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October 3, 2013 at 7:29 PM
Social services won’t fix the problem
It isn’t safe on Seattle streets anymore. [“Offenses go unpunished on downtown streets,” page one, Sept. 30.]
Either you or your companions are subject to being shot or stabbed; Or at least mugged, harassed by street people or caught up as an innocent bystander in some drug or alcohol-fueled altercation. Mayor Mike McGinn’s solution? More social services. Yeah … that’s going to fix the problem.
And when it doesn’t? Why the politicians and the bureaucrats try to “solve” the problem by pointing fingers at each other and calling for more social services. None of our politically correct “leaders” would ever think of trying something really radical, like enforcing the law.
Seattle’s streets have become a zoo and the animals are in charge. Until our elected and appointed officials start letting the police department do its job, things are only going to get worse.
Gerald D. Cline, Kent
September 15, 2013 at 8:01 AM
There has been much said and written about the environment in downtown Seattle lately. [“Council, stakeholders discuss downtown crime,” NW Thursday, Sept. 5.]
I have been in the area of Pine and Pike at various times making deliveries, and I have seen so many things I consider disturbing and unsafe.
I am not trained to notice, but I have no problem seeing how it must look to visitors and guests in our city. I see people moving to the other side of the street to avoid contact with someone yelling, panhandling or being a perceived threat to their safety.
I have been in the back of my truck and approached by individuals looking for “free samples,” seen others arguing on the sidewalk and close to fighting and other obvious activities that should not be tolerated.
This happens in the early morning, midday and afternoon, and there has been very little police presence to stop these activities. Why do we have to have a major crime to bring this to a stop?
If I were visiting another city as a tourist and saw this, I would not only leave that area, but also tell others what I saw and encourage them to stay away.
Alan Greear, Maple Valley
September 12, 2013 at 6:22 AM
It’s a problem
The problems in downtown Seattle are not just perception. [“Editorial: Downtown Seattle feels unsafe. Fix it,” Opinion, Sept. 8.]
I’ll focus on one day, Aug. 12. I had clients in town who experienced the shooting of a Metro bus driver, the subsequent police chase and the fatal shooting of the gunman. On our walk to lunch at Pike Place Market, we encountered both vomit and feces on the sidewalk. To cap off the day, an apparently homeless man was passed out at my bus stop.
My job moved from Tacoma to Seattle in 2010. I realize that, to many Seattleites, Tacoma is considered the armpit of Western civilization. Yes, the City of Destiny has had its problems. However, through diligence and a strong police presence, including regular bicycle patrols, downtown Tacoma is now a much safer place to be.
I implore the city of Seattle and your future mayor to clean up the downtown core for the safety of its citizens and denizens.
Jill McEntee, Tacoma
September 10, 2013 at 4:22 PM
Learn from it, and fix it
But first, write about it so that the voters of the city and the state actually see what has been wrought since President Reagan claimed that we would provide better care to those confined in mental institutions if they were moved into our communities.
I am not afraid to walk around or through street people, but I hate that they are there. I want our community to see our obligation to confront the fact of their presence.
I do not want more police officers to move them on to another corner. These people stand, sit and lie down, in evidence of the cruelty that ever greater profits flowing up to the ever fewer do not “lift all boats,” and no longer even “trickle down.”
Janet Winans, Seattle
September 4, 2013 at 6:53 PM
Columnist made false judgments
How is it possible that someone who is intelligent enough to be a syndicated columnist can make such claims? [“Column: Putting the squeeze on panhandling,” Opinion, Sept, 1.]
First of all, there’s this assumption: “ … a sign saying ‘homeless veteran’ (hardly ever the case) …” Did she count them, those “disheveled beings?”
“Few panhandlers are homeless …” Really? Did she ask each and every one of the thousands upon thousands of homeless and panhandlers across America?
Busy gal, working so hard to get her facts, er, judgments straight. Come down to my shop. We can chat with some of the hundreds of homeless teens on the streets.
Maybe you could change a few of those well-researched “statistics.”
Susan Fox, executive director, Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets
September 1, 2013 at 8:03 AM
Jobs should be first priority
I recently turned 33, and can proudly say I do remember when gas was 99 cents a gallon, and even a quarter a gallon. I am struggling to meet basic daily needs such as clothing and food, having been let go from my job more than a month ago. [“Nickelsville ready to morph into 3 parts,” NW Friday, Aug. 30.]
What’s even sadder is that the city is choosing to forcefully evict the Nickelsville homeless community at the start of September.
At a time when I may be evicted from low-income housing due to decision delays at the unemployment office, the Nickelsville community remains the only place available for shift workers to rest, in comparison with regular shelters’ operating hours.
Hiring activity is now being challenged by the cost of the Affordable Care Act, and hours are being reduced across the board, with some businesses even instituting hiring freezes.
The 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in this area is incorrectly focusing on affordable housing, not jobs. Low-income workers cannot get housing that is “appropriate and affordable” if they can’t first find, and more importantly, retain employment.
Doug Brehm, Seattle
August 29, 2013 at 6:26 AM
Former New Yorker Stuart Marvin’s pointed observations about Seattle’s grizzly downtown and his recommended solutions are right-on. [“Downtown crime shocks New Yorker,” NW Wednesday, Aug. 28.]
