A Neighborhood Group Was Mapping Where Homeless People Live—Until I Asked Them About It

Comments

1
I can't think of a better method to ensure safety than antagonizing people that may be already on the edge. And every day their numbers grow...
2
Imagine if these jerks could put this much effort into doing something to actually help homeless people? I am on the Wallingford neighborhood facebook group and it is pretty much non stop complaining about unsightly homeless people, wondering when to call the cops on homeless people and an occasional complaint about badly disposed dog poop.
3
Yeah, I think there are a lot of these folks camping out (pun intended) on NextDoor: virulent, paranoid NIMBY's who want to "help" the homeless by criminalizing everything they do, kicking them out of their neighborhoods, or giving them one-way bus fare to become some other city's problem.
4
@3 That's been my experience with NextDoor. I live in pretty fancy North Capitol Hill, and there has been some interest in hiring armed private militias--at least that's what I called them; they prefer private security--to keep the riff raff out.

Since I can't opt out of that service, I'm secretly hoping they harass me because I'm pretty sure they don't indemnify the people that hire them against lawsuits.
5
I've started a new site called Sane Seattle. It includes a map that allows people to report and track frothing-at-the-mouth NIMBYs. Map their homes and upload pictures of them so that we can keep an eye on their crazy anti-homeless antics. Let's help these maniacs realize that people who are homeless are actual human beings!

6
Aww you guys, I am sure this is all gonna go south really soon but I am so excited that a few other people in this town think that this map is totally horrifying! I WANT TO JOIN SANE SEATTLE #5!
7
@5: I love the idea of Sane Seattle. We need a group catering to the YIMBY faction (Yes In My Backyard). The problem right now is that the mouth-breathing paranoids are the ones who are showing up at neighborhood meetings and dominating the conversation.
8
This is borderline sociopathic behavior. Can you imagine being hateful enough to take the time to do this?
10
@4:

Why would you not be able to opt out? Do you live in some sort of gated community with a homeowner's covenant attached to your property? Or is it a condo with an annoying HOA board that "voted" to hire a security firm and is forcing you to pay against your wishes? In either case, perhaps they might want to hold off on that decision until we find out what's going to happen to the company those Magnolia homeowners hired a few months back that's been harassing people driving to their own fucking jobs.
11
@5 & @7 Not that this is perfect but the CityBuilders group is the closest thing this town has to a YIMBY safe space. Things can get heated online there over wonky nuance but offline everyone is very supportive. There also the monthly meetups hosted by The Urbanist. Seattle Subway and Seattle Transit Blog also have meetups, I think. Then there's events hosted by progressive non-profits like Futurewise, Puget Sound Sage, Sierra Club and more! (Sometimes there are single-issue groups like Seattle for Everyone which is related to supporting the HALA agenda.) I also don't want to leave out One America which is the definition of YIMBY and then all the wonderful social service providers and unions and too many to name groups that work on affordability and being a welcoming community and issues for people experiencing housing insecurity.

The YIMBYS are a diverse bunch in our city and outnumber the NIMBYs who just get all the press. Twitter is a good place to find the YIMBYs. The NIMBYS are rarely there. There's also a national North American YIMBY conference in June 2016 in Boulder - the first ever! Super exciting time to be a YIMBY!
12
Harley Lever is a founding member of the private group Neighborhood Safety Alliance. He seems to be the voice of Safe Seattle because many of the posts on Safe Seattle are then re-posted on Next Door Magnolia under his name. This latest activity is repulsive.
13
These derilects have brought crime and gunshots into my Ballard neighborhood.

Fuck them. I'm trying to raise my children in a safe area.
14
Ugh. NextDoor.

It occasionally has useful info, but seems to be largely filled with people who don't want to pay their taxes... They will complain about people living in their cars, and then blame the Housing Levy for the taxes on their million dollar homes.
16
Heidi Groover is upset because I refused to talk to her about the map and the Neighborhood Safety Alliance. See my reply to her below after she asked to speak with me. I had previously taken the time to talk with her, but she just kept reporting very slanted article. I will respond to the RV Map in my next comment.

