Seattle Needs a Slum



Isn't that what Lake Shitty Way is?


I’d settle for a recession.

@1, was. Getting less affordable by the day.


I have lived in Lake City for over 15 years now and I admit when I first moved here I could leave my doors unlocked and come home later and no one would break in. Maybe I was lucky

Now I pay almost 1600/month for a 2bedroom average of 350-450$ for power and I have rats ... at least not in my apartment specifically but if they are living outside in the blackberry bushes why wouldn't they try to break into the building given the chance and opportunity.

There's last neighbor that moved out threw out their couch and chairs, dresser and other sorts of things printer/scanner) paint cans and other hazardous materials just sitting out in the sun next to the recycle bin. The maintenance staff has started throwing more trash into this pile only making it bigger.

Oh and the Raccoon family's it's scary to watch a family of them walk up to your front door with their claws out like they expect you to feed them.

Landlord doesn't bother trying to maintain this building any more the plant overgrowth is getting taller than the building and you know what the city will do? the same thing the did to the last slum lord that they shut down making everyone move out.

... I'll try and save up while they will try and raise my rent again this year even though they don't do a damn thing. New tenant moves in with a dog and he doesn't even tell them that he has a dog and they might have asked for a deposit. I lived in Denver and we would kick a tenant out for that.

So yes Seattle has it's own slums Lake City is just one of them don't think we are the only though.


A slum is clearly the free-market answer. Why won't all these "urbanists" that pray only to the gods of supply-and-demand just embrace the logical endpoint of their philosophy? They want capital unfettered, yet people restricted. They allow money to destroy anything it pleases, but not allow a person to sleep in an empty lot. They say: "Seattle is only for those that have earned it." What a strange idea of freedom.


Federal Way...


@5 Not the parts on the water. Some lovely mid-century homes down there. I think you’re thinking of the parts with regular gun fire.


@1: I find it refreshing that Charles has (in all but the word itself) become openly pro-favela. Maybe soon he’ll be openly pro-crime, too:

“They are not aimless or criminal.”

All of those bicycle parts were donated by their rightful owners! They are not sold to buy drugs!!


Good Afternoon Charles,
First of all, a correction. France had no "Third Empire". It had a Second Empire from 1848-1870. And the Third Republic was from 1870-1940.

I get your point. No, I don't believe Seattle needs a slum. Someone on SLOG has argued we already have them. Fixed, as in Lake City. And on the other hand, one could argue we have mobile slums (tent cities uprooted and RVs relocated). Indeed, the entire city is looking like a slum. I was in Pioneer Square Sunday and was disturbed by its appearance and deterioration. It is far worse there than 5-10 years ago.

But Seattle won't be getting a slum. I just believe that real estate in the city is too valuable and rents too high. Seattle isn't Detroit. The latter had a breakdown in a major manufacturing base, the auto industry and "white flight". The former never had either. In fact, folks still want to come to Seattle. Detroit not so much.

That's my understanding. For there to be a solution to the Homeless Crisis, the homeless must be part of the solution as well as the city. Correct, the homeless aren't criminal. But some accountability on their part would be helpful.


Close to your home, Charles, on the old Empire Way, is a mosque.

It is an old, nondescript single-story building badly in need of a paint job, surrounded by asphalt succumbing to weeds. It looks, if anything, like it has been abandoned for years. You could drive or even walk past it a thousand times without seeing it. But it is a place full of people, day and night.

Go to this place. Talk to these people. Ask them, after a while, to show you where they live.

Seattle has several slums, but this one is right under your nose, Charles. It is the city's slum for people from the other Africa, the Africa you did not grow up in. These are not the favored sons and daughters of professors and government officials, these are the sons and daughters of refugees. These are the African poor. These are African Muslims. These are people you were carefully, lovingly kept away from as a little boy.

When you go for your next rambling walk from your very own home in Columbia City, do not walk in your usual directions. Do not walk west up the hill, out of the valley. Do not walk north to the shopping centers. Do not walk east to the parks and the lake.

Walk south.


