Getting to Know Seattle: Homelessness

You’ve heard of Sleepless in Seattle, the 1993 film starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. This is Homeless in Seattle. Deep inside this dirty mound of stuff is a human being. He or she is on a busy Seattle street, in an arts neighborhood — this is early morning, the streets and sidewalks will be much more crowded later. There is no public bathroom or place to wash one’s person or clothing or blankets anywhere nearby. The stench is terrible, even at this distance. I imagine local merchants and restaurant owners are not pleased.

When the winter rains begin, this location will no longer be tenable. I’m not sure where the person inside will drag all of these belongings then.

Seattle has shelters, although not enough. There are lots of places to get a free sack lunch — my friend Connie used to volunteer at one, making sandwiches. Finding a place to be treated free for illness is harder. Getting something like a disability check is impossible when you have no address. This is a place to squat, not an address.

I can barely begin to imagine the wrap-around services that would be needed to get a person out of this mound and into something resembling a functional life. Unfortunately, although Seattle spends a lot of money on the “homeless problem”, no elected official in a position of authority seems to be able to imagine either.

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