By Patty Fong, DJ/Host
KBCS 91.3 FM
I live near the Chinatown/International District (ID). I do not wish to speak against the homeless.
Rather, I want to advocate for the community I live near, shop in, and otherwise enjoy being in — to speak up for this community and our concerns and rights, too. Because we too need aggressive, effective advocates like Real Change, Columbia Legal Services, and the ACLU.
This summer, unauthorized camps sprung up under I-5 along Jackson and King streets.Eventually, they created huge piles of trash.
They soon moved their belongings onto the sidewalk, blocking the right-of-way.
I saw people urinating right on the sidewalk. I heard of drugs blatantly being dealt here.
I didn’t see outreach workers. I didn’t see garbage collection. I didn’t see toilets being provided. I didn’t see anyone making sure the public right-of-way was kept clear, so people could walk unimpeded on the sidewalk. I didn’t see anyone there to prevent public urination or defecation or drug dealing.
Getting the City to at least pick up the garbage took a frustratingly long time.
Volunteers from the ID had to pick up some of this garbage until then.
It seemed that these horrible and unacceptable conditions, for everyone, would go on and on. No one was doing anything effectively, even in the face of obvious hygiene, sanitation, and public safety and legal violations.
No one should have to live this way.
I am against the proposed restrictions on sweeps. I believe these restrictions will do little to help anyone. Had they been in place this summer, the misery of all would have been prolonged, delayed, and might have even become permanent.
The City’s proposals do nothing to ensure that all parties’ concerns are addressed humanely, effectively, or appropriately. From our community’s standpoint, they are basic: hygiene, sanitation, public safety, unimpeded and safe right-of-way, and abiding by the law.
I took pictures of the camps and the problems they caused on the streets.
They demonstrate that this sad situation must not happen again in the ID. In the rush to advocate for rights, let’s not forget that there is more than one side to this story when it comes to homelessness.