Perhaps you'd be so good as to explain what is "Orwellian" about Compassion Seattle. You may or may not think it is the right approach, but it's got nothing to do with totalitarianism. It might be Dickensian (I personally think that requiring the City to provide housing is far more humane than Oliver Twist's workhouse), but not Orwellian.


@1 Actually Dickensian would be an improvement from the filthy park encampments which seem to be our council President’s preferred solution.


Give more money to LIHI, they’ll soon fix the probahahahahahahaha!


“We wanted to show that there are other alternatives to sweeping,” said Mike Mathias

Yeah, there is an alternative, let the encampment stay where it is. Did he or anyone on the school board think that getting people an ID and signing them up for Medicare would somehow clear the encampment? Just offering housing hasn't ever worked either, a small fraction of people will accept it. So, if the vague talks with LIHI about setting up a tiny house village on some undetermined site somehow becomes reality, it won't clear out the encampment either.

The only way encampments have been cleared out in Seattle is through sweeps. If the school board is unwilling to sweep the encampment, they should at least be honest that they are planning to let it stay.


As people have cycled out of the Bitter Lake encampment, others move in. As long as it stays relatively clean and campers move up the ladder to other options, it could become a magnet camp for those inclined to improvement. As long as the two coordinators remain effective and the camp doesn't stagnate into squalor, it can be an uncomfortable detente. Any campers fuck up enough to involve the cops should get the full Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substance Act treatment regarding school zones. Doing dope under the Sword of Damocles doesn't sound like a swell time unless there is hope for situational improvement. But who am I kidding about consequences these days.

Getting people housed and keeping them housed for the first year has a far better success rate than AA has keeping people in their program for a year, two thirds to one quarter respectively.


Such "teaching moments" lay the groundwork for crimes of opportunity.


Sweep away. Sweep until the broom wears down to the nub.


BUT WAIT. Compassion Seattle isn’t dead, it is appealing the ruling! Even so, this is not City property, so the schools are stuck with it so long as the Govern-By-Tweet President is at the helm. The stories are kinda related, but each deserve their own write up.


@1 Except Compassion Seattle doesn’t provide housing.
@4 You need a WA ID to do lots of things including get a job and get into most housing. Please back up your strange claim that most people don’t accept housing as well since most do; it’s possible you’re thinking of old school congregate shelter including places that separate couples or don’t accept pets.

And just because something has only worked ONE way that’s ever been tried before (sweeping) doesn’t mean nothing else can be successful.
@5 People have moved in - past tense. And have stopped.

@9 Sweep to where? Your neighborhood? Mine? Where? It’s not like they just go away…they’re people, not dust.


I disagree with Compassion Seattle because I think it "is" unconstitutional and I think people should have a right to camp on public property (given they're not littering or harming others - and violations are treated on an individual basis).

Here, however, I have questions and concerns because district/school property really belongs to the students and teachers. And ... they're returning to classrooms in the middle of a pandemic which means .. they really need more outdoor learning spaces because the buildings are insufficiently ventilated for the delta variant.

If this can be turned into a positive learning situation, that's great. But I have the impression from (granted, Komo News) parents and teachers are generally opposed - and they're very concerned about the children.

If I walked around there and had a better sense of the area and in relation to the school, I might have a better idea of where I'd fall in on this end of the debate.

In general, I support camping rights. Here, I'm skeptical. I tend to think they should find them another area to camp - in a public park or on public property, and help them go there instead until things can be straightened out further. And then, they should better adapt the property to the needs of the incoming year. For example, if the district and school haven't been using this area to begin with, and aren't planning to (ITO the pandemic), then maybe they should be allowed to stay.

But the children and the teachers should come first in this situation. If the students are "uncomfortable" to begin with (the article says the fence had to be built to make them feel comfortable??) -- doesn't that tell you something right there? This is THEIR area - the adults who should be responsible about housing are disgracefully washing their hands of responsibility by giving away what belongs to children. And when it's not theirs to give away.

I don't put this responsibility on the volunteers trying to help them find housing. It's more about the City putting it on the District, is what it sounds like. But again, I think you'd have to go down there and walk around to get a sense of what it's about.


@12 For example, too, something I heard a parent reportedly saying at a meeting to the deputy superintendent, I think it was .. "What about at your child's school property?" And he's over there saying he doesn't want to move the encampment because he doesn't want this to go to another neighborhood? And what is this neighborhood? It sounds like it's more of a working class neighborhood -- so the deputy super is basically admitting that he's protecting more privileged neighborhoods from this "experience?" And he's making these decisions under the argued theories of solving homelessness? This is not the district's responsibility. The district's responsibility or priorities are to the children. The city or county responsibility is to the homeless population. And they should be providing another area for the group to camp out, and while they're sorting out their various housing issues and needs.

