In June we wrote about Seattle’s potential plans for addressing the homelessness epidemic. Homelessness and substance abuse share a strong connection for a variety of reasons both simple and complex. Many if not most of Seattle area residents have seen or heard how heroin has become a real epidemic locally. In an effort to address the homelessness problem, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray recently formed a task force to address heroin use. According to the Seattle Times, a majority of task force members support the introduction of a place or places where individuals could use heroin and other drugs in safer environments than “public restrooms, alleys or homeless encampments such as The Jungle.” This progressive and almost surely controversial idea would make Seattle the first U.S. city to do so.
The harm-reduction focused approach aims to reduce overdose deaths and the spread of intravenously transmitted diseases, which in theory would also keep many users alive long enough to seek more help. Ongoing efforts like these highlight the complex relationship between homelessness and drug use, both of which play large roles in the child welfare system.