San Diego and San Francisco aren’t the only west coast cities struggling to handle its high percentage of homeless people.
Since 2015, Seattle has also been under a “state of emergency” due to the growing homeless population, as declared by the former Mayor Ed Murray.
Between 2015 and the end of 2017, the homeless population in Seattle has spiked by 40%.
"We're in kind of a perverse competition with San Francisco," said Daniel Malone, the executive director of Downtown Emergency Service Center, an advocacy group in downtown Seattle to the Standard.
Seattle’s homeless has set up camp in several pockets of the city, many of which are close to extremely wealthy areas.
One of these encampment areas is known as mega tent “mansion.”
"If you can live on the street and not pay rent, then why would you pay rent?” said a “resident’ of the mansion homeless encampment.
This encampment is located just a half of block from multi-million dollar condos in a high-rise building and the infamous Space Needle.
When forced to move from an encampment, most of the homeless people just set-up camp elsewhere and start a new home project at many of the others in the city.
"We've got the doors, the couch, the table," said Melissa Burns, who lives in a Seattle homeless encampment to Q13 News. "We've got the living room here, which is a mess right now because we're still constructing, but we're putting up the vinyl to cover it up, make it more attractive.
Local residents think the “mansion” encampment is an eyesore, while the dwellers believe they are making a statement.
"It is a form of protest. We're staking a claim. We're refusing to cower in our tents,” said Burns to Q13 News. “Some people are cheering us on, and some people are really angry about it.”
Even with the camp’s proximity to wealthy areas, a city spokesperson said there are no immediate plans to remove it.
That may be because the unhealthy conditions and diseases have yet to spread. Other encampments in the city are even encouraging unusual drug use.
“But Licton Springs Village, a microcommunity of 30 tiny houses and a couple of large dormitory tents—one that is officially sanctioned by the City of Seattle—takes a permissive view of drug abuse. It's a "low-barrier" community, meaning that people can use drugs freely here. Most homeless shelters and encampments demand residents live drug and alcohol free. But here, clean needles are distributed to the residents to prevent the spread of disease, and Narcan is available to resuscitate people who overdose,” writes the Standard. “Open since April 2017, on a formerly vacant lot squeezed between fast-food joints and low-budget motels, Licton Springs Village is home to nearly 70 homeless people who were "sleeping rough" until they moved in. The residents include several married couples who live together in simple, tiny homes—basically, wooden boxes 12 feet by 8 feet—donated by local groups. Children aren't allowed because of the open drug use.”
The non-profit SHARE/WHEEL operates the village offering food, bathrooms, and showers to the residents.
Programs like this are supposed to combat the homeless population, but some argue that they only make the “residents” less inclined to want to leave and become contributing members of society.
“Nationwide, the homeless population is ticking up at about 1 percent a year,” writes the Standard. “But growth is being driven by a surge in just a few areas, chiefly Seattle, Portland, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading authority on homelessness, points out that because those areas are experiencing such rapid gains and the total population has increased by only 1 percent, other areas of the country are actually reducing their homeless populations.”
So why are these areas seeing a surge in the homeless population?
There are a few factors like the “prosperity paradox,” where the living expenses are so high in these cities that most families and individuals have to rely on public assistance. Then there’s also the spike in opioid addiction and mental illness.
Author’s note: But what a lot of these article fail to mention is if both Seattle and San Francisco took a stricter approach to cleaning up camps and the streets of the homeless like Mayor Rudy Giuliani did in New York, this wouldn’t be so out of control. This is what happens with liberal mismanagement.