In many American cities, there's a growing crisis of homelessness. The highest rates are on the west coast. Suffering one of the worst problems is Seattle: home of the high tech boom and a city once considered a jewel. Correspondent Eric Johnson, of Sinclair station KOMO in Seattle reported on the issue in an hour long special called 'Seattle is Dying.' Here's an excerpt.
Let me ask you something what if Seattle is dying and we don't even know it? This story is about a seething, simmering anger that is now boiling over in to outrage. It is about people who have felt compassion yes, but who no longer feel safe, no longer feel like they are heard, no longer feel like they are protected.
It is about lost souls who wander our streets, untethered to home or family or reality chasing a drug which in turn chases them. It is about the damage they inflict on themselves to be sure, but also on the fabric of this place where we live. This story is about a beautiful jewel that has been violated, and a crisis of faith amongst a generation of Seattleites falling out of love with their home. There is another part of this story too: it's about a solution, an idea for a city that has run out of them.
And I ask again, what if Seattle is dying and we don't even know it?
Matt Campbell: I drive my 12-year-old's carpool through Yesler when we do carpool, and it's a good talking point about what they're seeing, what we can do to help you know how we can make a difference and honestly at this point, I don't have a good answer for how we can make a difference. In the last five to ten years, it's not the place that I grew up in, and it's been really sad.
Matt Campbell lives and works in Seattle. He's raising a family and like many others, he's mad.
Campbell: It's gotten to a point where I'm embarrassed of it, I don't wanna have my friends and family come here anymore
People didn't used to use the word "embarrassing" about Seattle, but if you listen closely, you'll hear it a lot now.
Campbell: It's embarrassing. This is one of the most beautiful regions in the entire world, and right now for lack of a better word it looks like s***, and it's embarrassing.
This is Mehrdad Derakhshandeh. He runs an upholstery shop in Ballard near the Gilman Trail. See if you can't feel his frustration.
Derakhshandeh: This is this is this is just a bunch of this is not right!
Out of his window, he looks at this.
Derakhshandeh: "Oh they're human," yes I'm human too.
Customers who come into his shop see the same thing.
Derakhshandeh: I have known cops from Compton, Watts, South Central they have some power in their hands. Here you just a bunch of twinkle toes running around here. What the heck. Because they run the city like that. They're having problems, they're having problems they're not having enough authority.
Last May 2nd at a town hall meeting in Ballard, simmering anger boiled over in to all-out rage.
Councilwoman: So why do we see so many people living outdoors?
Speaker 1: Will you manage the camps and will you enforce the law? (Cheering)
There has evolved a profound disconnect, and rarely has it been more vividly laid out than in this exchange.
Councilman: If property crime is committed, violence is committed, you need to call 911 (Booing)
Speaker 2: You've lost all credibility when you say you said two words, you said "call 911." Do you understand that the police have told us to vote you all out so that they can do their jobs? (Cheering)
Speaker 2: You're telling us "call 911?" You're smiling! You think it's funny? You think it's funny the way we're living?
"The way we're living." In beautiful Seattle, people are angry, furious about the way we are living.