[Hpn] "Homeless Can Not Wait Ten Years"

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Wed, 31 Aug 2005 07:57:42 -0400


Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Irons offers plan for homeless

King County candidate says Sims-backed proposal would take too long



SEATAC -- Republican David Irons outlined his vision for addressing 
homelessness Tuesday, venturing into what might seem an area of strength for 
his political opponent, Democratic King County Executive Ron Sims.

"I firmly believe our community wants to address homelessness -- and wants 
to address it sooner rather than later," Irons said at a news conference.

Irons said his proposal, which emphasizes coordinated social services to 
lead the homeless to self-sufficiency instead of simply building housing, 
will work better, faster and more efficiently than the 10-year plan backed 
by Sims. "The homeless can't wait 10 years," Irons said.

Irons, a county councilman from Sammamish, is seeking to unseat Sims in 

Sims is co-chairman of the governing board of the Committee to End 
Homelessness in King County, an organization that grew out of a 2000 forum 
on homelessness sponsored by St. Mark's Cathedral. Over the next five years, 
the committee, comprising representatives of government agencies and social 
service organizations, studied the issue before producing its 10-year plan 
in March.

Sims has declared the effort a priority of his administration and has 
presented his strategy for carrying it out at the county government level to 
the County Council. Although the plan calls for building 9,500 affordable 
housing units, "It's more than just providing a roof over someone's head," a 
Sims spokesman said.

Irons sought to contrast his proposal with the 10-year plan. "Just 
addressing housing will not address the problem," he said.

His approach, which he did not spell out in great detail, stresses 
cooperation among government and social-service agencies to tackle the root 
causes of homelessness and equip the homeless with the skills they need to 
successfully enter the housing market. The county executive could provide 
leadership, he said.

In response to questioning, he said tools might include government-financed 
vouchers distributed by community agencies to homeless people, who could use 
them to supplement their own resources in renting apartments.

Irons did not put a price to his proposal, but he suggested it could be paid 
for by diverting money from the 10-year plan, the cost of which has been 
pegged at up to $1 billion.

Sims' co-chairman on the governing committee, Car Toys CEO Dan Brettler, 
said he welcomed discussion of the issue, but he added, "I am not convinced 
that having a potential competition of plans is a healthy thing.

"We feel like we have a very-high-quality blueprint for ending homelessness, 
and we feel it is a daunting task that will take 10 years."

Much of what Irons proposes is consistent with the 10-year plan, Brettler 

Irons acknowledged that his ideas were not completely original, citing as 
one inspiration the cooperative model for reducing homelessness adopted in 

"We didn't go out and build new wheels," he said.

P-I reporter Gregory Roberts can be reached at 206-448-8022 or 

William Charles Tinker

New Hampshire Homeless  / Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640  USA
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.