Fuuuuck. Charles, I -lived- in a ghetto, that would probably meet your definition of a slum, and I have been to enough other countries and places that aren't exactly cities in this country to know what a real slum is. Even in my "slum lite" there were gunshots outside my window around once a year for the four years I lived there. Oh, and if you think Seattle housing prices are rediculous, I assume you have not really looked at other cities enough to realize even slum housing prices won't help the homeless... which actually is pretty obvious from your "Seattle has all the problems and other places have all the solutions" attitude. Slums aren't just low price housing, they are violent hell holes where nobody outside cares and nobody inside can escape. Informal prisons that destroy value systems and encourage any means to survive, but don't have connections for people to thrive, to live "healthy, happy and productive lives", and that have, somewhat by design, mere mockeries of the public services available in a normal city such as parks, schools, medical centers, and open commerce... or the rule of law. Oh, and even grocery stores. Slums are food deserts, so of course the people who can't afford to drive to get food don't have any available in walking distance. "Solving" the homeless crisis with slums is one step away from "solving" it with eugenics and you should be completely fucking ashamed of yourself.

The city absolutely needs a solution for affordable housing. Rounding people up, or squeezing them out of viable alternatives, and simply dumping them in the toilet is one of the few things worse than the current non-solution though.

Personally, I think that, if the city had a service that just helped anyone, regardless of proven need, get through the hoops to find housing appropriate to their needs, it would help a lot. And when the city actually has high-speed, high capacity connections to places with more options for lower cost housing, people will feel less of a squeeze. Finally, when we stand up and actually say most of the criminals are not homeless and most of the homeless are criminals, we might actually find ourselves able to solve both problems without being held hostage to a few assholes. Also, let's acknowledge, as a city, that someone tent camping on the pier didn't run put of options, they decided to get in people's face in the most obnoxious way possible. We don't need to feel bad for them, we need to tell them to leave.


Most of the homeless are NOT criminals. Damn this site needs an edit function.


@14 It wasn't a failure of governance, it was simple demographics.

If you find an American city today that still has a lot of cheap, run-down housing stock available, go find a population graph for that city-- I'll bet you $50 the population peaked sometime in the '60s and hasn't yet surpassed the old high.

Seattle, on the other hand, is currently 30% above its 1960 peak. You can't predict that kind of growth. Nobody predicted Microsoft or Amazon. Local government has no choice-- it has to be reactive. You can't set up a program to build 100,000 units of empty housing just because a scraggly guy in a DeLorean made an offhand remark about needing them 30 years from now.


Charles, I hope this article just spurs people to work harder for social housing. If it's a choice between social housing and slums, then I hope people will organize more for making the wealthy pay their fair share and building the homes we need at all income levels.

I look forward to more articles about social housing from you.


Charles, you have a candidate for city council who is running on bold, massive-scale social housing. Scott. Write some articles about why Alex Pederson will just make the housing crisis worse. (You could consider this article for the aim, but it doesn't name him...)


Perfectly said.


Seattle people..... SMH. Most cities have a slum/ghetto.


As the article states. Seattle does not have one (btw Federal Way nor Lake City is a slum). Try to compare those places to the slums in LA County.

Seattle needs to fix it's zoning issues. The "Not in my back yard folks" need to learn to compromise if they want to have any mind on this issue. You need a slum within the city. Not 25 miles out of the city limits.

If Seattle does not realize and take action on this issue.... Then they will continue to FAIL


@20 Relying on zoning to create affordable housing requires the "Not in my back yard folks" to voluntarily convert their own single family home parcels to low-income multi-unit housing. Why on earth should we expect that outcome?


@3 There is no way your power bill is $350-400 for a two-bedroom apt. Either that includes water/sewer/garbage, or your landlord is pulling a fast one.

And get real, folks, Lake City is not even close to being a slum. Lakewood, maybe.


Seattle has destroyed about 20,000 units of low income housing since 1960. That is a significant cause of the problem.


Roughly half the homeless are transplant drug seekers who flock here because our police look the other way for meth and heroin possession and our general culture of pathological altruism that has turned most of the city into a slum, regardless of housing costs.


dcdzul dear, thank your for that. It's important to hear from the right-wing crazies, and you put a particularly whiny victim spin on it.

Back on Planet Earth, Seattle is the Disneyland of cities. But if you need to find a slum, try the to the east of Kent-Des Moines Road, and Pac Highway. It's pretty bleak.

