New Homeless Numbers Underscore Seattle's Failure to Serve People Living in Vehicles



Your headline implies the city has some sort of duty to "serve" people living in vehicles. It doesn't.


That encampment looks roomie and spacious compared to what's going on in California. Approaching favela status down there.



So, people living in vehicles aren't citizens? Many of whom work, pay taxes, and otherwise contribute to the local economy, but regrettably can't afford housing other than a vehicle? If serving the least among us isn't a primary duty of government, please tell us what IS in your opinion?


@3 The survey data shows that the overwhelming majority of homeless in Seattle are white males with a history of substance abuse problems and prior criminal convictions. What's led you to believe "many" of these individuals are contributors to the local economy?


Muddle through?



Doesn't mean they're not working. I know a few white males with drinking and/or drug problems (not sure about the criminal convictions) who still manage to hold down jobs. Spend a weekend evening on Capitol Hill, Fremont, or Belltown if you need examples.


"According to a tentative spending plan approved by the city council, between $850,000 and $1.1 million a year from the tax would fund 153 safe parking spaces and outreach to people living in vehicles."

The city previously determined that "safe spaces" (distinguished from "safe lots," which are way more expensive) cost $270 per vehicle per month. See, e.g.,

Using the city's prior figures, to provide "safe spaces" for all of the 2,279 persons counted as living in vehicles, we'd need to spend $7,383,960 annually. How is it possible that this can now be accomplished for just $850,000? I mean, that's a tenth of what we thought it would cost under the Murray administration.

What is happening here. Has someone actually figured out a way to eliminate 90% of the cost of addressing homeless persons living in vehicles?


Shoot, following up on my @7 I missed the part where we are only going to deal with 153 of the 2,279 of the persons living in vehicles. Sorry for the confusion.

Based on prior figures, that should only cost $41,310 ($270 *153). How'd we get to $1.1 Million?


@4 uhhhh... very dangerous line of thinking. If we're in the business of deciding, essentially, who's a civilian vs who is a citizen, based of "contribution to society", then we're REALLY going down the fascist path. I recommend you take some time and seriously consider what your political ideology is.


Homeless persons living in vehicles are a big part of our problem. Living in a vehicle gives the illusion of safety and security, while leaving the residents vulnerable. Vehicles also make illegal commerce easier. While we need to continue helping all homeless persons towards permanent shelter, we should not seek to “serve” those who are a disproportionate cause of our problems.

@7, @8: Someone’s made up numbers, because all of this money is going to be wasted anyway, so who cares?

@9: The argument isn’t over “who is a citizen,” but “who should we help?” There’s a big difference.


@10, watch that National Geographic doc on Seattle's drug problem that was on last night.


Number of RVs in Seattle more than doubled in 1 year. Maybe our attempts at “doing something” is inviting.


@10 My sister is recently homeless and living in her vehicle. She is also working part-time at a new job, and through her I've met a number of people living in cars who also work. None of them "look" homeless, and while some are in recovery they do not currently fit the active addict "drain on society" profile that I keep seeing people refer to in these online discussions. Yes: some people in vehicles commit crimes. But I'd venture to say that you may interact with other unhoused car-campers every day and never know it. Criminalizing vehicle dwelling would mostly hurt people like my sister who have the odds stacked against them and are doing the best they can in the face of pretty daunting situations.


@13: I hope we spend our tax money more wisely, and help your sister find a way back to permanent housing.

I see RV and camper-dwellers all of the time. They’re occupying parking spaces on the street around my office building, preventing my co-workers from parking there, or even from feeling safe whilst commuting. (Yes, our employer pays for Orca passports for many of us, and we have some on-property parking, but our inadequate public transport system means more of us must drive than our lot can hold.) Believe me, these people are not working, and not trying to get permanently housed, either.


@10 Same difference. If "who should we help" depends on "value to society", that's still basically a fascist opinion. imagine applying that question to sex workers.


@14 - "At this point Trump needs to declare a national homelessness emergency, activate the associated National Guard units and send them in to clean up this mess. "

Brilliant!! Send armed troops! They always fix everything.
And darn tootin' Trump will give more than just a single poop in his golden toilet about homeless people!
And yep, forcing them into military training is exactly what EVERYONE needs, right? Tough Love(TM).. Harsh Truth(TM).. More Punishment(TM).. until they Get Straight(TM).. and obtain Real Discipline(TM).

Because that's what homelessness is... a lack of discipline. Right?

It has nothing to do with exorbitant Medical Expenses (cause of 1/3rd of bankruptcies), or Minimum Wages below the cost of living, and increasing housing costs.

Naah, nothing like the winnier-take-all for-profit capitalist economy creating economic refugees whenever a corporations feels like shedding workers to boost their CEO or stockholder profits.

Blame the Poor! That way you don't have to take responsibility. Slacker.