Again, I'm open based on this article, but I am somewhat skeptical.


"That’s at least a somewhat compassionate approach to what will likely be a vivid teaching moment for students as they return to classrooms this week."

it's just

(has anyone seen
my Bootstraps?)


@14: Would you know how to use them?


"Real compassion requires action, and the voters want actions that will truly make a difference," said Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness executive director Alison Eisinger

someone please remind her of this quote annually as I am sure that as each year passes no meaningful action will occur and the problem will continue to grow just as it has for the past decade.

@11 most people are not accepting offers for shelter, people are still refusing offers for shelter in large numbers. ST had a big write-up with all sorts of numbers and facts a week or two ago. Even with all the enhanced shelters, hotel rooms, tiny homes...people are refusing offers to go. And the rate of moving those who do accept shelter on to bigger and better is still middling at about 50%. There is even a significant portion of people who accept shelter referrals and then do not show up for whatever reason. You can look up the story yourself as I have hit the paywall.


@16: Key parts of that story:

"Reluctance to go to crowded shelters is just one of many reasons people turn down the offer. Some people have been turned away by bad experiences and broken promises. Others have specific circumstances — addiction, immigration status, or families and pets — that shelters can’t accommodate."

Each one illustrates how the options available during Seattle’s homeless encampment enforcement can lack the flexibility and security to support a large proportion of the homeless people in the city, prompting them to stay outside.

This year, only 5% of referrals were to so-called basic shelters, the crowded open-room facilities that experience the most turnover and are often the option offered to people on short notice.

Jordan has carried a suspicion of homeless shelters in Seattle since 2008, when he claims a staff member at one stole his wallet. He’s wary of the Navigation Center, where he was offered a spot in July. It’s one of the few shelters that accepts drug users who would otherwise be on the street, but that can dissuade other people offered spots there. Jordan doesn’t want to live around drug use. Alicia Wade, a friend of Jordan’s who lives in her car near the encampment, agreed.

“The Navigation Center enables me,” Wade said. “If I’m around addicts, and I want to be clean, I’m going to relapse.”

There’s another reason Jordan refused referral to a homeless shelter. When he was forced to leave the I-90 encampment, he moved with several of the other people staying there. They’ve lived together for years, they said, and none of them wanted to take separate referrals to shelter spaces across the city. Jordan’s neighbor, Lisa, suffers from schizophrenia, and Jordan buys her food and clothes.

“We’re like a family,” he said. “We depend on each other.”

Yvonne Nelson, the outreach worker who offered Jordan and his friends shelter, doesn’t blame them for their reluctance. Sometimes all Nelson can do is offer whatever shelter space happens to be available on the day. The abrupt timeline of the I-90 encampment clearing, which was announced only two days beforehand, didn’t give her the time to find accommodations that better fit the encampment’s needs."

“If I build relationships with those folks, [I can] get to know them a little more intimately and find out what it is that they actually want,” Nelson said. “Coming down a day or two before they’re supposed to move and offering them shelter is just, it’s cruel.”

That might sound strange when the alternative is staying on the streets. But for many homeless people that Nelson has worked with, taking the first spot available in a group shelter can be dangerous and traumatizing. Mitch Mitchell, an outreach worker with the Hepatitis Education Project, said basic shelters are especially dangerous for women and LGBTQ people."

Under these circumstances, I wouldn't go to a shelter either, but I know from experience a good percentage of those who post here will continue to believe we are offering them the equivalent of all inclusive trips to club med, but despite that they simply choose to be homeless.


@1: The Orwellian reference obviously involves the double speak. Calling themselves "Compassion Seattle" while only offering cruel prescriptions for the existing problem is classic double speak.

It's right up there with people who claim they have compassion for the homeless and that's why we need homeless sweeps, or claim we need to reform the police by giving them yet more money to do nothing.

To your credit, you're consistent. You acknowledge you don't care about the homeless, don't think the police need to be reformed and think everything can be fixed through sweeps and more incarceration of lifestyle crimes. Your proposals are logically consistent given your views, even if I disagree with them.


@17: Another key part of the ST Article:

"The city of Seattle has seen much more success referring people to shelters that offer private space to individuals, like motel rooms and tiny houses. Over 90% of the referrals made by city outreach services in 2021, when enrollment rates were at their highest, were to these “enhanced” shelters and tiny house villages. Both options are open 24/7 and offer help connecting to social services. People stay longer, too. The average length of stay at enhanced shelters and tiny houses in 2020 was 102 and 349 days, respectively, compared to 68 days at basic shelters."


