Anyone living in Seattle would have to be living under a rock to have not heard about “The Jungle.”
The Jungle is a fairly large piece of vacant land under and around the highway south of downtown Seattle. While this post is about Seattle, it is a story that is playing out in most cities all around the country.
It is an area that has pretty much been taken over by the homeless. Driving along the highway, their encampments are easily visible.
This is not a political post about how pathetic this is, while indeed there is ample pathos to go around.
The pervasive attitude from people who seem to have no clue about how easily this could be them living under blue tarps and cardboard boxes, is these people should simply “get jobs” like any decent human being would do.
I am not even interested, at least in this post, in discussing all the various reasons that result in this being people’s lives in the 21st Century. In King County alone, somewhere around 4500 people live on the streets, and close to half of them are under the age of 17—just kids. Heartbreaking for any parent.
Politics and ignorance keep solutions in the realm of dreams and denial.
One of the things being considered is how to fence this area off, at a staggering cost, so that people cannot get into the area. How many methadone clinics could be set up and operated for the cost of such a fence?
I instead propose that all of this space be turned into a Homeless Park with campsites, portable toilets, running water, needle exchange boxes and police patrolled paths throughout. This would leave the door open to solutions instead of closing them.
Make it a safe place where people can be treated humanely and allow them to sort out their predicaments without being booted from one encampment to the next. Otherwise the title of this post could just as easily be: “Coming to a Doorway Near You.”
People seem to be delusional if they think excluding the homeless like rats, from one area, will mean the problem will cease to exist and won’t just pop up somewhere else.
The Jungle is just one small area of Seattle where this is happening as well. Take a good look at the steep wooded area on the east side of Queen Anne, and you will see dozens of similar campsites like the ones under the I-5 Bridge. And these are just the ones you can see.
There are similar areas at many of the small patches of woods along I-5 through the University District.
They are even present in the heavily wooded parks of Shoreline. Although, it seems that most are located closer to downtown charity services.
The Jungle is us.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board