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What’s next for Seattle’s homeless?

Published on August 24, 2016

A homeless citizen sits amongst pedestrians.
Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures and George Hodan of Hodan Photography.

Their future depends on answering hard questions about what type of community we want this to be.

This is the final piece in a three-part series about the region’s homelessness crisis. Read parts 1 and 2 here and here.

It has been over nine months since Seattle Mayor Ed Murray declared a “state of civil emergency” in response to an alarming, and growing, number of people living on the streets. While we’ve not seen Red Cross tents across the courthouse lawn as we would in the aftermath of a natural catastrophe, there has been plenty to conjure the image of a disaster area, with new makeshift camps popping up around the city every day.

Murray has threaded the needle between competing constituencies, expending considerable political capital to support newly sanctioned encampments in city neighborhoods while at the same time aggressively sweeping others away. But following revelations last week from the Seattle Times that the sweeps were characterized by miscommunications and chaos, Murray pledged to look more closely at how people are moved out of homeless encampments.

The phrase “do no harm” is one that enters policy discussions more and more these days. When I used it in a recent conversation about the encampment sweeps, an elected official literally began to weep, clearly sensing that, as a city, we might not be living up to this basic maxim.

Continue reading at Crosscut.

(Originally published by Crosscut and Sinan Demirel.)

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