Letters to the Editor

Letter: Homelessness in perspective

Homelessness is a national problem. New York City has an estimated 78,000 homeless people, Los Angeles 56,000. While Anchorage has only 300-1,000 homeless people, the per capita number is among the highest in the country.

Anyone who has traveled in our region of the nation, the Pacific Northwest, will have noticed the skid rows, tent cities and open-air drug markets in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

There is no major metropolitan area anywhere in America that has fully and adequately addressed the problems of their homeless population, in large part because the resources to do so are limited. Municipal funds are drawn from a finite number of working people and these funds are rightly dedicated mostly to serving the needs of those people.Let us acknowledge the above economic realities, and the following: that there is an unprecedented labor shortage in our city and state right now, that those who truly wish to work can find employment, that working folk and their families are the foundation of our community.

And the population of working people differ in their capacity to contribute to the community’s tax base. There are wealthy, middle class, working class, poor and indigent.

Any broad tax applied to everyone is regressive in the sense that it disproportionately affects those that earn the least. This is why a private, charitable approach to paying for the needs of the destitute among us is probably the most appropriate.

In this time of record-high inflation and spiraling costs of living, let those who can afford to give to the homeless do so, invoking the call of Deuteronomy 15:11: “For the poor will never cease to be in the land …”

— Michael Lang


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