Guest Rant Jul 21, 2023 at 10:00 am

Stop the Sweeps Until There’s Enough Indoor Space for All Unsheltered People

You know what's not going to help this person transition out of homelessness? Forcing them to move and then throwing away all their stuff. David Ryder / GETTY



There can be enough housing if and only if we get rent control so wealthy and or high income people moving here can’t cut to the front of the line.
Forced treatment is unnecessary and deadly, please research the new innovations in outpatient treatment.


@3: While it’s nice to see the Stranger becoming ever more desperate as it fails to stop encampment removals, this new level of denial about the homelessness crisis truly amazes. Two public health professionals write an entire essay about Seattle’s homelessness crisis, without once using the words “drugs” or “addiction.” Then they rail about deaths of homeless persons without mentioning overdoses. This begins to recall public health in the last days of the Soviet Union, when the regime forced psychiatrists into quackery by making them treat as “mentally ill,” persons who were really just guilty of dissent. Only here, the delusions are voluntary.


Some of this article makes sense. I would, however, like to seem support for the assertion that there is enough vacant space to house everyone. I certainly don’t know where it is.


Amy Hagopian has a long history of dumb ideas. She represents an ideologically captured academia.


Here in rural Redmond when couple tried to camp out on a vacant 5 acre they were swiftly escorted away by lot a small fleet of King County Sheriff SUVs. It's more than a Seattle problem. The homeless are funneled there.


So the solution is do nothing and if they burn down stuff then that’s today’s “price of freedom”?


@1: conservatives aren't "good" at not making this problem worse. they might be good at pushing the drug addicts out of their towns and in to western washington.

we're NEVER going to re-integrate the majority of the drug-addled and mentally ill homeless back into society. they disabled their brains. gainful employment? please.


Sweep the anti sweep people they’re trash anyway.


@2 how would rent control prevent people “cutting in line”. I have never heard that argument in the litany of poor excuses to support something that is shown to restrict housing supply.

When it comes to the addicted, housing first isn’t the end all solution we are promised either. When you put a bunch of mentally ill addicted people in the same apt building with minimal restriction turns out they turn it to shit pretty quickly. Ask Portland


@17: It may be less about the pain, and more about the brain. Some brains are just more susceptible to Substance Use Disorder, allowing opiates to hijack the dopamine response. But Seattle can’t even talk meaningfully about treating the addicts who make up so much of the homeless population, because certain Progressive Council Members, supported by the Stranger, refuse even to acknowledge addiction as a driver of homelessness. This headline post may as well have been written as an explicit exhibit of such civic denial.

No one wants to punish homeless persons. But the first responsibility of government is to protect the rights, safety, and property of the citizens, not to provide whatever to anyone who happens to show up in town already homeless and addicted.* Encampments are dangerous lawless zones which must be cleared for the benefit of all, including the persons who reside in them. How often does an encampment resident make it into stable, permanent housing? Not often, but even the Stranger has admitted sweeps are the best path from an encampment to housing.

*The Stranger’s constant inversion of these priorities is one of the most frustrating elements of dealing with both homelessness and the Stranger.


This article links to a "study" that is basically a computer simulation of what could possibly happen to swept homeless drug addicts whose delivery method of choice is injection. Then it links to a FB post talking about an increase in deaths in the homeless population that is overwhelmingly overdoses. And from this its conclusion is that sweeps are. dangerous? Perhaps an alternative conclusion could be better justified from their cites: the encampments are extraordinarily dangerous public health hazards that put their residents and surrounding areas at risk every day they are allowed to exist. Rather than perpetuating these public health emergencies, sweeps help mitigate them.

Just look at yesterday's encampment fire as an example. An encampment resident was burned and the surrounding area was put at risk from a fire caused by unsafe living conditions that would never be allowed in any building anywhere. Sweeping these places mitigates the potential harm to residents and the surrounding community.

The Stranger's editorial shift to prioritizing encampments above all other municipal civic responsibilities continues to be completely bizarre.


It has just never been part of any social contract in the country that you get a free apartment. that has just never been a thing. Whether it should be as a different question but it’s not.
Dishonesty about the nature of the problem: addiction and mental health drive 70% of this problem, if not more. These were not, by and large, folks who were “just one paycheck away”. That’s just dishonest magical thinking.
There is no such thing as “just one tent”. The minute there’s one then there’s three then there’s eight then there’s 15. Allowing any tents sends the message the tents are allowed.
Guaranteed that the stranger and Erica Barnett will both completely ignore the fact that there was a monstrous inferno directly in front of Harborview above I5 yesterday. Unlike the New York Times the slogan would be “all the news that fits the narrative”.
Absolutely 100% sweep. Absolutely sweep.
The observation that the two authors likely live in a very nice single-family neighborhood is spot on. If you live near an encampment you know what that’s like.
The fact that Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos live here does not obligate them to use their money to solve this issue. That’s not how public policy works. This is a Community challenge that everyone has to be part of the solution to.


Following up on @23:

“Service providers from the Low Income Housing Institute, REACH, CoLEAD, and other organizations agree that the best way to find shelter is to get swept into it…”


So, why do the authors of this post want to take away “the best way” homeless campers have to find shelter?


Thank you both for your excellent article on a topic that demonstrates with these comments the deep cruelty of some people and their absolute refusal to have a society that shares and protects its most vulnerable citizens. I wonder if all the letter writers approved of the South African police sweeps of black folks homes? The Israeli army policy of bulldozing Palestinian homes? Do you imagine that you could never find yourself in trouble? Not tearing people out of their meager shelter in winter is a pretty low bar and it appears Seattleites can’t even do that. Kathy Barker


@31: Why would we want to stop homeless persons from having “the best way to find shelter, [which] is to get swept into it…”? (@29) Wouldn’t the persons who advocate stopping sweeps be the ones who demonstrate “deep cruelty” towards the homeless?

(Also, apartheid ended thirty years ago. Just sayin’.)

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