Re: @17: "Coming down a day or two before they’re supposed to move and offering them shelter is just, it’s cruel.”

Let's talk about what cruel is. Cruel is dropping boulders on cars, starting fires, spewing garbage and waste, tearing up trees, dumping waste in lakes, stealing property, harassing people, not to mention raping and killing.

Far crueler than the courtesy one star accommodations provided by taxpayers.


@18 - You're putting a lot of words in my mouth that I never said. For starters, when the fuck did I say we didn't need to reform the police? We do. But I have said (and still believe it) that screaming "defund" was a goddamned dumb idea that cost us electorally. When most of America hears "defund," they think "anarchy." That is not helpful. If you don't accept anything short of completely defunding & abolishing is enough, you are displaying a sophomoric degree of black and white thinking. I hope people learned something from 2020 and will stop screaming "defund" next time.

And my view that the City of Seattle shouldn't (and can't, as a practical matter) be responsible for housing every homeless person in the county in no way means that I don't care about them. It means that so long as we let the rest of the county/state refuse to step up, we're going to face a bigger and bigger problem that will never be solved. I pay the homeless taxes here and don't bitch about it. I would like to see our zoning laws fixed. We need to build more housing, some of it public. But so does every other fucking city. There's a lot of things that can be done, but we need help. Want to get mad at someone? Go talk to the good people of Redmond and Mercer Island, who are practically shoving their homeless onto the Seattle-bound bus at gunpoint.

And I don't agree with incarceration for lifestyle crimes. Do your drug of choice, sell your ass on Craigslist, whatever. I really don't care. But breaking into my house, car prowling, or stealing from businesses are not lifestyle crimes. They're fucking crimes. And they create dangerous situations for the victims. Should the woman who was shot in the robbery in Greenlake yesterday be tolerant and forgiving of the "lifestyle crime" she experienced? I don't give a fuck if you want to do your drug of choice. But don't expect me to be tolerant when you are ripping me off to buy it.


@21: Mistake on my part. While typing a response I forgot I was responding to you and started responding to Toby @2.

Still, enjoyed the tirade. Don't ever change.

While I have you, are you the one who pretended you were once a defense attorney, or am I confusing you with someone else here?


@20: Take it up with the homeless, or the Seattle Times who I quoted here.

I'm mostly ignoring your predictable response here, but I see you mentioned "dropping boulders on cars." I haven't heard any follow up on that. Did anyone ever establish the rock dropping was connected with the homeless, or is this just another example of you making shit up out of whole clothe to support your narrative?


@24: Yep, was indeed connected to a homeless man in an encampment by I90:

Read it and weep.


@23, The encampment was removed and people stopped having rocks dropped on their cars. I guess you could argue that this doesn't prove that those in the encampment were the ones throwing rocks at cars, but it is some pretty good evidence that removing the homeless encampment is an effective way to stop these attacks on cars... because that's what happened.

I was never arguing that there was something wrong with the homeless for not accepting offers of shelter, I was saying the school board's actions don't match their words here. They are saying they want to remove the encampment but have made it clear they don't want to sweep the encampment, which is the only way encampments get cleared in Seattle. Of course, maybe @11 is right here and there is some magical way that nobody has come across where you can say "pretty please with sugar" and cross you fingers and get the homeless to move by asking them, but if the school board has such a strategy, they should have implemented it by the beginning of the school year. So far, outreach workers have tried all of the obvious stuff and it hasn't worked. Nothing wrong with getting their IDs updated, but it's not going to clear the encampment.

I'm not really advocating sweeps in general, but I would say that homeless encampments shouldn't be allowed on school property, Schools should exist for the best interest of the kids, this shouldn't be controversial at all. The kids wellbeing is more important than the progressive values of the school board members or the homeless that have set up camp. If they were in a park or Starbucks, the case would be different, but they're on school property. The school board is failing in their duty to safeguard kids because they don't want to remove the homeless encampment and should have this pointed out to them repeatedly. This encampment has already caused a couple of lockdowns at the school, it shouldn't take some tragic event to get the school board to act, but it probably will.


I don't know what's compassionate about turning Seattle into a crime-infested, tent-city shithole, which is what's happening. See if you can hold these two conflicting ideas in your head at once: Homeless people deserve compassion. But so do the rest of us who have to walk around human feces, deal with persistent theft and panhandling, and who can't look at their city without wanting to throw up.


@25: I don't think I responded to anything you wrote here, but none of us want the homeless living on the street. My argument against sweeps is simply that they don't work, make things harder for the homeless since the relocation often results in them losing things like IDs and destroy any trust the homeless have with law enforcement, or the institution there to help them.

