Outsiders | KNKX

Outsiders

Adrian Florez / KNKX

This series started with Jessica. We find out what happened to her.

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Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In early 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic, KNKX and The Seattle Times' Project Homeless team joined forces to make Outsiders, a documentary-style podcast that gave listeners a close-up view of unsheltered homelessness.

Seven months later, Outsiders is back with a three-episode finale that seeks to answer some of the questions the podcast laid out in the beginning.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Olympia’s response to homelessness defied conventions. Did it work? A year later, we look at the city’s results and whether they point to a way forward.

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

Stay tuned for a three-episode finale that completes the story we started telling you early this year. The first of those episodes drops Oct. 7.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

When the novel coronavirus outbreak hits Olympia, it arrives in the middle of a "state of emergency" around homelessness. What happens to people surviving outside when the government says to stay at home? This crossover episode with the KNKX podcast Transmission looks at the effects of the pandemic on the homeless population. 

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For more dispatches from a COVID-19 "hot spot," subscribe to Transmission by KNKX.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Does something about Olympia attract desperate people from all over? We examine the “magnet theory” of homelessness.

Inside Outsiders

Mar 11, 2020
Adrian Florez / KNKX

The Outsiders team holds a live event to explain how we made the series and what we learned. We answer listeners’ questions: Are some people homeless by choice? After a year of reporting, do we feel society is any closer to solving homelessness?

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Episode 6: The Bridge

Mar 4, 2020
Adrian Florez / KNKX

Homelessness divides Olympia and forces people to re-examine their politics. Emotions converge on an encampment under the Fourth Avenue Bridge.

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Ramon Dompor / The Seattle Times

Sam Miller is a husband, a father of two, and a comedian with a growing following in the Puget Sound region.

But, a little over a decade ago, he was homeless in downtown Olympia, struggling with addictions to alcohol and methamphetamine.

The story of Miller’s fall into homelessness and substance use, and his journey back out, is featured in Episode 5 of Outsiders, a podcast about homelessness by KNKX and The Seattle Times’ Project Homeless team.

Episode 5: Let's Dance

Feb 26, 2020
Adrian Florez / KNKX

Sam Miller can help us understand how addiction and homelessness intersect because he’s lived them both. Plus he can make us laugh. He points to one reason he was able to overcome homelessness while many others get trapped.

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Tents sit under a bridge in an unsanctioned homeless camp in Olympia.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

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.  

Allen, who lives outside in Olympia, stands in the city's so-called "mitigation site," a sanctioned homeless camp.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Allen doesn’t present like the typical resident of a homeless encampment.

“He’s not struggling with the type of addictions that you often see. He’s not struggling with severe mental illness,” says Vianna Davila, editor of the Project Homeless team at The Seattle Times. “He’s known as kind of a cook, chef, around the mitigation site.”

The mitigation site is a sanctioned camp in Olympia — the center of a podcast series by Project Homeless and KNKX Public Radio called “Outsiders,” hosted by KNKX’s Will James.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Despite Olympia’s efforts, hundreds of people remain in unsanctioned camps around the city. They invent ways to stay alive and help each other survive.

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Olympia's sanctioned tent city, known as the "mitigation site," as seen on Jan. 8, 2020.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

In late 2018, the number of tents in downtown Olympia swelled from around 30 to more than 300 in about a three-month period.

It was an extreme example of what cities up and down the West Coast have wrestled with during the post-recession years: unprecedented levels of visible, unsheltered homelessness.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

How did people end up on the streets of Olympia? Some can point to a catastrophe that bent their lives toward homelessness. For others, it almost seemed like life was moving in that direction from the very beginning.

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ADRIAN FLOREZ / KNKX

The rise of homelessness in Olympia looked different depending on where you were standing. To many people, it swept over the city like a storm in a matter of weeks. But a few could see the pressure building for decades.

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ADRIAN FLOREZ / KNKX

KNKX and The Seattle Times’ Project Homeless team invite you to "Inside 'Outsiders:' What one city can teach us about homelessness" on March 3, 2020 at Town Hall Seattle. At "Inside 'Outsiders,'" we'll explore issues and questions covered in the podcast "Outsiders" and hear from the people who made it.

Episode 1: The Rain

Jan 29, 2020
Adrian Florez / KNKX

The West Coast's homelessness crisis arrives in Olympia, Washington. City leaders scramble to respond, and wonder if they can succeed where larger cities have failed. People trying to survive outside face a choice: whether to set aside years of distrust and go along with the city’s plans. 

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Adrian Florez / KNKX

  

As part of our conversations for KNKX Connects to Olympia, we’ve heard lawmakers talk about homelessness as a priority for this 60-day session. It’s a growing issue in many parts of our state, not just cities. But it is perhaps most visible there.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Everyone wants to tell a story about homelessness. But it’s not just one story:

“I was a mom who wasn’t prepared to lose anything. And I lost everything.” 

“I had pictures on my wall and I had carpet between my toes. Now I don’t get that.”

“People are dying out here in the cold.” 

And homelessness isn’t just one thing. So, KNKX Public Radio and The Seattle Times Project Homeless team have partnered on Outsiders, an in-depth podcast series to help you understand what’s actually happening.

Adrian Florez / KNKX

Homelessness on the West Coast is rising to crisis levels at a time of historic economic growth and prosperity. Why? KNKX Public Radio and The Seattle Times' Project Homeless spent one year in a city that’s grappling with homelessness. What’s it like to live outside for months on end? What’s it like when tents come to your neighborhood? What new solutions can city leaders find?

This is Outsiders.

Outsiders is available wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe now so you don't miss the first episode debuting Jan. 29.