The only thing worse than being sleepless in Seattle? Being homeless. With limited resources available in the city and an exploding homeless population, the city has been trying to figure out what to do with all of them. For the time being, many have been living by the old adage and getting in where they fit in.
Unfortunately for them, the places they think they fit in are tired of seeing them. These small business owners have had enough of tents on their sidewalks, RV encampments, and tent cities on their roadsides. According to business owner JW Harvey in an interview with The Seattle Times, they are tired of it.
“Individual businesses and residents are putting ecology blocks out as taking matters in their own hands because if they call the city and say there are RVs out in front of their business or out in front of their home, they can’t do anything about it.”
Their response is rather genius. Without drawing a ton of attention to themselves, they have had “ecology blocks” or “eco-blocks” installed with special equipment outside of their residential homes and businesses. This prevents larger encampments from being able to be formed and keeps the homeless population as low as possible. With the city pausing parking enforcement during the pandemic, large RVs weren’t staying in the industrial area where they were permitted. They, instead, spread all over the city.
Given their boom in homelessness due to the pandemic, Seattle and King County grew to approximately 11,700 homeless in 2020. That works out to be just about 30 per 10,000. Along with that came a massive uptick in the tent city in the city’s urban center, where the encampment grew by 50%. With this boom, the numbers in 2022 jump up to 13,368 people. The idea of this being an almost “cute” problem has now completely vanished. In its place is resentment.
Resentment that the homeless are no longer just trying to find a way to survive, but rather that they are ok with their status in life and aren’t taking advantage of opportunities and programs being given to them. Instead, they are just taking whatever they can get their hands on or flipping for some quick cash and moving on.
Those in the bigger encampments like the West Seattle Health Club are doing whatever they can to get the encampments gone and eco blocks in their place. Working hand in hand with neighboring businesses, they want to ensure the RVs are gone and stay gone. Enter the eco-blocks.
Given the problems with vermin due to their food, drugs, and panhandling of customers just trying to pick up a salted nut log for the holidays, these people prevent the businesses from making sales and being able to stay open. So once these encampments are cleared, in comes the eco blocks.
It’s the same as installing wavy benches or studs on flat spots in the ground beneath the overhang of a business. Keeping the homeless from sleeping there is a huge priority for many.
The people of Seattle have been patient for long enough. While people initially started being okay with it, as the homeless have been chased off in one area, the same areas that were initially on board with it are now finding themselves inundated with people, and not knowing what to do next.
Ultimately, there is no good solution to the homeless problem here in the U.S. Everyone has a story, and while they try to shine a light on them and their story, unless the homeless truly want change and are ready to lose the baggage that got them there, they will be back homeless again within a year statistically. It’s a never-ending cycle, and it doesn’t get any easier for either side.
Add to the fact that the city of Seattle is just not bothering to help and it’s quite the mess. Welcome to what a liberal city really looks like!