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Political will may be even harder to muster in the future. Today’s young people, like the students in the course Hobson teaches at Seattle U on the politics of homelessness, “have never known a time when homelessness wasn't a problem,” he says. They will grow up desensitized, wrongly believing homelessness to be “a part of the urban landscape that’s always there and always will be.”
Nonetheless Hobson, who plans to retire in June 2015 after more than a quarter-century leading DESC, feels pride in his town. “The good people of this city vote to increase their property taxes to create housing for poor people. I do not see this happening elsewhere.”
Hobson was raised to believe that “those who have, have a duty to assist those who don’t. Many of the people on the street don't look like innocents, but they are! Homeless youth, children of homeless parents, mentally ill people – they didn't create their situation. It was forced on them, and we have an obligation to help them.”
And there are unexpected upsides to helping. “If the guys sleeping under the bench of the firefighter memorial had a home,” Hobson says wryly, “the firefighters would not, presumably, be on administrative leave under threat of indictment by the county prosecutor.”
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