LETTER: Elect new council

As a former appointee to the Governor’s Commission on Homelessness, I was interested in the July 12 PDN article regarding the candidate forum on homelessness.

Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin diverted blame to the state sales tax, over which he lacks control. Is he saying the state tax is somehow contributing to homelessness by impoverishing the poor?

I found it revealing that council member LaTrisha Suggs said the homeless were people down on their luck, which was also my ill-informed opinion before I served on the commission.

I learned on the commission that only a very small percentage of homelessness is caused by ill fortune and that a vast majority of the homeless are either mentally ill or addicted to drugs or alcohol.

No community will ever achieve solutions to homelessness without addressing its root causes.

It is not primarily an issue of lack of housing; it is an issue of mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction.

Many local social service agencies and the current city council practice a form of unhelpful compassion, which enables addicts to continue to live a drug-addicted lifestyle.

Providing needles, tents, sleeping bags, clothing and food while failing to provide treatment for their addictions is less than compassionate. It is downright cruel.

If the community wants to address the problem of open drug use and public drunkenness, the solutions involve getting these people into public housing and access to mental health counseling and drug treatment.

It’s time to elect a new council willing to acknowledge and address this problem.

Rich James

Port Angeles

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