And for the rest who are complaining about the city not allowing dumps, google the Ozark Hotel fire. City Government's actions in the aftermath were with the best of intentions, but it had some serious unintended consequences.


I also agree that it's important to hear from the right wing crazies, so you can properly identify who is speaking from empirical witness who happens to align with your political stripes versus what is groundless propaganda.


I also have lived in the slums all my life, had a stint living in a car, and am not unfamiliar with the monumental amount of work it takes to rise from that to sustainability here, let alone success. That being said, it's the drugs.


Has Charles Mudede been diagnosed with mental illness or is he just the Seattle liberal's favorite Marxist?


Source for claims btw:


Well what do you know, the author for that publication is a member of the "Discovery Institute," a conservative Seattle think tank. It's good to know what claims I am ironically co-opting. Thank you for challenging my talking points, although the CJ publication itself is not necessarily right-leaning. As such, I entertained its claims but now will give them better scrutiny.


Of course, the common denominator of drugs is pain.


@22 I get the mailer every other month shaming me about how much power we use. Yes I agree it's likely due to too many water heaters hooked up to my utility bill however when I point out the 3 water heaters next to their stacked washer and dryer in an illegal hookup they don't really care to fix it.

So saving up money and working on moving

Additionally there are no tree's covering or shading the house in anyway what so ever; we had a large bush that would shade side of the house but it was removed because it was hiding a rat problem. There was another tree shading that side of the house but it was cut down by a previous tenant.

Really plum spot if they let me put some solar panels on the roof but why when you rent?


dumnogenus Dear, if the common are water heaters are indeed hooked up to your meter, city law says that the bill must go into the landlords name until it is resolved. They can go back as far as eight years.


Thank you Mr. Mudede for my morning dose of cold yet nuanced sarcasm. Heavy sigh.


I agree. I nominate Columbia City to be our slum. Specifically the 16 square blocks centered around Charles' house.

We'll bulldoze everything currently there and build a bunch of tall brutalist apartments like the great Chicago projects of old, and make sure to leave plenty of empty gravel lots with barbed wire fencing. Maybe we can even build a drainage ditch and fill it with old tires and trash. Not to actually drain anything, mind you... just for the aesthetic.

Of course, people are so desperate to come live in Seattle that you might still get bright young entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors and Ph.D students wanting to live there and willing to tolerate the artificially deplorable living conditions. This is not what we want! If you allow them in, they will displace the junkies, gangsters and baseball-bat murderers. Soon they'll start cleaning up the streets, opening new businesses and restaurants, and before you know it your perfectly-designed slum will have a kitschy new Trader Joe's and a craft brewery. Gross!

So you'll need to make it awful enough to scare the cool kids off. I suggest some classic shocking, front-page favela crime, like hacking a guy's limbs off and burning him to death. Or maybe you can have regularly-scheduled riots. If you can't think of anything else, just lock down the slum, withdraw all law enforcement, and recreate the Purge movies every three months or so.


Many years ago, when they were working on I-90 and planning on putting a highway where MLK Way is now, the state bought up all sorts of property around Judkins park, and then just boarded most of it up. The intersection of 23rd and Jackson was empty. Just vacant lots after some arson incidents.

Then the plans changed, and the neighborhood was named "Rejected". You would actually see buses downtown with "Judkins Park - Rejected" on their front sign.

That was pretty slummy.


Catalina, the city can go back eight years?

At $100-plus dollars a month (plus interest?!)
that could turn out to be ... a pretty nice little pile.


No interest kristofarian dear - just a straight refund. It's not the city's fault that the wiring was goofy. That's all the landlord's problem.


There are pocket slums left. They exist as singular apartment buildings and rented houses. The renters get a below market cost usually at the expense of living with black mold or leaky pipes and no water pressure. My rent is $1200, I have 700sf and I have a parking spot included and no pet fees. In comparison, the apartment complex next door to me is renting one beds at $2100 for only 500sf and loads of fees and deposits. Last night I woke to watering dripping into my closet, soaking everything in questionable water. In the winter I have to keep the place heated so I don't get mold. I work hard for this and it's above my comfort level, yet it's definitely a slum. You just have to really look hard to find them, and in turn, be desperate enough to live in these shitty conditions.