Seattle has been a problem with aggressive panhandling for decades. The news media portrays how downtrodden the Seattle homeless are. We are made to feel sorry for them, lend a helping hand, and engage in activism. Granted many people hit hard times in their lives, and most never asked for poverty. The issue is the Seattle homeless attitude towards the city residents they are around. No one can say these poor souls are angels. That is until one has a near miss with a homeless man who thinks he has the balls to rob someone. That is until they start yelling in a public library creating civil disorder. That is until one until one sits on the light rail, and observes a homeless man sexually disrespecting a woman passenger. How about when they come up to your face, obviously under the influence, and DEMAND money? The conclusion that is being come to, with the Seattle homeless crisis, is most all these beggars are from other parts of the country. They come here as "prospectors." Seattle promises a $15/hour minimum wage in 2017. 99% of these homeless do not have the skills to perform the jobs, and long ago fried their brain cells out with hard core drugs.They promise a ton of social benefits with transportation, food, clothing, etc. Has anyone given the thought all these homeless coming to Seattle have a long laundry list of criminal convictions, drug abuse, and mental illness? There is a solution to the homeless crisis in Seattle. However it may be very unpalatable. If they don't want to act like decent citizens; GET OUT OF OUR CITY! The people of Seattle dealt with these malcontents before in the late 70's and early 80's. When the dust settled, not even the street lawyers dared take up their case. That is why Seattle has stricter laws over aggressive panhandling today, besides a few other remedies :)
I've lived in Flint, MI in the Eastside (the State Street/Gang area), and spent time in Detroit, NYC, and many cities in Europe. Granted, this was prior to 1999. I moved to Seattle in 1999 and Seattle was LOVELY and AWESOMELY beautiful in '99. There were a few beggers in Pioneer Sq.- but they were very mellow. There were also a few homeless - but you rarely saw them... NOW...17 years later you can't go a block without seeing a person who's suffering from the homeless issue. BUT you also can't go a block without seeing a new giant sky-scraping apartment complex being built - one where a studio will cost at least $1900/month & a 2 bedroom apartment averages $4650/month. Yes, minimum wage is currently $12/hr - but do the math people..... that $12/hr isn't paying even half of a 2 bdrm apt. I speak as someone who is switching careers from IT to social work after 20 yrs.... what can I say... I like helping people more than seeing my work overwritten every couple of months. Yet social work pays about $15/hr.... gosh... guess I'll be living in one of those tents soon if I want to not travel more than an hour to work every morning...
Oh... BTW... 30% of the homeless people you see in Seattle work part-time or more, or else are full-time college students....
Don't judge a city and the homeless based on the few who are a**wipes...., yes, a few of the homeless have reached the point of being *severely* annoying... they are few & far between (and the majority of them belong to the 'mental issues' group which WA state has decided to stop treating completely - feel free to contact the King County officials: http://www.kingcounty.gov/elected.aspx. Or the people you're running into could be the ones currently hyped up on meth... sorry - not everyone's mellowed out on our legal drugs here yet :-)
But seriously Seattle ... it's NOT dangerous!!! This is coming from someone who's walked by Seattle's "Jungle" and through a huge mass of tents down thru SODO at 5am every morning for almost a decade. If you feel nervous feel free to take some pepper spray or a taser with you (unlike Michigan, both are cheap & completely legal here!)
The BIGGEST danger here in Seattle is walking around LOOKING like a clueless victim... please... know where you're going before you leave your hotel (we all have cell phones nowadays)... don't walk around flaunting that you have a bunch of cash on you (best thing to tell beggers is to smile and say "Sorry I don't have any cash on me .. but have a great day!"... seriously, it's better than ignoring them!!!) And if you do have a crapload of change on you - give some of it away :-)
But more than anything - smile and be friendly to folks no matter what they look like, or even if they smell a bit off... when you're living in a tent it's not always easy to get to a shower - especially in Seattle where even finding a public bathroom can be a challenge!!!!!
Just an example... one of the last times I spoke to someone who was 'homeless' it turned out that he was a retired architect who had designed several of the buildings in downtown Seattle. I learned quite a bit about Seattle's architectural history, helped an elderly man in a wheelchair get up to the (then) relatively new Seattle downtown library, and enjoyed an hour of an afternoon that I would have otherwise spent doing who knows what :-)
Hi, I'm from Vancouver Canada. I went on a School Field Trip to the Seattle Art Museum yesterday. At noon, our teachers gave us free time and allow us to explore and go shopping around downtown. As I was wandering around Pike St near the market area, a Black Homeless man suddenly came up and beg me for $5. So I kindly gave him some change from my wallet. However, he spotted theres some bills in my wallet, so he aggressively grabbed onto my shoulder and ask for more. He disgustingly spit salvias all over me, and kept begging and saying "I love you man! God bless you!" He even say he would buy a sandwich and go home. I kindly tell him to ask someone else, but he wouldn't let me go! As my heart was pounding really hard, I decided to hand him another $5, so that I can escape. Then the guy grabbed my money and quickly walked away. However, I saw him across the street asking people for more money. When I head back to the museum, a guy riding a bike, handed me a piece of paper, warning me that I shouldn't give anyone money because he said those people were "disguised as homeless people" I realized I got scammed and robbed... Anyways, I know I couldn't get my money back, but this just made me NEVER wanna visit this place again!!
