War on Homelessness, or War on the Homeless?

Busting encampments doesn’t end homelessness any more than busting drug users created a drug-free America.

Last Friday a homeless man fell from a ledge over I-5. He later died from his injuries, and the media has little to say about the whole affair. Anyone following my blog knows how big a deal Sher Kung’s death turned out to be…it is funny how we as a society value different types of people. She was young, active, an icon and role model by all accounts; he was older, homeless, invisible. I found out about Sher Kung’s death from shocked Seattleites and a slew of media coverage; I learned of his accident in an email warning about the traffic jam his fall created. What more needs to be said?

Luckily, the Stranger is always good for covering stories overlooked by the mainstream media. The Stranger article not only reports on the incident but examines the reasons why homeless people are being forced into dangerous situations. “When we don’t take responsibility for the people who are sleeping outside, and instead penalize and criminalize people sleeping outside, it just drives them into more remote and unsafe situations” says Director of Real Change Tim Harris.

I occasionally work with homeless people and I personally know people who have lived homelessly in Seattle. To me Nickelsvile and other encampments are not an eyesore or a problem. They are a solution for people who the system is not supporting. Sure, it might not be the best solution but with needs high and resources low a second-best solution might be all we have. These people are building a community and supporting themselves – why are we trying to prevent this?