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Outsiders: Sound Effect, Episode 205

A tent and belonging in an unsanctioned homeless camp next to a basketball court in Pierce County.
Pierce County
Tents sit under a bridge in an unsanctioned homeless camp in Olympia.

Homelessness on the West Coast is rising to crisis levels at a time of historic economic growth and prosperity. In fact, Washington, Oregon and California are home to two-thirds of the nation’s unsheltered population.

KNKX Public Radio and The Seattle Times’ Project Homeless spent one year in a city that’s grappling with homelessness — Washington’s capital city, Olympia.  

The podcast series “Outsiders” aims to answer some of the most pressing questions about an increasingly visible issue within our communities.

This week’s episode of Sound Effect features Episode 3, in which we learn about how people ended up on the streets of Olympia. KNKX’s Will James, host of the podcast, talks with Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer about the complex factors that bend lives toward homelessness — from one-time catastrophic events that change everything in an instant, to compounded trauma that sets a course from the start.     

“Outsiders” is made with support from a 2019 National Fellowship at USC Annenberg's Center for Health Journalism, Studio to Be Seattle, and Jim and Birte Falconer of Seattle. Subscribe and listen to all the episodes at  

Kari Plog is a former KNKX reporter who covered the people and systems in Pierce, Thurston and Kitsap counties, with an emphasis on police accountability.