I've spent significant time in cities like Chicago, NYC, Hartford, Tampa, and Boston - but nothing quite compares to the shock of shifting through the vagrants and moochers hovering around Pike Place Market for the first time. Dirty looks,
aggressive behavior, begging, crying, arguing, yelling jibberish, and general filth at every corner of downtown. You are supposed to feel ashamed walking by these disgusting layabouts for getting up every day and working hard. What a shame. I imagine Seattle used to be a great American city. Now it's a symbol of urban decay and liberal
policies run amuck. It's a dangerous situation. Leave your family in the hotel.
We live in Denver and the homeless/vagrant/bum/mentally ill/drug addict population is completely out of control there too. I go to Seattle this week for the first time. I will give you a report which city I think takes the prize.
I grew up in Seattle and left for a few years, around 2003. I spent a few of those years in NYC, moved to San Francisco, then back to Bellevue for about three years. And then work brought me back to Seattle earlier this year. All I can say is...
As a grown-ass male, 6'1" and about 200 pounds, I haven't been more nervous walking down the streets of any big city. This place has gotten out of control, and I don't see the bike police (or anyone) doing a damn thing about it.
Seattle has quickly become the most disgusting city on earth - full of trash, ***-talkers on every corner by Pike Place Market, drug users and generally ***ty people - and I've been to a lot of places over the past decade. I lived in the Bronx - a sunny disposition compared to the disgusting needle-heads that flow like salmon upstream during spawning season on the corner of Pine and 4th.
There are heroin recovery centers in the heart of downtown. Who the hell thought this was a good idea?
Toss in some tent cities, a few homeless dwellings under the underpasses, and cheap-ass hostels or shelters or whatevers up and down 1st and 2nd, and you have the recipe for "worst city to live in 2015".
I cannot recommend that a family move downtown. Or even visit. It's too dangerous, you will be scared, and you will leave dirtier than you arrived.
Stay. The. ***. Away.
I agree with the others who said street people downtown are numerous, aggressive, and that the city does too little about it.
In the morning and in the afternoon, when I try to walk to and from the bus stop, I have to fight my way through throngs of people who are not trying to catch a bus. Some are clearly homeless, runaways, druggies, but others seem to me perhaps rough around the edges but obviously not homeless. Yet they hang around Century Square all day talking crap, getting in the way.
I also know one of them. This person has a learning disability and has a well off family. She or he definitely has money and a home and a family who loves her or him. Yet there she or he is, hanging around Century Square. It's very sad. If she or he is in that position and is doing that, so are others.
I'm tired of watching people stoned out of their gourd talking crap, dancing around, selling stuff they stole at the drug store; tired of watching people standing around blaring music running around,, just getting in everyone's way. Aren't there loitering laws in Seattle?
When I see places, like the Laundromat and shower place where homeless folks can shower and launder clothing, and other resources like that, I'm very pleased. I know we're all human beings and believe me, I'm not unsympathetic. But I also know there're fraudsters and liars who pan handle who are not homeless. There really needs to be more regulation.
I love Seattle and lived there when I was in junior high but, on a recent trip, I was shocked to see so many homeless people all over the place, especially by the Convention Center right above the freeway. They were also at Westlake Center hanging around by the Starbucks. There was no place to go to sit and drink a cup of coffee outside. Six men were right outside the café smoking weed....yes, it's legal, but not in public. (Hey, I'm from Colorado, so I know the laws) Not a good scene for kids to see...in fact, I would never take kids on vacation there. It is very disturbing...I watched a young lady, a teenager, wander up the street by my hotel at night, with a vacant look in her eyes...please Seattle, how can you help these people???!!! I thought you had a 10 year plan. Then there was the man who shouts at you every time you say no you don't have any change. "For God sakes", he screamed at us. Another man jumped in front of us and screamed...."such ugly money" I had on an old pair of jeans, sneakers and a sweatshirt, so what was that all about??? Another man was shooting up right there on the corner. Why can't cities build shelters with hundreds of beds and let people stay there during the day? I have never worked with this population, so I know that there must be realities about these people (such as they have stuff which shelters won't let them take with them, trust issues etc.) What is America as a whole doing about mental illness in our country.....it's a problem people!!! I know that many (if not most ) homeless people are drug addicts, alcoholics or have mental disabilities, so why so much of that?? If you take your kids to Seattle, just please prepare them for what they might see..I guess it's the real world after all, and Seattle isn't the only city with this issue.
I have read a lot of posts on here, Just let me state this, Where I work at in Seattle I deal with more then most people on any given day. The fact is Seattle is a beautiful city like San Francisco, The fact is Seattle's homeless problems are more in your face then other city's. I grew up in the San Francisco bay area and can tell you how bad the homeless problem was way back when. But I know that I can walk through Seattle at any given hour and not be bothered. I know because I have done it many times for work.
I can tell you that when I moved up here it felt like culture shock to me because I have never in my life have seen so many people living in tents all over the place or sleeping on sidewalks every where I went but Seattle's Government needs to really find a way to stop this or better yet find a solution that will benefit all people. I can tell you that my hometown there is no homeless because the city had the local police dept give them money and ship them out of town, along with no panhandling laws. I don't agree with that solution but that was another time. I do have to agree that Seattle does coddling the local homeless population. There is a reason that other Cities dont have people living in tents and sleeping all over the place and ruining parks and other public places. Maybe Seattle needs to find out from those cities what worked.
There are so many social services that are taxpayer funded in Seattle, such as very nice apartment complexes built to house "chronic public inebriates," food kitchens, shelters, etc.. Also, a small but loud contingent of homeless choose to live in tent cities that the city basically "tolerates" due to intense political pressures from far-left groups.
None of the locals I know give money to panhandlers. Many of us do give money to food banks and other charities. In fact, Seattle is the top-ranked city in the nation for charitable donations.
The panhandling situation that's become so prevalent since the early 1990s started with the grunge scene (mostly runaways from the eastern seabord who came out here to shoot up and die in alleyways.) Eventually, word got out to the indigent living in other cities across the nation that Seattle coddles its homeless population and they get a pretty good deal out here.
I've talked with a few "regulars" who hang out by my office downtown selling their "Real Change" newspaper and they've told me that most of the homeless in this city are not local. A lot of people now on the streets watched shows like "The Deadliest Catch" and came to Seattle looking for blue collar work. The problem there is two-fold: 1) you can't get those jobs if you don't know someone in the scene; and 2) most blue-collar jobs go to the abundant illegal alien Latino population, which is viciously defended by organizations like El Centro del La Raza.
Most of the homeless in Seattle are from the USA's East Coast and Southwest. Very few of the homeless in Seattle are actually local (seriously, just ask them where they're from.) There are some Native American artists who live on the street, but they tend to take care of their own and make a living by selling their art, which I encourage all tourists to purchase.
There are a lot, and I mean a LOT of mentally unbalanced homeless individuals combing the streets, but you'll find that most of the homeless are drifters who came here from other parts of the country looking for a better life and all they got out of it was a drug or alcohol habit that they let the tourists pay for through their donations. They know that the tourists are their bread and butter, so they get very agressive about it, especially in touristy areas like the waterfront, Pioneer Square and Westlake Center. Locals blow them off and they know it's pointless to even try. If you actually want to help them help themselves, then drop by a shelter or a food kitchen, most of which are around the King County Courthouse and make a donation there. You won't be paying for meth, heroin or Mad Dog by taking that route and the locals will really appreciate it.
I didn't ever feel in real danger but some of the homeless there are real wackos. They'll come right up and talk to you. Just ignore them and you'll be fine for the most part. I'd try to stay with a big group if you can though. You never know if some isolated incident could come about.
Okay sure, some people you come across in Seattle may seem dangerous to you, complain to the mental hospital that shut their doors and closed down. Don't treat all homeless people like their spawn of the earth though, not all of them are the same.
I'm one of them and I just try to mind my own business, without trying to bum people for cigarrettes (which are a nasty habit), money or whatever. I'm like you I want to be left alone, I won't stand out on the corner like some of the others and beg or hold a sign...I'm too proud for that.
I go walking around looking for work, and sometimes being in the state that I am I get snubbed nose, but even when I'm clean I get the same reaction without all my stuff. And also complain to whoever has decided to do the 'End homelessness a ten year plan' thing. I certainly don't see anything happening. Not when I see a guy sleeping by his bags (because the shelters won't let him keep his stuff there) and the bags are resting by his MOBILITY CART! So all in all, you may call us a danger but we're still victims in this city, because nobody seems to give a crap.