This morning as I walked along the Third Avenue sidewalk I saw a woman in a wheelchair, motionless. As I approached her, I ran through the possible scenarios of my concern: deranged screaming, spitting, cursing, a knife, a gun. And then I asked her if she was okay (she nodded) and did she need help (she shook her head no). There was a time when I would have gone closer, maybe put my hand on her arm to exhibit human contact and warmth. This morning I kept a respectful distance. Believe me, on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle, it could just as well been a gun. So sure, be compassionate, but also be aware that the streets are full of people with mental health "issues" that make them unpredictable.
@1 What, exactly, "could have just as well been a gun"? There's some mysterious "it" in your comment that suggests a danger was present, but "it" is not defined, and apparent;y "it" is what caused you to keep your distance and not make human contact. So what is it if it wasn't a gun?
@2 It, is fear.

Based on randommonkey's comments at…

"So much precious taxpayer money being spent on people who are really anxious to kill themselves by injecting drugs into their bodies. Why not let them? It's their choice, their life. So rude to interfere with adults who just want to die their way. No safe sites required, just whatever dingy hole is available. No problem. I've known junkies. They don't care about their lives and neither do I."

I'm convinced @1 doesn't think very highly of people other than @1, was probably truly afraid for their life thus keeping a respectful distance. Because of all too often, especially on Third Avenue in downtown Seattle (twice to me today as a matter of fact), I've went to help an old woman only for it to be a gun.
2 & 3 are attacking me instead of responding to the IA letter. Typical.
Fine. I agree with IA. People are really self-absorbed and they need to get out of their bubble. Otherwise, no matter how nice they might be, they are perceived as an a-hole. But, I think I saw that woman on Third Avenue (up by Biscuit Bitch?). I also saw a guy passed out on Harbor Steps a couple of hours ago and made sure the guy on the phone next to him was getting help. Neither seemed particularly dangerous, just in really terrible places in life. I'm sad to hear you've lost your ability to connect due to fear. I hope you can get it back.
"So many urban environments have gone the way of total narcissism, especially when they get a massive influx of money"

This is just not true at all. It's not narcissism, it's compassion fatigue. If you lived in a dense part of the city and had a walkable lifestyle, you would need to spend the majority of your time saving the struggling souls all around you. Just because you live in a quieter part of the city and still have evergy to save everyone you come across, that now makes me a narcissist for no longer having the emotional resources I used to have before I moved to the city?

Also, influx of money is definitely not it. Find a truly impoverished dense urban neighborhood and you'll see a lot more unconscious people being ignored on the street. We don't really have any truly poor neighborhoods in Seattle, so you'll have to travel for the experience.
This I, Anon is just all so sad. It reminds me of a scene right out of "Midnight Cowboy" (1969, directed by John Schlesinger, who won the Academy Award that year for Best Director). Jon Voight, as transplanted Texan Joe Buck, espies a man lying dead on a crowded New York City sidewalk, and is the only one stopping or showing any concern. Seattle is no longer the city I once knew. I might not live in my native city anymore, but fuck any bullshit about "Seattle Freeze"--I want it back! 700,000 people does not equal 16 million people = 1,500 per square inch.
Nowadays when I see a Medic 1 heading down the street I wonder if they are responding to a frequent and known patient who is alcohol or opiate poisoned. Perhaps a medic can comment. Most of these individuals are on a revolving door that the rest of us pay for via taxes and more. By all means if someone is passed out and their safety in question, call 911 rather than amateur diagnosing and risking being wrong.

This is not about compassion fatigue or city growth. It is about many learning or believing that this is a normal state and "help" is not possible or desired by the victim themselves. We need as a city to compel treatment. Take a few of the 50mm in annual homeless spend and devote to law enforcement and zero tolerance of urban camping or trespass. Make Seattle hellish and unwelcome for the chronic inebriates and the sociopathic flocking to our streets. Those who feel otherwise pleases share your personal spaces with them.
It's nothing new. We've had homeless and shanty towns for over 150 years. Yesler way is the original skid row in the united states.

Of course it's sad, but it's not a big city issue. We had plenty of homeless when Seatle was a small town.

A lot of it has to do with the relative ease of living outside or with minimal shelter in the pacific northwest. Most places that's not possible.
When I moved to Seattle (Pike & Boren) from Palo Alto, I saw a person unconscious in the door of the apartment building. I called 9-1-1 to report it. EMT and Seattle PD responded. When I inquired as to the condition of the person, the SPD cop said, "It's just another drunk Indian – they (King County EMT) will just haul him to detox around the corner – It happens all the time." That was 1989.

"A lot of it has to do with the relative ease of living outside or with minimal shelter in the pacific northwest. Most places that's not possible."

