Homelessness

A count of Oregon's homeless population shows a 6 percent increase in the number of people living in shelters or on the streets. The tally takes place every two years in January and is meant to be a snapshot of a specific point in time.

Elaine Thompson / AP

The City of Seattle is once again considering how to help people living in their cars and motor homes.

To find out more about the debate over the city's latest moves, The Seattle Times City Hall reporter Dan Beekman asked his colleague Vernal Coleman, who covers homelessness issues, to break it down.  They spoke for "The Overcast", The Seattle Times weekly politics podcast recorded at KNKX.


Will James / KNKX

Leaders in Tacoma are months into a citywide effort to address homelessness. 

Their next step: Hiring an artist. 

City officials are conducting a nationwide search for Tacoma's first artist-in-residence. Whoever gets the job will work specifically on issues related to homelessness.

Simone Alicea / KNKX

While some people use their back yard as a garden or a place for kids to play, one group in Seattle wants homeowners to consider another purpose for the space behind their homes: An opportunity to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness.

Will James / KNKX

A fee that funds services for homeless people in Washington state is scheduled for a large cut in 2023. 

Washington residents pay the $58 document recording fee when they buy a home or perform other real-estate transactions.

In five years, it's scheduled to shrink by more than half, to $28. That means a cut of tens of millions of dollars statewide for anti-homelessness programs. 

buzzlab / flkr/Creative Commons

The Presiding Judge of King County Superior Court says open air drug dealing and harassment outside the county courthouse in downtown Seattle has reached a crisis point. The court is asking that measures be taken to make the environment safer for jurors and other courthouse visitors.

Will James / KNKX

Tacoma officials are at a critical point in their new plan to manage homelessness.

This week, city leaders are attempting to move an entire encampment of homeless people to a new site overseen by the city, much of which will be covered by a gigantic tent.

That means convincing dozens of people to voluntarily pack their belongings, abandon their shelters, and accept the rules of the sanctioned encampment, located a mile away.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Like communities across the Puget Sound region, Bellingham and Whatcom County are struggling to deal with homelessness and housing affordability.

Bellingham city officials are hoping to address some of those issues in a June 13 town hall meeting. Residents have until Wednesday to submit questions beforehand about housing and homelessness.

"I think the main thing we're looking for is to open up the line of communication on one of the most pressing issues," said council president Michael Lilliquist.

Paula Wissel / KNKX

Seattle and King County have released a report on the area's homeless population that will be used by officials and service providers to determine how resources should be allocated.

The 2017 point-in-time count was taken on Jan. 27. Volunteers canvassing the county counted 11,643 people living outside, in cars, in emergency shelters and in transitional housing. 

Will James / KNKX

Tacoma officials' plan to reduce the impacts of homelessness on public health began this month with the installation of a water line and portable toilets at one of the city's largest encampments.

But those amenities are scheduled to be on-site for six weeks at most. City leaders are still figuring out exactly what happens next. 

Paula Wissel / knkx

In many ways, the region’s homeless crisis is very visible, from tents on sidewalks to panhandlers in the street. But, artist Xavier Lopez remembers feeling invisible when, as a 10 year old,  his family was homeless. His exhibit, "Hope/Home" runs through June 16 in Seattle's Municipal Tower in downtown Seattle.

Will James / KNKX

Water and bathroom facilities are making life a little more bearable for people who live in one of Tacoma's largest encampments of homeless people.

City officials installed a water line and spigot last week, along with a row of portable toilets and sinks, near a few dozen tents and makeshift shelters in Tacoma's tideflats.

It represents a shift in the way Tacoma leaders manage a growing homeless population. Instead of forcing people off vacant lots like this, they say they are trying to make conditions cleaner and safer while they work toward longer-term solutions. 

PAULA WISSEL / KNKX

Tacoma leaders are signaling a shift in strategy in their fight against homelessness.

City Council members passed a resolution Tuesday calling for an "emergency temporary aid and shelter program." They said it may involve providing trash pickup and sanitation services to homeless people living in encampments -- or even creating a sanctioned tent city for the homeless. 

Michael Treadwell sat at the back of a courtroom in New Hampshire. He wore a windbreaker and khaki pants and leaned over his work boots with his elbows on his knees. At first it looked like he was chewing gum — a bold choice in a courtroom. But when he spoke it was clear: He wasn't chewing gum, he was chewing his own gums. Michael doesn't have any teeth.

