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Inslee Defends Spending $1mil Per Person for Exit From Homelessness

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Crunching the Numbers

Monday afternoon, Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) took a victory lap, taking credit for clearing the Myers Way encampment in West Seattle. However, some of the elderly neighbors at the Arrowhead Apts across the street say it’s too little too late after months of crime, open air drug use, and other issues spilling into the neighborhood. With that said, I was really there to confront Inslee about the rising cost of his Rights of Way Initiative launched in 2022. By the Gov’s own estimates, they have spent around $135 million to close 30 encampments and place 870 people into temporary housing. Without getting too wonky, one of the most important categories on the WA State Dept of Commerce’s website is “successful exits.”

This reflects the number of homeless people in permanent housing and out of temporary situations like tiny house villages. Right now, that number is 126. In other words, the state spends more than $1 million per person to help them exit homelessness. It’s a staggering number. Watch how the Governor responds after I point blank ask him how he can justify this cost. He’s got a pretty strong SPIN game. He is no doubt a grizzled political veteran. I respect that.

By the way, Brandi Kruse (@BrandiKruse) did the breakdown as well using the current numbers on Commerce’s website. I hope other media members start scrutinizing these numbers. *Just to be clear, the state’s already allocated more than $143 million bucks to the Rights of Way initiative. Kruse’s per person “successful exits” breakdown is based off this number. According to the Gov’s estimates, there’s roughly $8 million left in the bank. Problem is, there are still more than 2K encampments on state right of ways. That’s why he’s planning on going to the the WA State Legislature for more money. But will he get it?

Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy. Choe has more than two decades of experience in television news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entrepreneurship to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago. As an independent journalist, Choe also contributes regularly to the Mill Creek View and Lynnwood Times and has reported on exclusive stories in the past year for Daily Wire and The Postmillennial.