There is an article
up at The Olympian website about a survey that was done last fall (why so long to publish, by the way?). The survey asked a series of questions about how people felt about downtown Olympia. Note the following passage:
When asked what they liked least about downtown, the largest number of those responding, 44 percent, cited the homeless, panhandling, and antisocial behavior by teens and young adults. That far exceeded the second biggest concern -- parking -- which was cited by 19 percent.
Even so, 62 percent of the people responding said they felt safe downtown, although some avoid areas where street people and the homeless hang out.
Nearly a quarter of those responding said they almost never go downtown.
Of those, 60 percent said they don't visit because of panhandlers and homeless people, rude behavior and people who sprawl on the sidewalks and prevent others from passing.
Now, to my ear, the implication is that homelessness is a problem-- but mostly a problem for people other than the homeless themselves. Read it
and let me know if you get the same sense.