Denny Heck: We have to build our way out of the homeless crisis
We as a nation, we need to build our way out of the homeless crisis, according to Congressmember Denny Heck.
The argument that more housing of all types is required to solve the nation’s homeless problem is inarguable, Heck, who represents Washington state’s 10th congressional district, says.
“We need housing of all kinds, for all neighbors,” he told Seattle’s Morning News.
Heck’s comments follow the release of a report by the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force, which is made up of 68 Democrats in the House of Representatives who are committed to “pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.” The conclusion from the report states we simply don’t have enough housing units — about 7 million units short.
It’s a problem we know well in King County, where the median price of a single-family home surpassed the record high of approximately $725,000 in May. The area is slightly ahead of the country as a whole; affordability across the U.S. dropped to a decade low recently.
Though there isn’t a nationwide housing market, there is a nationwide housing crisis, Heck says. Being millions of housing units short has caused prices to increase and become out of reach for many, he explains. That locks people into their current living situation. More people become rent burdened. Then more people become publicly subsidized and then homeless.
The country can’t solve the homeless crisis if it doesn’t deal with the housing market as a whole, Heck says.
Mass transit may be part of the solution. Heck points out that the federal government is investing millions in the construction of mass transit through grants to state and local governments. When an agency such as Sound Transit purchases property to build track, there should be efforts to increase housing density in those areas, Heck says. The problem with that, some argue, is the inevitable gentrification of neighborhoods.
“Well, what’s the alternative?” Heck asked, adding that, otherwise, younger generations will never be able to afford homes.
He says transit and housing need to be built for all income levels.
“Housing is a fundamental need of the human race,” he said.