Are YOU chemically altered? Seriously. This is one of the most laughable things I've read in days.
If I called the police every time I saw someone in Seattle passed out on the sidewalk, I think I'd be late for anything I tried to do.
I'd like to hear about how the cops took hours to show up. Or if they showed up at all.
Thank you for stopping.
Nothing narcissistic about writing a 500 word public screed celebrating the heroics of last decent person in a city, and that person is yourself.
@15, The cops don't show up for this, the Fire Dept or EMTs do. The sirens start wailing, the firetruck pulls out of the station down by 15th/Market and comes rolling in with lights flashing. The firemen get off the truck to check on the passed out guy on the sidewalk who grumbles, gets up and shuffles down the street for a bit and then the scene repeats. This happens all day every day in Ballard so it's little wonder that everyone on the block doesn't respond every time.
can we agree it's a number of factors that leads to people ignoring the motionless person on the street, none of which are "narcissism"? i swear, do people even know what the words mean anymore? how about we just use emojis instead, as much less confusion will ensue. oh wait--that's exactly why they exist. some day we will all be texting entirely in hieroglyphs and all will be clear.
UH, as a Native, 53, the "nice city" really never was, it was more passive aggressive, anxiety ridden, it was more, "LOOK at how nice I am." I once met a dude from Mississippi who said he understood Seattle, he said, you're like us in the South, you can say "thank you" and mean "fuck you." Exactly. I grew up in the Seattle of live and let live, which essentially meant, leave me the fuck alone...anyway, have a great day!
Exactly what 20 said. I'm a native as well and sure, Seattle has always been "different" but not in a good way. We have more self centered passive aggressive narcissists than anywhere else!
@8 You can crawl back into your hole any time you want...and have a nice day.
The Stranger wanted a "real city" for all of these years, right? Well now you have it.
Seattle is being filled in by people from income levels ($100k++++) and cultures (affluent California) that already work off of self-centered ways of life. Don't expect more big hugs and kind bud from newcomers. The moron FOB drivers can't even be brought to make eye contact with you when they almost run into you in a crosswalk.
@10 Yesler was named skid row. But for logging, not poverty.
@25. Skid Road, not Row.
#20 nailed it. I know we are a bit off topic but too many people believe the hype about Seattle culture. Every time I hear someone utter the word "community" in Seattle, I vomit a little in my mouth. I've lived in places where communal thinking comes from a necessity to survive as everyone's fate is tied to one another. Seattle's economy offers people the opportunity to be less dependent on one another.
Well it's sure a lucky thing that a morally superior person such as yourself happened by.
To be honest, the last time I asked a person lying on a sidewalk if they were ok I got screamed at by that person for waking them up. This was around 6pm in a residential neighborhood bus stop. Now I try to tell if they're breathing, if I can't tell I just call the 911 to do a welfare check.
@9 you don't deserve an answer from a medic. You really imagine people "flock" to big cities to enjoy their decline in to drugs and death? You are an idiot. You really think they were somewhere else and said "shit, lets jump on a plane and head to Seattle for all the free Narcan we can get after overdosing" or they gassed up their car with $3/gallon gas to drive to Seattle from some other place? Seattle and it's meteoric "rise" created those people from the local population, no imports needed.
We stare at them in wonder hoping to come up with an answer that should keep them from being too curious about our behavior, but all we do is stare. Not even a word that makes sense manages to slip out of our lips.

This is mainly because – A) we don’t have an answer B) the answer is quite complicated and would be totally hard to elaborate to a random person C) we don’t care what others think and wouldn’t mind leaving the speaker curious.
Sometimes, like in my case, we’re just too hurt to find an explanation that could satiate their hearts.
More on my blog IQ Essay
I don't live in Seattle, but in a different urban jungle with lots of small pockets of "quieter" streets and neighborhoods. Completely agree with @6. I don't think its narcissism, its fatigue. Or even actually recognizing the same person passed out on the same block/bench/patch of grass day after day. Yes, I've been known to stop and call the 911 (while admittedly keeping a safe distance) but after a couple of times of watching the same dude stumble around drunkenly and then a few hours later seeing him passed I walk by him without stopping. Call it what you want, but I can't stop for him anymore. I do say a little prayer in the vein of "there but for the grace go I" as I'm an alcoholic myself, but yea...if someone saw me walking by in my suit and heels and fancy car, they may have the same attitude, that I'm uncaring. I'm not.
I agree with your assessment of what the problem is. However, many towns and cities have tried your approach for the solution, and it has failed over and over again. Housing first, however, is a relatively new solution that attacks the problem a different way. Help those who are homeless have something stable in their lives - a home. This has been shown to make a much bigger difference in helping them have the energy to go after their other problems in life - addiction, mental health, looking for work - and get back on their feet.
It's no longer troubling to see people laid out in the streets. The City of Seattle encourages and condones it. Why is anyone surprised that people become "blind" and "numb" to this kind of thing? If you stopped for every person that "might" need help, you'll never get anything done.
Addiction and mental illness is not a choice.

Before 1980 people laid out on the streets in Seattle was not common. Housing was not the issue it is now. It was much more available and less expensive.

We need the Housing First approach to dramatically resolve this issue.

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