An estimated 500 chronic drunks haunt downtown Seattle streets and parks every day. Mostly older men, they panhandle on Pine Street, act belligerent in Belltown and pass out in Pioneer Square. They tax police, courts and emergency services.
Banking on an unconventional approach, the city, county, state and federal governments are spending $8.7 million to build permanent housing for 75 of them â€” a four-story apartment building on the northeastern fringe of downtown.
The project has two goals: remove homeless drunks from downtown park benches and cajole them toward treatment.
But a lure is needed to get them there. So the apartment will allow tenants to drink inside their rooms. They also will be allowed to invite a limited number of guests to join them.
$116,000 per drunk to put 'em into a house where they can keep drinking. For that kind of money, you could buy every one of 'em a house outside of Seattle and pay for their groceries for a couple of years to boot.
Not that Seattle is the only place for such tomfoolery. During my last visit to San Jose, I read that Oakland was building "affordable housing" at about $450,000 per unit.
(note to gov't types out there; if it costs more than an average house, it ain't "affordable housing")