It's a well-worn play book.
So, it was inevitable that Nicole Brodeur would take the bait and thus write the cleverly alliterative "Homeless Haven, or Hellhole."
You don't want to go down there. Not even in broad daylight, and certainly not alone.Nice. She even worked in the baby killing thing. Hasn't happened yet, but it could ...
That was the warning I got from some Seattle Parks and Recreation employees the other day. And they were right. On a tour of several homeless encampments Thursday with a group of parks people, I could have been stabbed, raped, infected, or fallen to my death. ...
I went into this with an eye to the plight of the homeless. I've come out knowing that many of them are out there because they choose to be. ...
We saw rats. Mountains of beer cans. Jugs filled with urine. Feces. Tents with doormats and wind chimes. Axes and knives stuck in trees and plastic bags I wouldn't nudge with my steel-toed boot.
Workers have put out fires; walked through tunnels made of mattresses; and handled needles, condoms and more than a few dead bodies.
"No newborns or anything," one parks employee told me. "But that's probably the only thing we haven't found."
I realize that those who live near greenbelts have issues that need action. And I sympathize.
Before I got condoed out of an affordable duplex in the Greenwood area a few years ago, we lived with a crack house across the alley. I'm a guy who thinks homeless people should be breaking into abandoned housing as often as possible. But here was a place where my anti-capitalist sympathies broke down. Prowling the neighborhood for shit to steal and sell for cheap so that you can be a successful crackhead isn't cool. I called the cops every chance I got.
But, this isn't all about that, and the city's actions don't solve the problem. One of the interesting things about the list of sites that the Mayor's office prioritized for clearances is that the majority are not near residential areas. Another was the near complete overlap with the One Night Homeless Count map.
For as long as I can remember, there have been roughly twice as many homeless in Seattle as there are emergency beds. Shelters are often frightening, chaotic places. When our own Dr. Wes Browning was homeless several times, he didn't go to them. With his PTSD, that wasn't an option. He slept out. In greenbelts.
Homeless people in Seattle didn't suddenly become more disease ridden, drug addicted, and dangerous than before. What's changed is this: Seattle, like cities of all sizes most everywhere, is experiencing a boom in downtown living, and all those affluent people who are moving to the urban core to experience the excitement are bringing their suburban comfort zones with them.
Developers have bet heavily that the downtown can be turned into something akin to a suburban shopping mall, but with better food. The Mayor feels their pain. Class war is being waged on the most vulnerable people in our city.
Seattle City government had an opportunity this budget cycle to use part of their large surplus to put $275,000 into funding a homeless outreach program to try and reach the tougher cases. They decided they didn't have the money. Instead they handed about $100 million to Paul Allen in the form of South Lake Union infrastructure money.
So sure. Some homeless people inject heroin. Big news flash for Nicole Brodeur. But you know what? At this point, I think homeless people have more to fear from us than we do from them.