Look, Ma! No Dumpster!

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Is anyone surprised by this picture of trash overflowing at Nickelsville’s Skyway site?

Nobody should be surprised.

The trash photo was taken by some intrepid and anonymous photographer and posted on the West Hill Community Association’s Facebook page on October 30, 2013.

If you’ll look at Nickelsville Temporary Use Permit application  that was approved a few days ago [click here], you’ll see that one of the things Nickelsville’s sponsors claim they will have on-site is a Dumpster. But there hasn’t been any Dumpster there and there probably never will be. From what I’m told, Nickelsville still owes money on the Dumpster and port-a-potty services they were using at their Highland Park site. And remember: they didn’t foot the bill for any of the massive clean-up costs after they left there.

[To see a slideshow on what the place looked after the last “Nickelodeon” had gone, check the sidebar.]

And don’t be fooled by the applicant names you see on that Temporary Use Permit. Jam for Justice isn’t running the Nickelsville Skyway site. And Nickelsville isn’t running itself either. SHARE is running it. And Scott Morrow is running SHARE. Scott Morrow is the guy who fills out the permit applications, he’s the guy who picks up the mail (at the SHARE PO box), and he’s the guy all the so-called Executive Committee reports to for final approval of their “decisions.” So make no mistake: Skyway Nickelsville is a SHARE/Scott Morrow project, just like all the other Nickelsvilles.

It’s clear that, whatever grand dreams Mr. Morrow purports to have for rescuing homeless people, this guy is just not up to the task. Not even for the relatively small number of people at the Skyway site. Hell, they can’t even afford Dumpster service to keep the place clean. By any reasonable and fair standard, King County’s Department of Permits and Environmental Review (DPER) shouldn’t have granted this permit, retrospectively or otherwise. What DPER should have done when Nickelsville showed up with their tents, is just call the Sheriff’s office and hustle those guys right along. They had two months’ notice to bug out of their previous digs at Highland Park, and that was MORE than enough time for anyone who really wanted help finding housing to get it.

But no, instead DPER appears to have fallen for that classic Scott Morrow line of bullshit: SHARE is saving lives. Dumpster or no Dumpster, it’s still better than having people sleep under bridges.

But is it? I’m not so sure of that anymore. I’m not so sure that the people in SHARE’s squatter camps are better off just sitting there among the trash and squalor than they would be on their own. A few of them might be. But most aren’t. When you consider some of the nasty stuff that goes on in these places, and when you consider how vulnerable some of the folks there are, I wonder if they might not ALL be better off on their own. At least then they’d be motivated to try and get help. But as long as they keep chanting this mantra of “We’re staying together and staying safe” –they’ll just be stuck there, subject to control by Mr. Morrow and his cronies. It’s like some kind of cult, really.

No, but isn’t that how cult members talk? Don’t they claim to prefer the loving arms of the cult leader and their cult “family” to life on their own? [See also “Manson Family.”]

If you look at page 6 of the Temporary Use Permit application, the so-called Permit Narrative, you’ll see that SHARE puts a lot of emphasis on the idea of homeless people living together and “staying safe” even though Nickelsville accounts for only a tiny, almost insignificant proportion of the homeless population:

OK, so Nickelsville is helping a few homeless people stay together. Theoretically these people are safer there than anywhere else.

But what about being clean? Isn’t that part of being safe?

And what about getting off drugs and alchohol? Isn’t that part of being safe?

And what about getting mental health services? And permanent housing? Isn’t that part of being safe?

Show me the evidence that SHARE has programs in place at Nickelsville to encourage people to stay clean and get the help they need. Show me the evidence that Nickelsville is anything more than a government-approved dumping ground for poor people. And a nuisance for everyone else.

If you can show me that, then I’ll fill out the next permit application myself.

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6 Responses to Look, Ma! No Dumpster!

  1. DBP says:

    Joanne is a good person, Jiggers. She’s done many acts of kindness for people. I don’t fault her for being kind, of course. However, I do fault her for not getting the Big Picture, and for encouraging others not to get it.

    When it comes to homeless people, there’s a fine line between truly helping and enabling. Unfortunately, Joanne crossed that line long ago, and never looked back.

    It’s a pattern that plays itself out wherever there are large numbers of needy people close at hand, like there are at Nickelsville. Within the first few weeks of Nickelsville setting up shop in Highland Park, it had attracted dozens of supporters. Word quickly got around the camp about who the most generous (and least judgmental) donors were, and those donors drew campers to them like a picnic draws ants.

    If you’ve got a little money, or a car, or a place to shower and get clean, it’s not hard to make friends at a place like Nickelsville. But unless you’re really naive, or really codependent (like Joanne) you’ll soon discover that most of the people you’re trying to help are actually doing very little to help themselves. From that point on, it’s just a question of how long before you burn out.

