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Seattle’s Homelessness Is a 'Public Health Disaster,' and the Solutions are Nuts

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Big cities have always had to deal with large homeless populations, but Seattle is not making it easy for themselves.

On Monday, the Seattle Times reported that healthcare providers in the city are trying to get the King County Board of Health to recognize the homelessness issue as a “public health disaster” via petition.

Seattle and King County both declared a state of emergency for homelessness about two and a half years ago, and the problem has only gotten worse. The homeless population has risen from 10,047 in 2015 to 12,112 so far in 2018.

The Seattle City Council has offered some particularly awful solutions to try and combat this.

Earlier this year, the city council voted 9-0 to approve an “employee head tax” which basically charged corporations in the area that gross at least $20 million annually $275 per employee.

This was meant to target companies like Amazon which is headquartered in Seattle.  Amazon has about 563,100 employees in Seattle; so they would be taxed approximately $154.8 million.

Starbucks, which is also headquartered in Seattle criticized the tax, saying, "This City continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside.”

Grocery stores were among the biggest opponents to the employee head tax because they employ a lot of people, but the revenue coming in is one of the slimmest margins for profit despite their significant revenue.

The tax ultimately did not go into action, but the city has endorsed other bizarre homeless-related issues.

The homeless population in Seattle is highly susceptible to drug overdose. In response, the city decided to create “safe injections sites” where "observed consumption of illicit drugs occurs under the supervision of a healthcare worker," but none have opened yet.

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