Taxpayers in Hillsborough County, N.H., have spent $63,000 over the last six years keeping Treadwell in jail for little more than trespassing.

Courtesty of The BLOCK Project

A Seattle organization wants people to open up their backyards to homeless people.

Facing Homelessness is managing the BLOCK Project, which aims to put 109-square-foot homes in backyards in residential neighborhoods around Seattle to help house the homeless.

PAULA WISSEL / KNKX

Pierce County's social services seem to be keeping pace with a growing homelessness problem, but they aren’t making headway.

That’s one conclusion from the county’s annual census of homeless people, the results of which were released this week. 

Tess Colby, who oversees Pierce County’s homelessness programs, said the county is getting better at moving people into housing.  

Will James / KNKX

Instead of a property tax to fight homelessness, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he will now pursue a countywide sales tax increase.

Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Monday that Seattle and King County will coordinate to provide homeless services. 

That effort includes a proposed 2018 ballot measure to increase the sales tax by 0.1 percent.

Will James / KNKX

Treating homeless people takes special training, but it's not something doctors, nurses, and other health care providers typically learn in school.

That's according to Lois Thetford, a physician's assistant with decades of experience working with the homeless. 

Will James / KNKX

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says the federal government isn't going to step in and help solve the city's homelessness crisis.

November's election, he said, made it clear that Seattle is on its own.

That's why he's asking city voters to approve $275 million in new property taxes over five years to invest in homelessness programs. He made what amounted to an opening pitch for the tax levy at a news conference Wednesday.

Photo courtesy of Seattle Symphony

Imagine what it would be like to find yourself without a roof over your head. It’s not easy to put yourself in those shoes. But what if you could experience homelessness by hearing and feeling it in music — the uncertainty and trauma, the hope, and the question of how to solve it?

Ashley Gross / KNKX

A new secretary of housing and urban development, Ben Carson, was sworn this week. Officials who help low-income people get housing in Seattle say it’s not clear how the new HUD secretary’s policies might affect this area. But one thing is certain -- there are many more people asking for federal help with housing than will receive it.  

Courtesy of Seattle City Council

Plans for a special homeless shelter in Seattle called the Navigation Center are underway now that the city has found a location.

The city announced yesterday that the center will occupy the Pearl Warren Building on 12th Avenue South and South Weller Street.

Paula Wissel / knkx

Seattle’s mayor has released new rules on how to clear encampments of homeless people. This comes as the city faces a class action claiming the current procedures are unconstitutional.

Paula Wissel / KNKX File Photo

Washington state will soon have the ability to tap federal Medicaid dollars to help chronically homeless people stay in apartments. 

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave state officials special permission  Jan. 9 to use Medicaid funds for certain aspects of a strategy called "permanent supportive housing."

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP

A class-action lawsuit claims city and state procedures for clearing away Seattle's homeless encampments are unconstitutional. 

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court in Seattle by two homeless women and two organizations that aid the homeless: the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and the Real Change newspaper.

Derek McNeill

Filmmaker Derek McNeill started with a question: What circumstances lead people to the roving Seattle homeless camp known as Nickelsville?

In mid-2015, he started looking for an answer.

McNeill took his camera to a Nickelsville community on Dearborn Street, where residents opened up about their lives before and after they entered the cluster of tiny houses and tents near I-5. People like a soft-spoken former engineer defied easy stereotypes of Seattle's homeless.

COURTESY OF THE NEW HOPE RESOURCE CENTER

Puyallup officials say they're cooperating with an investigation into proposed city regulations targeting the city's only resource center for the homeless.

U.S. Justice Department officials informed Puyallup leaders of the investigation in a Dec. 6 letter. The Tacoma News-Tribune first reported the investigation Thursday.

Courtesy of Seattle City Council

Plans to end homelessness in Seattle rely in part on an innovative homeless shelter called the Navigation Center.

Seattle officials touted the center as a creative, modern response to the city's homelessness crisis and initially hoped to open it by December 31. This fall, they said it was on track to open in January.

"jo0966.JPG" by Mark Goebel is licensed under CC by 2.0

An obscure $48 fee Washington residents pay for filing real-estate paperwork is one of the most important weapons in the state's fight against homelessness, housing advocates say.

They're preparing to fight for the fee's future during next year's legislative session in Olympia, as an approaching "sunset" provision threatens to shrink the fee to $18.

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