Hi Heidi,

I would normally not have a problem commenting, however it is becoming blatantly obvious that The Stranger has no interest in reporting the truth, but rather a preferred narrative. After being involved in several meetings in which a Stranger reporter have been present, and reading what they report, I have been shocked by the magnitude of the departure from reality.

As a long-time Stranger reader, it has become very disappointing to see what can only be described as "Fox News"-like tactics. Now when reading the Stranger all I can assume is it is extreme biased played a role in every article.

This is too bad, because I think there is a lot of cross-over where we can work together to solve problems we all face. After all, as a Bernie Sander delegate, I think we (The Stranger and myself) would be on the same side politically. It is clear, that the Stranger has no interest in objectivity and discussing the realities of the situation.

Thank you for the opportunity, but I will politely decline until I see some objectivity restored to the Stranger. I wish you the best and hope that you may someday work for an organization that values journalistic integrity.

All my best,

Harley
17
I don't think there is any question that the Stranger is biased (although "Fox-News-Like" seems an odd juxtaposition... perhaps "MSNBC-like"?) But the question they raise is still valid: Does publicizing the locations of homeless do more harm to them (the homeless) than it provides benefit to homeowners? And even if it provides "more benefit than harm", then shouldn't we at least consider that the homeless are already in a shitty situation to begin with, and even minor harm becomes magnified in comparison.
18
Here is some clarification. I am a member of the NSA, but Safe Seattle and NSA are two separate organizations. We do not coordinate websites or Facebook posts. Heidi would have known this IF she took the time to actually investigate the article before writing it and did not burn so many bridges with her "Sean Hannity-like Reporting". The fact of the matter is, Heidi Groover is the first person I have ever refused to talk with. Her reporting has been so poor and so out-of-touch, that I found myself wasting time.... I mean, if you are going to ask someone for an interview, at least report what they are saying. Otherwise, stop wasting their time and write your propaganda... sorry, I may have insulted propaganda.

The map was actually very old and I had not kept it up-to-date due to the fact that I am one person and the situation is very dynamic. The reason the map was started in the first place was to track RV-based criminals, illegal encampments, and areas where many hypodermic needles were being found. Heidi seems to forget... or just never knew... that crime in Interbay and South Ballard was 850% - 1500% higher than the surrounding areas. We had an RV selling heroin, an RV involved in a $40,000 bike-theft ring, RV-based prostitution, and many others dumping trash, hypodermic needles, and human waste everywhere. The Seattle Police Department confirms that RVs are being used a platform for crime. LOOK IT UP! In fact, 46 cities in California, including Hollywood, California, have banned RV camping because many criminals have turned to the "Breaking Bad"-style crime enterprise.

In Heidi's previous article, she noted that she could only find "2 hypodermic needles" on Thorndyke... (she is 4 months behind the story). I agree. We have worked hard to get neighborhood cleaned up and having the RVs removed has completely changed our neighborhood. Crime has dropped dramatically. There is no more dumping of trash, human waste, and hypodermic needles are rarely found now. We have hundreds of photos, dozens of videos, and several news organizations have reported and documented how bad the situation was. Again, don't take my word for it, LOOK IT UP!

I pushed for and got the city to open up the Safe RV Lot. I did this for the first time in an interview with Linzi Sheldon on KIRO in November, after a RV-Based Crystal Meth Lab blew up. I pushed for it a a plank in the first NSA meeting, and was thrilled the city opened it. Again, LOOK IT UP! As many may know, the RV Safe Lot was set up, which I am very happy for. Sadly, the city is being bilked o the tune of $35,000/month for a parking lot to hold 20 RVs. $19,000 for staffing, $4,000 for accounting, $8,000 for rent, and the rest is for garbage and sewer. LOOK IT UP! We have "Homeless Service Providers" who cashing huge checks and have NO INTEREST IN HELPING THE HOMELESS.

Heidi Groover also ignores that the Safe Seattle site has solutions including; an RV Safe Lot, using the stadiums as homeless shelters, and developing a shipping container-based homeless shelters and skills development program. Again, LOOK IT UP!