    Joanne, like many enablers, is thoroughly addicted to the feel-good buzz she gets from helping other people. She is also addicted to the rush of lecturing folks on what they need to do to turn their lives around. A few will take her advice, but most will listen politely, nod their heads, and stick out their hands for the next hand-out. That’s the way codependency works: To get the free supper, you have to listen to the sermon. To get people to sit still for your sermon, you have to give them a free supper.

    As a result of her addiction level and her seemingly endless resources, Joanne’s burn-out threshold is extremely high. So high, in fact, that in an endurance test between her and your average Needy Nickelodeon, I think the Nickelodeon would probably give out first. 😉 But most donors are not like her, and by the time the City Council finally evicted Nickelsville from Highland Park the camp had pretty much burned out just about every other one of them.

    The time had come for Nickelsville to move on . . . to another bunch of suckers.

  2. DBP says:

    Thanks for your comments, Jiggers. I always enjoy reading your perspective because it’s not canned. I get so sick and tired of getting the Official Homelessness Narrative.

    The Official Narrative is as follows:

    1) Homeless people have been victimized by society and that’s what’s holding them back. If they can just get a benefit check and a place to stay they’ll be fine.

    2) It’s really the government’s job to solve homelessness. Homeless people bear little or no responsibility because, remember, they’re victims.

    3) Since the government can’t solve homelessness, the problem has to be left to individual do-gooders, churches, and non-profit groups, like SHARE. If the do-gooders can’t handle it . . . if SHARE turns out to be corrupt . . . then tough titties. Don’t ask questions, because there are no other alternatives.

    There. Does that cover it?

  3. DBP says:

    A Note to Our Readers:

    Some of you might be wondering why Jiggers and I spend so much time talking about a person named Joanne Brayden, and why we even mention her by name.

    The reason is simple: Ms. Brayden is well known on another West Seattle blog, and she speaks out frequently on the topic of homelessness. Many readers of that blog disagree with her, but it’s impossible for them to criticize her in that forum, because the blog editor won’t allow it. So I allow them to criticize her in this one. It relieves tension and prevents World Wars.

    Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. Recently, the other West Seattle blog (which we call the Borg Blog) picked up a story TBQ had been running about Seattle police rousting squatters from the woods off Myers Way in Southwest Seattle. On the Borg Blog, Ms. Brayden expressed her sympathy for the squatters (whom she had been supplying with food and other assistance) and worried about what would happen to them.

    . . . all well and good, she’s entitled to her opinion. But when a reader criticized her for abetting the illegal actions of the squatters, the Borg Blog editor, Tracy Record, came on the thread, in classic style, and scolded the person, reiterating her long-standing position that Ms. Brayden was the expert on homelessness and that therefore criticism of her was off limits. Ms. Record might not have used those exact words, but her message was unmistakable.

    This same scenario has played out repeatedly over the years, where Ms. Brayden will make some arch pronouncement, and this will cause some Borg Blog newbie to flame her. The Borg Blog editor will then either delete the critical post outright or come on the thread herself and deliver a public scolding to Ms. Brayden’s detractors. The scolding will then be followed by a round of sycophantic Hear-Hears! from Ms. Brayden’s small but vocal fan club. And then – count on it – someone will cap it off by saying: “I love this blog! I love you, Tracy!”

    But what the sycophants are really saying is: I love it when the other team is disqualified and my team wins by default.

    . . . so much for community forums . . .

    The message from the Borg Blog editor to her readers is clear: Don’t criticize me or my friends, or your comments will be deleted and your voice will be silenced.

    But TBQ’s message is: This is America, not North Korea. Personal criticism is part of free speech; therefore, it should be allowed.

    And it is allowed. Here.

  4. DBP says:

    Right again, Jiggs.

    God, how I love TBQ. It’s got the Weather Report. It’s got the Bridge Report. It’s got 24/7 Nickelsville trash updates. Why . . . it’s even got freedom of speech.

    But seriously, you know what’s creepy cool about this place? It’s how Joanne and her pals are checking in here on a regular basis, just to see what people really think about them.

    On the Borg Blog, her little clique is like: Yay, Tracy! Make everyone who criticizes us shut up! They love that feeling of winning an argument by default.

    But then they’ll sneak over here to get what they can’t get on the Borg Blog, which is simply this: Real, uncensored opinions.

    Fucking hypocrites.

  5. Rats In A Cage says:

    Blow blog commenters are Kool aid drinkers!

    “I hope everyone is ok”

  6. rosebunting says:

    I have to add my two cents on the other blog when historical points are raised and I know about/lived through the local event being discussed. West Seattle before J.C. Penney left the Junction, and there were cars on cinder blocks in every other yard. Even in the Admiral district. And crime, drug use by kids, and dogs shitting on everything. I often wonder when the time of milk and honey was that some posters allude to.

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