But as someone whose migration pattern is the reverse of his — after 35 years in Western Washington, I moved to metropolitan New York — I know why his solutions won’t happen.
In New York, citizens and taxpayers are protected from rabble-rousers and criminals. In Seattle, it’s the reverse: rabble-rousers, who are often petty criminals, are coddled and protected by city officials.
[City Attorney] Peter Holmes’ unwillingness to act against repeat offenders is an example. Ditto the mere presence of Nickelsville, the illegal homeless camp that’s a stick in Seattle’s eye with only empty City Council rhetoric directed against it.
New Yorkers wouldn’t tolerate either for an instant. I saw two NYPD officers take a paper sack containing a bottle of Jack Daniels from a man and pour it into the gutter, then he was hauled off.
In Seattle, go after scofflaws or impose legal sanctions against unlawful encampments and you incur the wrath of nonprofits and bureaucratic sycophants.
You’re then checked by official timidity, political correctness and the fear of hurting someone’s feelings, none of which matter to a New Yorker.
Scott St. Clair, Clifton, N.J.
August 28, 2013 at 7:22 AM
Bulldozing encampment is inhumane
Nickelsville is counting the days to Sept. 1, the date set by the Seattle City Council for evicting residents from their encampment of over two years.
This threatens to be “not a good photo op” for the city, as Councilmember Nick Licata put it, but it will be more than that: If Nickelsville is bulldozed, this will be a moral wrong, a breach of the fraying bonds of decency that keep us human.
Having a home means more than being sheltered by a roof and four walls. It means being sheltered by one’s fellow human beings, able to rely on their aid in times of need. It means having a community. By these standards, the Nickelodeons have, through their own ingenuity and hard work, built more of a home than most of us can claim.
If the mayor and the City Council destroy Nickelsville, they will be destroying this home. They will be breaking up families and couples and forcing more than 150 men, women and children onto a demoralizing merry-go-round of case management.
Until we as a city and as a society create a way of life that is affordable, Seattle has a moral obligation to recognize and support self-managed homeless encampments. It is remarkable that homeless people in our city have come together and built democratic organizations for their own safety, dignity and collective well-being.
Rather than bulldoze Nickelsville, the city should work to find it a long-term site.
Katie Wilson, general secretary of the Transit Riders Union, Seattle
August 9, 2013 at 7:01 AM
Churches are stepping up
While I appreciate the effort to call attention to challenges revolving around encampments for the homeless, I was disappointed that the statements made about faith communities in Seattle were unhelpful. [“Who will step up to help the homeless?”, Opinion, Aug. 4.]
To say that “no religious entity has stepped up recently to host a camp in Seattle” is simply untrue. Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, long known for its commitment to social justice, will greet Tent City 3 (TC3) on Saturday, Aug. 10.
Some 100 members of TC3 arrive to set up residence on the lower half of our parking lot, which they will call home until October, when they will move to another church.
This will mark the 13th consecutive year Saint Mark’s Cathedral has welcomed this group onto our campus, and with broad support from our Capitol Hill neighbors. We also host 30 homeless women in our parish hall five nights each week as part of the Noel House ministries.
Why do we offer these services? Because the need is there, and because we are blessed by the experience, too. Our ministry is more than hospitality; it affords opportunity to engage one another in our common humanity, and those who worship here gain wisdom from the people who live alongside us for a time.
We invite other communities of faith to consider joining us and the other congregations that already support those for whom tent encampments are necessary, even while we long for comprehensive community plans to end homeless in our great city.
Rev. Steven Thomason, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle
August 6, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Everyone should contribute
If you want to know what is next in helping people who are homeless, your paper might promote an increase in county and city taxes that would be allocated specifically for more emergency services and affordable housing. [“Editorial: Who will step up to help the homeless?”, Opinion, Aug. 4.]
Across the board, churches and faith-based organizations already carry their fair share and more in providing emergency services for homeless people.
The responsibility of addressing this crisis in our community rests with the entire population of King County and the city of Seattle, especially those residents whose annual income exceeds $100,000.
Increased revenue through equitable taxation is the fairest way to share in this responsibility. Your question, “Who will step up to help the homeless?” can be answered in one word: Everyone!
Rev. Ron Moe-Lobeda, University Lutheran Church, Seattle
Regional efforts must continue
Today I saw one of my neighbors at a University District church’s feeding program for people who are homeless and otherwise in need. He wasn’t there as a volunteer; he came to get a meal.
I was surprised, until I thought about the effect of the recession on middle- and low-income people. Locally, one in five children is at risk of hunger, according to United Way of King County. The lack of affordable housing in this area, coupled with high unemployment, is a major barrier to economic stability.
I’m troubled by this editorial and by some of our Seattle City Council members, who prefer foisting responsibility from government onto churches — who are already doing so much to provide food and shelter — and pitting Seattle against neighboring cities.
To end hunger and homelessness, we need continued efforts as a region, with government, faith communities, nonprofits, private funders and individual residents all unified against poverty.
Catherine Hinrichsen, Seattle
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