facts.

Data shows that meeting people with individualized immediate access to stable housing and other wrap-around services and case management will lead to housing stability. Rather than leading with an approach to invest in adequate housing, shelter, and financial resources, this ruling punishes unhoused people for being in a vulnerable situation and not having a home.

Further, Black, Indigenous, and people of color experience homelessness at higher rates due to longstanding historical and structural racism, as well as single mothers with children under 18. This ruling, along with raising housing costs and gaps in income levels, will not solve any issues for these populations, which should be prioritized.

Prevention efforts are more important than ever. Our community deserves to ensure that no one is punished or criminalized for being unhoused.

United Way of King County


Anonymous,  June 30, 2024 at 10:45 AM  

Vote blue and keep our Supreme Court balanced

Anonymous,  June 30, 2024 at 6:49 PM  

I am happy with the ruling and tired of homeless doing as they please

Anonymous,  July 2, 2024 at 9:31 AM  

You’re just one unexpected event away from being homeless yourself.

Anonymous,  July 3, 2024 at 1:57 AM  

Leave it to the NGOs to complain when their gravy train is threatened. Our region spends billions of taxpayer dollars on our homeless population, only to get little in return.

There are people living out of their cars because they couldn't afford rent. The thing is that the "deserving homeless" are a distinct minority of our homeless population. Most of our homeless have serious drug addictions, need inpatient mental health treatment, or both.

There's also the issue of generous services attracting people to our area, enabling the lifestyle. I have an acquaintance in her 20s who lived in Seattle a few years back, then moved away, and then when she asked but none of our friends had a room to rent to her, she chose to move back here and live out of her car. She has well off divorced parents across the country, but she'd rather consume services in Seattle than live in either of her parents' households.

The Supreme Court's ruling was correct. We have a right to prohibit people from ruining our parks, sidewalks, and green spaces by squatting in them. While we should do what we can to help the poor afford housing, we must also police behavior. The west coast was once a nice place to live. Now there's an app tracking human waste on the streets of San Francisco. Look around, then ask yourself whether the United Way and our state and local governments are handling this problem well or making it worse.

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