How can Mayor Ed Murray declare a Homelessness State of Emergency and simultaneously ramp up the rate of sweeps and raids?

Share story

Hypocrisy from City Hall

I was horrified to read Daniel Beekman’s Dec. 21 report on the stepped up efforts of city authorities to dismantle and destroy homeless camps under the guise of “cleaning up” [“Seattle officials say more ‘sweeps’ of homeless camps in the works,” NWMonday]. How can Mayor Ed Murray declare a Homelessness State of Emergency and simultaneously ramp up the rate of sweeps and raids? How is this anything but hypocrisy?

My 9-year-old and I recently met a group of about 20 people, including women and children, living in a tent community of a dozen tents. This chance encounter completely changed my perspective on homelessness. Yes, some in this little camp struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues. But to the extent they can, they watch out for one another. They share resources. They keep each other safe. This tent community is in an industrial area, under an overpass that provides some shelter from the elements. The group’s presence there is harming no one.

The city acknowledges a lack of funds or housing options to get everyone indoors for the winter. When their tents are swept away, where will the children sleep?

Linda Williamson, Seattle

What else can we do?

Editor, The Times:

I appreciate the information and insights which have been provided on the issues related to homelessness in our state, including the unfortunate jailing rather than helpful interventions resulting from the well-intentioned Becca Laws.

Washington first lady Trudi Inslee’s Dec. 21 op-ed [“The immediate dangers facing children living on the street,” Opinion] included information about efforts of organizations and state agencies to improve services for the homeless population, including shelter, employment, and emergency services like mentalhealth care, mentoring and education — all with the aim of breaking the cycle of homelessness. It’s encouraging to hear about these actions.

The first lady’s penultimate paragraph suggests that we stop, smile and connect with homeless individuals we encounter. I would like some guidance in making such an encounter potentially more worthwhile.

I have often wished that I had a small handout that would list resources or a contact where a needy person could be guided to suitable contacts for his or her particular situation (e.g., disabled vet, unemployed single parent and kids, or assistance with finding an affordable rental).

I am not qualified to provide appropriate assistance, so I usually do not respond to homeless persons holding signs stating their needs, but I wish I could help in a more meaningful way than smiling or handing out some food.

Carolyn Reid, Bellevue