Sweeps don't make the problem go away and don't reduce the number of homeless. It simply forces them to relocate on a constant basis. People are frustrated and in a classic case of "so you can't cure homelessness? Then who are you to tell me to stop throwing virgins into the volcano to end homelessness" people continue this useless policy. We have been doing sweeps for years and the homeless population has not decreased with no homeless people saying they found housing to avoid sweeps. It's like religion. People are frustrated and support sweeps on faith with no sign that it makes a damn bit of difference while making other things worse.

If you live in a dangerous environment outside the law as the homeless do, humans will self organize to reduce harm. Spooner called in Mutual Aid and wrote a pamphlet on it. Violence is orders of magnitude higher when you are homeless, so living and staying in tribes is not simply a luxury, but a necessity. That is why they are reluctant to be broken up. In that environment they depend on community. Since things aren't any safer in much of the free housing we offer that's not a bog help. Even one of the workers in the article stated she doesn't blame them for not wanted to accept much of the housing the city provides. What does that tell you?

What the Seattle Times article makes clear is that for housing to work, we need to offer them something better than living on the street. That means the ability to maintain their community, privacy, and safety. It's basically the same thing all of us who can afford housing want as well. None of us would pay for housing if it meant living in an open space with other people, endless rules that are difficult to meet, constant theft and violence and cut off from the community that keeps us safe. That is essentially what incarceration looks like and no one is running to sign up for that. Why we think it's strange that when we offer that model to the homeless as an option and they choose the street shows just how out of touch we are with what we value in housing ourselves.

The article makes clear they aren't asking for Club Med. They agree that if they could have a private space that is safe, connected to their community without endless rules around things like sobriety and when they can come and go they would sign up for housing. Hotels and small home communities seem to offer that, which is where we should place all our emphasis.

Or, we can keep pretending like forcing them to relocate through sweeps until they accept the prison like accommodations we offer them will magically solving the problem.

That's what we have been doing up until now. To quote Dr. Phil, how's the working for ya?


@26: See if you can hold these two conflicting ideas in your head at once. No one wants homelessness and all the problems it creates. but things like street sweeps do nothing to address homelessness. It's just a more expensive way to not address homelessness.

Do you have an actual proposal, or are just hear to whine about how you don't like homelessness? If the latter, you would be hard pressed to find a side that supports homelessness, so I'm not sure who you imagine your debating here.


@27: Sweeps keep homeless encampments temporary, and by doing so are the necessary catalysts for change to get the homeless to accept better options and, perhaps most important of all, sweeps alleviate the ramifications to the environment and neighborhood and allow things to heal.


@29: Making homelessness someone else's problem through constant street sweeps accomplishes nothing and we have tried this "necessary catalyst" model you argue for and it has failed. Streets sweeps don't reduce homelessness and do nothing to push people into "better options" your tough love fantasies not withstanding.

Like the war on drugs, how many times do you need to see that "tough love necessary catalyst" argument fail before you learn it does not work?

If you want to decrease the impact of homelessness on neighborhoods you need the opposite approach to street sweeps. You want to maintain the homeless in fixed locations so you can provide showers, toilets and other basics so they don't create all the environmental problems you associate with homelessness that results from moving on a regular basis with little access to basic infrastructure.

I have seen parts of Oregon move towards this model of designated encampment sites with basic services provided and it's a big improvement over non-designated camp areas followed by sweeps, especially to the environment and the neighborhoods you claim to care about.


Letting homeless camps remain permanent is not an option in a civilized society.


@31: Homelessness itself is not an option in a civilized society, so you are placing the cart before the horse.

Homelessness is where we are. I prefer ending homelessness, but we lack the political will and your endless sweeps does nothing to move us towards more people in housing, or a safer society.

"Frustration" + "do something" is not a credible proposal. All the evidence shows that street sweeps do nothing to reduce homelessness. You need to start asking if your proposed solution is a proven failure, what's your own motivation?


@32: You know, it's hard to not let your mindset guilt trip the novice in this area. After all, you are ingratiating yourself in the 'progressive', 'bleeding-heart', culture whose selfless disposition always gives the unfortunate homeless an extremely generous benefit of the doubt. It is also your passion as well, a very noble one I admit. Washing the feet of a beggar, one can almost see you and Mother Teresa in prayer.

I'm not buying it anymore. Keeping these camps is wrong. As @33 and many others point out, a very large percentage of the homeless are too non-functional to afford or even keep up a free apartment.

But perhaps most important of all, these kids need to be kept safe. While it could be argued that it's stereotypical to worry about a child predator in homeless camp next to a school - wisdom dictates not to take the chance.

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