Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Seattle's Night of the Living Homeless

I grew up loving my home city, Seattle Washington. In the early 90s, was always a treat going downtown to the Pike Place Market, Ye Ole Curiosity Shop or take the bus up to the University District. Nirvana and Pearl Jam echoed through every car stereo. Me and my friends could hang out, enjoy the city at any of our small coffee shops. Those were the days before Starbucks had completely taken over the world. But things changed since high school - drastically changed
homeless street fight

Now, anytime I go downtown some "nice" person starts up a conversation with me. "Hey, how are you doing. Weather is great today."

I respond, "yes, unusually nice weather today." 

What comes next....."Do you have a couple dollars to spare?" Ug! How I  hate this. Can't I just go somewhere without being bothered? Oh, wait....wanting something like that would make ME the bitch.

 Seattle's homeless act all friendly, start a conversation then start begging for money. Yeh, this is annoying, but not nearly as annoying as the homeless cat calls. Heaven forbid - I complain about homeless cat calling me...and I am being the bitch.

On one occasion, a mentally deranged homeless man tried to actually punch me. He had a crazy look in his eyes, lunged at me, I ducked, then he wandered off into the fog. I've also seen crazy homeless people screaming at random people waiting for the bus. 

Give the homeless a $20 bill, and they will ask for more. Then, more and more homeless with come when they realize people are generous. Seattle is a great city for the homeless because our City Council care's more about them than people like me, cat called by homeless men, or the victims of stolen bikes worth thousands of dollars, or the people who have to step over piles of shit on their way to work, or the people who need to use light rail elevators filled with flies and the stench of urine. Remember - if you complain about your bike being stolen, cat called, smelling urine in elevators - then YOU are "the bitch.

 December 2007, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a measure prohibiting malicious harassment of a homeless person as a hate crime. I am wondering - is it a hate crime when they cat call me on the street? Is it harassment when they constantly beg for money? Doesn't the Seattle City Council think that people just want to live a quite peaceful life in what was once the most beautiful city on the West Coast?

When my husband bikes to work everyday, he has to cycle past mountains upon mountains of make-shift street boxes, tents and hundreds of people in sleeping bags. Homelessness is a huge problem in our city. What pisses me off about this situation is that if we have the "audacity" to complain about it, we are just being heartless assholes. Now here is the interesting part - Did you know most of Seattle's homeless are not actually from Seattle? Hmmm, I wonder what is bringing them all here? Oh, that's right, a City Council that are a bunch of pansies, that's what's bringing them here. Uh oh.....did I just become.."the bitch" again? Well, yes, that last sentence was bitchy for which I do accept responsibility. But nonetheless, it was a true statement. 

dismantled bikes found in homeless camps
The homeless go around the city, steal bikes (some of them worth thousands of dollars) dismantle them, sell the parts or sell them on craigslist. Now remember - if you lose a 2000 bike and complain about the homeless who stole it - you are being a selfish dick. How dare you complain about losing THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. 

The problem is that many of these homeless people are on drugs or severely mentally ill. How did we get in this mess? 

Well, lets roll back the clock to November 1980. One month prior to the election, President Carter had signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which had proposed to continue the federal community mental health centers program, although with some additional state involvement. Consistent with the report of the Carter Commission, the act also included a provision for federal grants “for projects for the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of positive mental health,” an indication of how little learning had taken place among the Carter Commission members and professionals at NIMH. 

Shortly after assuming office in early 1977, Jimmy Carter created a presidential commission on mental health. His action suggested the existence of deep-rooted problems in a mental health system that was fragmented, lacked cohesion, and often failed to meet the needs of many groups, notably those individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses. The creation of such a commission also had an important symbolic element, for it indicated the president's awareness and concern.

With President Reagan and the Republicans taking over, the Mental Health Systems Act was discarded before the ink had dried and the CMHC funds (Crisis Mental Health Counseling) were simply block granted to the states. The CMHC program had not only died but been buried as well. An autopsy could have listed the cause of death as naiveté complicated by grandiosity.
President Reagan understood mental illness as well as he understood AIDS, moreover, he didn't want to understand. Regan started shutting down mental hospitals from the gulf stream waters to the red wood forests. Carter's policies were dead and buried. California was the first state to witness not only an increase in homelessness associated with deinstitutionalization but also an increase in incarceration and episodes of violence. Mentally ill people end up in jail or on the streets - all because of Regan. Since then, nobody has cared enough to reopen mental institutions. All we seem to think about is "feed the homeless, be nice to the homeless and 'you're a bitch if you complain about the homeless'".
But who, specifically, played some of the more important roles in the formation of this ill-fated policy? What motivated these influential people and what lessons are to be learned?
A detailed picture has emerged from a series of interviews and a review of public records, research reports and institutional recommendations. The picture is one of cost-conscious policy makers, who were quick to buy optimistic projections that were, in some instances, buttressed by misinformation and by a willingness to suspend skepticism.
Every year more and more homeless people are migrating to Seattle. Why? Tell me why our city has to smell like urine? Why do our people have to deal with this every day they go to work? Why aren't the homeless in mental institutions and rehab centers? Our city has turned into a big pile of shit. But remember - you are a dick if you complain about the urine, begging, thief, screaming crazy people, fights and vomit. 
It is easy to complain about things, and not so easy to propose solutions to the problem. Here are the solutions. 
First: shut down all the downtown missions. I know this seems heartless, but shifting the population to appropriate facilities is the first step.
Second:  reopen mental institutions, permanent institutionalization for people with schizophrenia, severe PTSD, schizoid personality disorders, and severe mental retardation. These disorders are often combined with drug and alcohol abuse. These people cannot help themselves and need to be permanently institutionalized. Mental institutions need to be clean, safe places. DSHS should provide medications, and any weekly group therapy.
Third: Housing should only be for the working homeless, homeless families, and homeless elderly.

Forth: Drug using, alcoholic homeless should not be in the same housing as working homeless, families and elderly. They should have shelter - not housing. They need to be in their own facilities, and access to treatment services. 
Fifth: All homeless shelters should be a significant distance from downtown Seattle, including a public garden and small orchard. The building should be at least six floors full of assigned bunkbeds. Each floor has a set of showers, and toilet. Each floor has a small kitchen, TV room, laundry room and locker room. There should also be a strict personal hygiene policy, every guest should be required to be clean and shampooed every day. Seattle is losing tourism, and businesses are suffering. There are countless reasons to revitalize our area north of SoDo to Union Square.
Sixth: Unemployed, non-mentally ill homeless should be required to do volunteer work. Laundering, cleaning, cooking, gardening, and canning. A lot of money saved when unemployed homeless pitch in to help these shelters, psychiatric wards, and working homeless survive. If the unemployed homeless want a bed, shower, and kitchen then they must volunteer.

As much as I dislike the homeless pestering me, cat calling me, and stealing, I know that my proposals are in the best interest of the homeless and the City of Seattle. These are real solutions to a problem Seattle refuses to fix. Jimmy Carter knew the problem was complex, and we should approach these problem understanding those complexities as well.

Seventh: As unpopular as this final opinion is, feeding the homeless, and all public loitering should be heavily penalized. Any people loitering in downtown parks should be removed and taken to a shelter or jailed. Cleaning up downtown Seattle should also be our top priority.

That being said - will the city of Seattle think about my proposals? Will they do the right thing? Will they stop being a bunch of pansies? Probably not. The images you see below will get worse, and worse and worse. 
I would like to welcome you to Seattle Washington. 

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