Friday, August 21, 2020

Dear Seattle Governing Community

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Note: Yesterday (8/20/20) at the suggestion of Larry Coffman, editor of Marketing NW I sent the following to Seattle’s Mayor and each member of Seattle’s City Council. 

Goal: We must get the 12,000 or more homeless people off the streets and into housing. We must do this now. We must do this to make the streets safe for them and for all of us. We must do this to give those left on the streets an opportunity to get back into the mainstream economy.

Seattle is one of the most prosperous cities in the world. The current prosperity has made housing unaffordable and doesn’t employ everyone.

Amazon, Microsoft and the other giants have provided wonderful new jobs for many people. These are great companies. We’re lucky to have them.

Minimum wage used to be enough to pay for a modest apartment or even a small home. Not anymore.

I grew up in Seattle. My father wrapped packages for Sears in the fifties and sixties. My mother didn’t work. We had a nice home on Beacon Hill.

Step one. Turn every vacant hotel into housing. Get the hotel and real estate giants to manage. Do this now.

Step two. Provide entry level tech training for everyone who doesn’t have a job. Get the tech giants to manage and pay the housing and training costs.

Step three. Make Seattle the city where the world’s tech industry hires the most entry level employees.


  • Barbara Loftus says:

    Turning abandoned hotels into housing now could help to resolve the immediate challenges for housing. As the demand for office space declines with businesses choosing leaner, more cost effective at-home work arrangements, Seattle must plan for a wiser use of both work and affordable living spaces downtown. This includes repurposing former commercial spaces for a housing mix that includes affordable units and units for those in our communities who are without jobs and housing.

    • Ted says:

      Good idea Barbara. Thanks for your comment.

    • Patricia Flowers says:

      I like your solution..however, there are three distinct reasons for living on the street. 1. Unable to afford housing, you address these individuals 2. Those who have addictions which the accessibility of cheap street drugs and who do not want to conform to rules and regulations
      …how do you propose to house them?
      3. The mentally ill…these individuals need trained professionals to somehow get them to want help and treatment????
      I have worked with all three types of individuals as I advocate for their children (CASA… Court Appointed Special Advocate). All three groups need specific help…I wish I knew the answer!
      Good luck!

      • Ted says:

        Thanks Pat, Great to hear from you. And great points. All of which I agree with. I was trying to keep my note short. I have long felt that police should not be expected to deal with street people with mental health or drug problems. It seems like all the police can do is make people move along or put them in jail. Neither are good solutions for people or the police. In a city as prosperous as Seattle we should have qualified professionals to help people. It seems to me, and I’m not an expert, that seeking comfort in drugs and alcohol is logical thing to do if you’ve hit bottom. I’ve had my own bouts with drink to avoid feeling bad.

  • Philip Shaw says:

    I’m glad to see that respected business leaders like yourself are making your voice heard for those who can’t.

    Two points: I agree with Patricia that the link of mental health/treatment is essential. So much so that it IS Step One.

    Second point: Not all mental health or substance abuse is related to “hitting bottom”. That, along with referring to those experiencing homelessness as “street people” is reductive.

    • Ted says:

      Thanks for your comment Philip. I agree that using “street people” as a descriptor is “reductive.” Sadly, reducing complex situations to simplistic solutions happens all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle’s Mayor and Council viewed my suggestion of housing people in empty downtown offices as a bit reductive.

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