Tensions flare as illegal homeless camps spread in Seattle | KNKX

Tensions flare as illegal homeless camps spread in Seattle

May 18, 2019

This story originally aired on April 28, 2018.   

Living in illegal homeless encampments can be dangerous and chaotic. This is what hundreds of people experience every day in Seattle. This minimal type of shelter can also involve a lot of moving.


Sound Effect’s Jennifer Wing recently visited the removal of an encampment under the Viaduct, across the street from the Washington State Ferry Terminal in downtown Seattle. The cleanup was being carried out by the city’s Navigation Team, the entity in charge of removals.


“This is our fourth time. So, in two years, it kinda sucks. It seems like the city just doesn’t care. I'm a  journeyman painter. I work seasonally, and I can’t afford an apartment all year round. So, if we had some affordable housing, we wouldn't be doing this,” said a man named Bill, who was packing up his tent and belongings.


But there is another perspective to consider: people with homes in close proximity to illegal encampments.


As Seattle spends $65 million on fighting homelessness this year, Linda Lowe in Wallingford wants the city to also think about the needs of homeowners.


Over the last year, two encampments have moved in, right behind Linda’s backyard.


“There’s a level of anxiety having a homeless camp on the other side of my hedge. It gets higher as the garbage grows,” said Linda.


In this story, we hear from Linda, who is tired of the drugs, the loud noises and trash piling up behind her house. We also hear from the some of the people living in these situations, and how they are frustrated by the dearth of affordable housing.