Finally, if you are a YIMBY, I have great news! Go to my website, you can post your room or a job you have for our homeless neighbors, and I will help put you in contact with homeless people looking for a room or a job. http://www.safeseattle.org/index.php/job…

The TRUTH is Heidi Groover has no interest in talking about the realities of what our homeless endure and what the residents have gone through. Our homeless neighbors have criminals hiding among them and are the first to be victimized. We saw this in the Jungle, and we will see a lot more of this. Heroin addiction is growing exponentially and hundreds more will overdose. We need to eliminate the lines for rehab (150-person waiting list) so that the very second someone wants rehab and can get help. We need to fund mental health facilities to help get our mentally ill off the streets.

Homeless encampments are a symptom of a city doing a horrible job at addressing the issues our homeless neighbors face. Homelessness has dropped in 33 states, including California and Oregon. LOOK IT UP! Yet, Seattle spent $52 Million... the most per capita any where else in the country, and homelessness has skyrocketed 40% in 2 years. We need a radical change to fix this, not shoddy reporting.

20
BGIX, Good question. The Map was created in a point in time where crime was 850% - 1500% higher than the surrounding neighborhoods. Neighbors were having their homes broken into during the day time, cars prowls happened every night, we had an RV selling heroin on video tape, we had an RV-based crystal meth lab blow up, you could walk down Thorndyke to Gilman way and easily come across 50 - 100 discarded hypodermic needles, literally tons of trash, and human waste being dumped everywhere.

For 2 years several neighbors had called Seattle Police Department, the Mayor's Office, SDOT, and anyone else who would listen. For 2 years, NOTHING HAPPENED.

One day I came across a burned out RV on Thorndyke. There were hundreds of used needles, crystal meth lab equipment, propane bottles, 5 gallons of Kerosene, and it was just filled with trash. At that point, I said, "NO MORE". For one, there were several other homeless RV dwellers right next to this RV that could have been killed. Our fire fighters were tasked with putting out an inferno that had dirty needles, propane bottles, and 5 gallons of kerosene in it. But this was also on a bike path where hundreds of kids, families, and bikers pass every day. This could have been much worse.

I began posting videos and taking pictures of what was going on. (I still have all the pictures and videos if you want to see them). I began posting them Facebook and NextDoor asking for help to stop this. I soon found out that dozens of other neighbors had been calling too. My posts went viral of Facebook and NextDoor. Neighbors from all over the city began reaching out complaining about the same issue. RV-based criminals, hypodermic needles, tons of trash, and sewage being dumped everywhere. So I decided to create a map to catalog where the RV-based criminals, hypodermic needles, illegal encampments, and crimes were being reported.

The map did 2 things, it showed that where RVs were, there was a spike in crime when overplayed on a Seattle Police Department Crime Map (I'd be happy to provide this). It also allowed families to know which areas to avoid because we already had several reports of children picking up needles.

From the beginning, I have always made a distinction between criminals and the homeless. You will see this in every video, every un-cut interview, and I will say it here and to anyone listening. This is why I fought so hard for the RV Safe Lot and will continue to fight for housing, addiction services, and mental health services.

The Map was not a perfect solution, but it did put pressure on the city to do what they neglected to do for 2 years. Today, many of the areas have been cleaned up dramatically, crime has dropped dramatically, and the legitimately homeless RV dwellers have safe lots, access to garbage disposal and water, and most importantly mental health, addiction, and jobless services.

I will continue to pressure the city to remove the lines of addiction treatment, provide low-cost housing, and to fix the broken homeless services system which leaves our homeless neighbors in limbo for years with no hope of getting out of it. The fact of the matter is Seattle is failing terribly, when most of the nation is seeing steady drops in homelessness. Perhaps Heidi Groover should take some time to investigate that.
21
Heidi, here is what I was tracking. Perhaps you can explain why crime was skyrocketing around where RVs were parked. And then explain why now that the RVs are gone, crime has dropped off? https://www.facebook.com/safeseattle.org…
22
@11, as a proud self-declared YIMBY, what exactly is it that you're advocating for? What do you want in your backyard? Heroin and meth? Needles and human waste on the ground? Homeless encampments? Trash, property crime, graffiti?

