The High Costs of Living in Seattle and the Homeless Problem


Mimi Gaudiano

SEATTLE = MONEY: Seattle has become extremely expensive to live in the recent years, forcing lots of sacrifice and even causing some to go homeless.

Leo Fukano, Staff Writer

It is time to face it. The cost of living is getting expensive. Many people in the United States already know that San Francisco and New York are the most expensive cities to live in. Seattle, on the other hand, is not the most expensive city in the country, but the costs of living there is rising quickly. Many are feeling this pressure continue to build up over time. This is a combination of a large number of people that have been drawn to move to Seattle and the sudden implementation of technological wealth. As a result, some people are forced to leave Seattle to keep themselves financially stable. With Seattle’s cost of living growing rapidly, there also is the homeless problem that seems to be steadily increasing with no end in sight. Local homeless shelters are running out of room and others are closing down. This forces some people to literally camp on the side of highways, giving tourists and many others a rather tainted image of the city.
Seattle is currently not the most expensive city in the United States. However, it tops all of the cities in terms of the rate that the living cost is increasing by. According to the Seattle Times, “Ever since 2012, Seattle has registered the biggest increase on the Cost of Living Index among more than 200 cities included.” This is actually quite startling to see. This means that if the rate of increase stays the same, Seattle will soon be at the top of the Cost of Living Index. Most people are hoping that rate of increase will begin to level off from its steep positive slope. Freshman Seth Anderson says, “I think it probably will [level off] because it has to at some point. It is either going to become too populated, or people are going to stop moving here.” Other people want the level off, but think that is just not realistic for the time being. Senior Huanyuan Zheng says, “It is still going to go up over time because people are going to keep coming into Seattle. At least for five years. I believe at some point it will become flatter, but it’s going to be a really long time.” It is nearly impossible to prevent Seattle’s population from increasing. The more people that are in a city, the more expensive living is going to get.

Technological wealth is a major culprit in the high cost of living for the people in Seattle. Thriving companies like Amazon that have headquarters in Seattle only add to the chaos. According to the Seattle Times, technological wealth has “exacerbated inequalities, pushing people out of the city or even into homelessness. Rapid growth has taxed the infrastructure and the debate over where to house all these new people has divided the city.” Tech wealth is not completely bad, but the problem is the quick price jump that arises from this, which can be very difficult for some to manage. Other people believe that there are different causes to the rapid increase in living expenses. Junior Alicia Miglia says, “It is because there are more and more people that are living in Seattle. There also are the new buildings that are being built which add to that.” Seattle has had quite the population growth. According to the United States Census Bureau, Seattle was ranked sixth on the top 15 cities with the largest numeric increase in population between 2016 and 2017. Seattle had a whopping increase of 17,490 in its population. More people will require more resources to keep the city running, and those resources add to the equation of the cost of living. With a similar viewpoint sophomore Aleksander Lakely says, “More people are living there now, and there is an increased demand for homes. People are getting jobs and wanting to stay there.” Additionally, the high housing costs can be directly related to the large amount of people that move to Seattle every year.
High increases in living costs are not the only issue with Seattle, there is also an on going and growing homeless problem. The increasing cost to live in the city is directly related to this outbreak. Some lower income people just cannot afford to move out of the city and are stuck in the chaos until they go homeless. Others cannot find housing with a minimum wage job. Nowadays, it is literally at the point where there are homeless camping on the side greenways of the highways near Seattle. According to the 2018 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR), Seattle has the third highest homeless population in a major U.S. city. The report establishes that an estimated 12,112 people in Seattle are currently experiencing homelessness. This number will only continue to go up as the year of 2019 goes by. The current solutions like homeless shelters that are currently available just cannot accommodate the sheer amount of people that need it. In response to the finding solutions for the homeless, Zheng says, “I think there is a solution, but it is really hard to reduce the homeless people because it is difficult to control them if they do not want to move from where they are.” On the other hand, Lakely says, “I think they are a little helpless. It’s pretty hard to get a job in Seattle. You need an education to get a job.” Some people are divided on this controversial topic. This division only adds to the difficulty in finding a good compromise and solution to the problem.

Seattle is a city of great success. It has obtained lots of wealth through technology, and is home to some of the largest corporations such as Amazon. However, Seattle has some darker secrets that foreigners and newcomers will not realize until it is too late, like its skyrocketing premium price and the increasingly difficult homeless problem. Sadly, it is quite difficult to stop the increase in the cost of living and the homeless population. Those two factors will always continue to increase. However, there are ways to reduce the rate at which both increase, such as the lowering of the housing market due to decrease in the growing population, and the increase in programs for the homeless. Once those imperfections are taken care of, Seattle can become two steps closer to becoming a better city.