Tag Archives: Homelessness Crisis

OPINION | King County’s Lack of Outreach on CID/SoDo Shelter Complex Is Systemic Racism

by Tanya Woo


Residents and business owners of the Chinatown-International District (CID) are just now hearing about a $66.5 million, 6.8-acre project to expand and enhance a shelter that will house over 500 people with support for 50 RVs and a 50-home tiny house village. It was approved by the King County Council in partnership with Seattle and the King County Regional Homeless Authority. For a complex that opens this fall, these decisions were made without any meaningful community outreach or engagement. This follows a long history of policies that have been forced on the CID with no engagement or outreach. This is systemic racism.

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OPINION | Everyone Wants Less Homelessness. Social Housing Offers a Viable Solution.

by Gennette Cordova


We all want less homelessness.

Some people believe that housing should be a basic human right. Others prefer that poverty in their city be out of their line of vision. Counter to narratives centered around addiction and mental illness often spun by The Seattle Times’ editorial board, the newspaper recently acknowledged that the cause of our city’s rampant homelessness is a lack of affordable housing. Rather than debating the morality of reasons rooted in compassion, the shamefulness of reasons based on aesthetics, or the virtue of rationale landing somewhere in between, we can build solutions based on the understanding that tackling homelessness will require us to do something about Seattle’s skyrocketing housing costs. 

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OPINION: When It Comes to the Unhoused, We Speak With Compassion but Act Without Empathy

by Marcus Harrison Green


(This article is co-published with The Seattle Times.)


At times, our city’s most astounding feat is being well-versed in the language of compassion, without any fluency in the exercise of empathy. 

A perfect illustration was the cruel contrast I witnessed visiting the corner of 4th Avenue and Cherry Street in late February, just days before Seattle’s eviction moratorium expired. 

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Surprise Sweep Displaces Encampment, Scattering Unsheltered People Throughout Downtown

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


A three-week standoff between mutual-aid volunteers and the City of Seattle over a row of tents across the street from City Hall ended abruptly this morning, March 9, in a surprise sweep spearheaded by police and the Seattle parks department, who cordoned off Third and Fourth Avenues between Cherry and Washington Streets and began ordering people out of their tents at 8:00 am. (The parks department posted removal signs at 6:00 a.m., giving anyone who happened to be awake just two hours to pack up and get out.)

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Pallet, a For-Profit Provider of Utilitarian Shelters, Could Be a Contender for County Funding

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Over the past two years, a broad consensus emerged that non-congregate shelter — hotel rooms, tiny houses, and other kinds of physically separated spaces — was both healthier and more humane than the typical pre-pandemic congregate shelter setup, in which dozens of people sleep inches apart on cots or on the ground. When people are offered a choice between semi-congregate shelter and more private spaces, they’re far more likely to “accept” a hotel room or tiny house, and once there, they’re more likely to find housing than they would in traditional congregate shelters.

In January, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) issued a request for proposals for almost $5 million to fund new non-congregate shelter spaces. (An RFP is a preliminary step in the process of selecting and funding nonprofit service providers.) The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), which operates a dozen tiny house villages in and around Seattle, applied, as did Seattle’s JustCARE program, which offers hotel-based shelter and case management to people with complex behavioral health challenges and criminal justice involvement.

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Councilmember’s Homelessness Plan Could Include 10 New Mass Encampment Sites

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared in PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


As part of an effort to substantially reduce the number of unsheltered people living in downtown Seattle before summer, Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis is working on a plan to relocate as many as 600 people into sanctioned encampments around the city, potentially including South Seattle. 

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OPINION: Seattle Doesn’t Have a ‘Trash’ Problem, It Has an Equity Problem

by Elizabeth Kirk


When Mayor Harrell campaigned on “cleaning up the city” — I hope that he didn’t mean sweeping people and problems under the rug. 

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OPINION: Homelessness, Poverty, and the City Budget

by Jay Sygiel, Isaac Litwak, and Sawyer Hanners


Walking down the streets of Seattle, tents, tarps, and sleeping bags have become a familiar sight. The state of homelessness in our city can only be described as a human services emergency. To solve this dilemma, we must look at where it stems from. The primary cause of homelessness can be boiled down to two things: the cost of living and the income gap that plagues the city.

In recent years, 77,300 Seattleites (5,000 more than the seating capacity of Lumen Field) reside below the poverty rate. Of these people, more than 11,000 of them are homeless and half of those are unsheltered. But this statistic is not representative of the amount of people not having their needs met due to low/unstable incomes. The national poverty line is set much lower than what is considered livable in Seattle. For one person to live comfortably here, you must make around $72,092, which is over five times the national poverty line.

Over the past six years, rents in Seattle have increased 57% while the average salary has not scaled to compensate for that increase. Thus, the income gap is only getting larger, leaving the people of Seattle in the dust.

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Love, Mutual Aid, and Humanity at ChuMinh Tofu

by Johnny Fikru and Johnny Mao


It is no accident that ChuMinh Tofu still stands tall in a spot that other businesses have long since vacated. 

To date, Thanh-Nga “Tanya” Nguyễn and her staff have held down the spot on South Jackson Street for 10 years. Tanya’s journey to ChuMinh has involved a myriad of pathways. Medical school in Vietnam, biochemistry, a mindfulness in Buddhism, a passion for tofu, and a culture of caring — all manifest into the language of love present at ChuMinh to this day: food and mutual aid.

“I met Tanya years ago — I would come to ChuMinh Tofu and buy meals for community meetings. In the era I was raised in, banh mi was part of the diet at community meetings,” said organizer Johnny Fikru. “As I walked inside trying to determine what I wanted to eat, I was struck by the warm presence of Tanya. Anyone that’s ever been lucky enough to feel that energy knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s an inviting and warm presence. It’s authentic. It’s caring. It is peaceful. I was welcomed in a way that I haven’t felt at a restaurant, and it felt so great.” 

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Judge Strikes Homelessness Charter Amendment from Ballot

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Late Friday afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Christine Shaffer struck Charter Amendment 29 (CA 29), the “Compassion Seattle” homelessness initiative, from the November ballot, agreeing with opponents of the measure that it went beyond the scope of the initiative process. Specifically, Chambers said, the amendment attempted to overrule the City of Seattle’s authority to determine its own homelessness and land-use policies — authority granted to local jurisdictions by the State Legislature that cannot, she said, be overturned by an initiative at the local level.

The amendment, if adopted, would require the City Council to spend a minimum of 12% of its general fund revenues on homelessness, dictating further that in the first year, that money would have to pay for 2,000 new units of “emergency housing” (shelter). It would also change local land use and zoning laws by requiring the City to waive code requirements, regulations, and fees to “urgently site” the projects it would mandate.

The groups that sued to remove the proposal from the ballot, including the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness and the ACLU of Washington, argued that the voters of Seattle lack the authority to overturn these sort of legislative decisions and that the amendment would effectively undo the agreement the City and County made to create the new King County Regional Homelessness Authority. Judge Shaffer agreed.

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