CR Douglas' City Inside/Out episode on homelessness this week is worth seeing. We did a Lower Queen Anne greenbelt Parks Department tour that he uses as the set-up for a panel interview with Human Services press flak Patricia McInturff, Operation Nightwatch Director Rev. Rick Reynolds, and Committee to End Homelessness in King County honcho Bill Block. McInturff artfully ducks Douglas' pointed questioning on shelter capacity and does her level best to make City policy look reasonable. Reynolds, in his diplomatic way, doesn't buy it. Block gets defensive about Ten Year Plan success, delivers his Housing First rap, and, as always, has nothing to say on the encampment clearance issue. A lot of average people on the street seem mostly critical of how homelessness is being handled. I seem pissed off ("I think the city needs to have a policy that actually helps people instead of deepening their misery.") and sleep deprived, which is about right. I'm also fighting a cold. If you look at the KOMO interview I did in my office later that day, my voice is a good octave lower than normal. I kind of growl. When I apologized to the anchor later she said, "I've never met you, so I thought that was just how you talk."
As CR and I strolled through the greenbelt with the parks crew, we saw around a dozen structures that varied widely in terms of overall squalor. There were a few patches of appalling mountains of trash (mostly empty tobacco pouches and beer cans), and other spots where camp sites were clean and had thoughtful divisions of function. We ran into around three actual campers. The one who had the most to say is on film talking to CR through the wall of his tent.
This is the same tour that Nicole Brodeur got a few months ago, and then Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times, just prior to their first hateful editorial in favor of the Mayor's policy. I've spoken to a City Councilor who did the tour as well. Patricia mumbles something about the trash still being there because of difficult logistics or something. That's bullshit. It's a museum piece. They've preserved the most trash heaped camp in the City to show off to the press as representative, and they've even let people keep living there. Even as CR sees through this, he still can't resist the dramatic footage. That's why it works.