No, I didn't think so.
23
@18- integrity and the stranger have only a nodding acquaintance. Don't expect lots of stranger readers to take you up on your offer to actually help the homeless.
24
@23 You are absolutely correct. The Stranger and Heidi Groover are devoid of integrity.

I spent almost an hour on the phone with her discussing Safe Injection sites (which I supported as I do not want people to die from addiction). We talked about the spectrum of issues from eliminating the wait for rehab, to giving loved ones and family members NARCAN/naxalone prescription in case a loved one overdoses, to suing Purdue Pharmaceutical and making them pay for the Oxycontin-induced heroin addiction for our addicted neighbors. Did Heidi mention any of this? Nope. Instead she posts a story basically calling me a liar regarding the hypodermic needles and crime along Thorndyke (which have been cleaned up in large part due to my efforts and the fantastic job by Seattle Police Department... even though I have dozens of pictures, video, and KIRO, KOMO, and Q13 did stories documenting it.

So when she asked me for another quote, I was thinking, "What is the point?!?!". It is not like she does not already have an agenda. Looking at this article just reasserts this truth. She falsely accuses the NSA of having something to do with my efforts and then has no idea why the map was up there.

GOOD JOB HEIDI! Walter Cronkite would be proud! LOL #NewsManufacturing
25
I live in one of the affected neighborhoods. The church up the street from me hosts homeless people living in their cars. I'm glad they do it and would never object to this type of service for people in need.

That said, I've also had the 'privilege' to live next to homeless people drugged out on meth and heroin who go around fighting with everyone and stealing whatever they can get away with. They're an entirely different type of 'homeless' and they're scary as hell when you live in an area with a 25 minute plus police response time. Everyone here that is calling out NIMBYS has apparently lead a VERY SHELTERED life. If you've never seen someone in meth or heroin withdrawl lose their shit and turn violent, it takes FAR LESS THAN 25 MINUTES that it takes for police to respond. And you know what the police say when they eventually amble on over to Ballard? GET A GUN - that's the official word of police on the street when NIMBY's are dealing with a violent psychotic meth addict.

The Stranger staff writers are apparently living in a bubble unaffected by addiction and mental illness. When you're actually living in areas with free range addicts it's different, and you definitely don't want it in your back yard. It would be nice if we had some intervention and treatment options, or a responsive police force but that isn't the case. So all we can do is live in fear that we'll need that gun. When seconds matter, SPD is 25+ minutes away.
27
What a backlash. The Stranger needs to get its shit together lately. Just like one side shouldn't lump homeless people together as a bunch of lazy drug addicts, the other side shouldn't lump them together as a bunch of down-on-their luck, hardworking people who just need a leg up. Neither is correct. There are bad homeless people and good homeless people.
28
Eckstein, I completely agree. Treat people as individuals. I have and always will make a distinction between the homeless and the criminals who hide among them.
29
The City has published a map of homeless encampments. Perhaps Ms Groover could go after the City as well...
30
@25, if SPD's advice to Ballard residents is to arm themselves, that speaks to how bad the situation has gotten.

I live in central Ballard, and over the past year, within a six-block radius of my home, we've had: several unsanctioned encampments occupied by heroin and meth addicts, rampant property crime (how do you think those folks feed their habits, Heidi?), a dead woman who OD'd and was stuffed in a shopping cart near the Ballard bridge by two upstanding gentleman living in an RV nearby (who have since been charged), ODs in bathrooms at least two establishments; a meth addict who punched a woman in the face, an unregistered sex offender living at the Ballard locks in a tent, tweaked-out campers who came out of the woods and chased a friend of ours while he was walking along the Burke-Gilman one evening, frequent open drug dealing and drug use at Ballard Commons park, addicts crapping on the streets, piles of trash and needles scattered around.

All of this is within a six-block radius of where I live. I don't know what kind of bubble you live in, Heidi, or whether you think the current situation is just fine, but most people don't, particularly those of use living in areas that are being hard hit by these issues.