Or housing foreclosures brought on by "Economic Crisis" (potentially manufactured)


@16: Apples remain not oranges, and a dog still has just four legs, even if you call the tail a leg.

(I get that name-calling people fascists is easier for you than trying to argue with them, though.)


@14 housed where? And where are we housing these national guard units while we're at it?


@19 Service Guarantees Citizenship!


Having the number of RVs used as residences double in just one year sits rather oddly with the claim about most of our homeless persons being “locals”.

Did the amount of untreated human waste dumped into the Sound via storm drains double as well, kayaktivist O’Brien?

(He has no plan to answer. Or, rather, he plans not to answer.)


I can see it on television and national new streams now: WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! PLEASE STAND BY: PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR A MESSAGE FROM LOCAL AUTHORITIES: (Jenny Durkan appears at the dais with a cadre of terrified robosuits) “We really dont know how the hemorrhagic fever spread through the city so quickly or its origin. We believe it started in a Starbucks bathroom and the CDC as well as state and federal authorities are on site to help contain the spread of the virus. We have all available resources working 24 hours a day to stem the spread of the disease. Limit contact with individuals you suspect may be ill. Hospitals are overloaded at the moment and portable medical facilities are being established throughout the city. If you or a loved one suspects infection, please call the number listed below. “1-800-YUR-SKRD”. Please stay in your homes unless you have the following symptoms: Fever, stomach pain, diarrhea, rash, uncontrollable bleeding from every orifice, ...”.


@13- I don't think people are asking to have vehicle dwelling per se criminalized. The issue is that a lot of the vehicle dwellers are doing so in ways that are becoming problems for others. I'd guess that the persons you are talking about who hold jobs etc. and no one realizes they are living in their cars are not leaving piles of garbage around, selling drugs, accumulating piles of stolen bikes, or any of the other things that have people in the areas where they re concentrated upset (not without justification). The frustration I am hearing from a lot of people (who are generally very liberal and have repeatedly voted for higher taxes to help the homeless, by the way) is that living in one's car is becoming carte blanche to violate any number of other rules/standards that the rest of us are expected to abide by.


@17 & @18 treacle: Thank you and bless you for so beautifully beating me to it on addressing Doofus in Shoreline's (@14's) continuously shameful level of ignorance.
@21 Sportlandia: Good. Then we veterans should be automatically exempt from having to kowtow to any further Trumpzillian stupidity.


@24: Thank you. It seems the broken-down RVs and camper vehicles have finally gone from behind my office building, and the attendant piles of garbage and other such wonders have gone as well. People who actually work nearby can now park there.


The answer is in contrarian thinking. If we really want to help, the city must cut back funding and services, not increase it. The people who can, will go elsewhere, the people who can't will have access to the services in more manageable numbers and less drain on everyone. I would venture to say that somewhere around half of these people are n ot from this city, nor from King County. We owe them nothing. Let them go back to whence they came and force the civic leaders of those towns to fix their mess.


Sidenote: I believe these next local elections will be the first since switching from at large voting to district voting. We have had some time to see now that only a couple of representatives are actually representing the needs and wants of their constituents, most are still strictly adhering to their personal ideologies as if they were still at-large electeds. (I know a couple are actually elected at-large, as city representatives) Local politics is about to get very interesting. On the one side, you have people like Harrell who is at least paying lip service to his community. You have Sawant who could be council member for life if she wanted then you have someone like O'Brien, who his district is furious with but blindly sticks to his personal ideology, which in effect is hurting the people of his district, he admits to this and just ignores the voters wishes.He is very vulnerable.


"When Council Member Mike O'Brien proposed a partial solution—exempt people living in vehicles from tickets and towing for one year if they enroll in a program to connect them to services—the effort faced backlash and stalled out in council process."

The head tax would provide funding for not only providing special tags to exempt RV campers for parking enforcement, but also free fuel, free insurance, free blackwater pumping, free repairs, and free towing to a new location if the vehicle is irreparable. This will cost the city millions. We will be force to subsidized RVers who often use their "homestead" to sell drugs, victimize women, and cook meth. These things catch fire pretty regularly as well.

Furthermore, what do you suppose the net effect will be once word gets out? Do you think we will have more derelict RV's? Or less? We shouldn't give the city council another dime until they stop enabling this crap.


I say we round up the billionaires and set them up in camps. Their homes could be used for the people that need decent shelter and this would be a great service to our communities. This could be very educational for them right? Of course we would be humanitarian and provide sanitation services such as garbage pickup and restrooms. Of course they would have work to do.

If they don’t like it they could move to a different country where they would be less drain on people here that are paying for their services. Many of them are not from here anyway and their places of origin could clean up their messes.


We may have to ask the national guard to help because its quite likely these very privileged people will not want to cooperate.