Violence is one of many constant threats faced by homeless people in Seattle and across the country. Seattle Times archives show at least 20 instances of killing, rape and harassment of homeless people since 2007.
Among myriad threats Seattle-area homeless people face on the streets, violence and brutality, sometimes targeted, are a consistent part of life on society’s margins.
A search of Seattle Times archives finds at least 20 instances of killing, rape and harassment of homeless people since 2007.
Just last year, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office recorded 91 deaths of homeless people. Six of those were considered homicides.
The National Coalition for the Homeless (NHC) found 1,437 acts of violence against homeless people across the country from 1999-2013 in which they were targeted because they were homeless. Some homeless people distrust government or police so officials aren’t notified, said Megan Hustings, the coalition’s interim director.
“A lot of attacks, a lot of violence is not reported. With our hate-crimes report, this is only a drop in the bucket,” she said.
Seattle and the state have taken measures to enhance prosecutions of those who target homeless people.
In 2007, a few years after Washington was ranked the third-most dangerous state for homeless people, the Seattle City Council approved a bill adding homelessness to its hate-crime law, giving specific protection to the homeless.
Under that law, Seattle police reported six cases of hate crimes against homeless people since 2010, the first year reports were available.
And in 2011, the Legislature approved a measure that included homelessness as a factor courts could consider for aggravated sentencing.
Here’s a list of violence against homeless people in Seattle and surrounding areas since 2007: