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Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
“Rent is obscene here”: The issues forcing people in Seattle onto the street
Anderson Cooper visits a tent city in the Seattle area and hears from some of America’s more than 500,000 homeless people
Tricia Wood: I used to be one of those people that thought that if anyone was homeless they just needed to go get a job. That would solve their homeless problems.
Anderson Cooper: How would you answer that question now? Why can’t they just get a job?
Tricia Wood: Oh my goodness. Maybe they have a job.
Josiah Wood has a full-time job. He gets up before dawn and takes mass transit to work as a maintenance supervisor at the Hard Rock Café downtown. Though he makes $19.50 an hour, the rent for an average one-bedroom apartment in Seattle would eat up half his salary. He and Tricia say they’ve been saving up money so they can afford a security deposit and monthly rent.
Anderson Cooper: How long do you think you’ll keep living in the tent city?
Tricia Wood: I would hope we are out of here by winter.
California, the country’s wealthiest and most populous state, also has the most homeless, an unremitting crisis that has confounded the state’s political leaders for decades and exposed one of the most extreme manifestations of economic inequality gripping the country.
Tent encampments — Oakland city officials count 90 of them — are now as much a part of the landscape as the bars and restaurants that cater to the city’s rising affluence. Many Americans are one medical emergency, one layoff, one family disaster away from bankruptcy or losing the roofs over their heads.
I was driving around Downtown Denver earlier today and drove past three people sleeping on the street, a few blocks from the ballpark. They didn’t have much baggage – no tents or sleeping bags, and one of them was in a large electric wheelchair. You see a lot of homeless people in Denver so I might not have registered these three, but that I had read this article earlier in the day, and I can’t see how someone survives being homeless in an electric wheelchair.
San Franciscans who have visited other cities recently also attributed differences to higher expectations for decency and civility elsewhere. Several readers talked about visiting Japan, where cleaners with tidy uniforms and even flowers pinned to their caps whisk into bullet trains between journeys and ensure they’re immaculate. Signs are posted everywhere telling people not to litter. Public toilets are pristine.
“We counted the number of homeless people we saw in Japan. Eight,” said a co-worker who visited Tokyo and Kyoto for her two-week honeymoon in May. “I pass at least that many on my way to work.”
Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle