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Seattle homeless tents becoming obstacles for those with disabilities

(AP)

Homeless tents on sidewalks in downtown Seattle are sometimes a minor nuisance to passersby. But for some, they can be a major impediment on the daily commute.

KIRO 7 reports on paralegal Lori Bridgewater, who commutes to the King County Courthouse from Rochester and recently suffered a debilitating stroke. Now using a wheelchair, she’s found some of the sidewalks in the Pioneer Square area to be blocked by homeless people, which forces her into traffic.

RELATED: Three years later, Seattle’s homeless emergency persists

“I think this is interesting story. You have a clash of two good people,” KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney said. “The homeless need help and support, but people who are disabled also need help and support, and when those two efforts collide, you need to do some adjusting.”

The latest data on homelessness, published in January 2018, claimed that Seattle and King County’s homeless population sits just over 12,000, a four percent increase over 2017. The portion of homeless who are unsheltered also increased from 2017, from 47 percent to 52 percent in 2018.

Bridgewater is hoping local business and the city take stories like hers into account, and place a greater emphasis on making the downtown area more ADA compliant.

“Well, the sidewalk is designed for people to walk, not for people to sleep on. There are so many people who have tents set up,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley.

“A lot of people have to walk passed all those tents and everybody begging, but that’s the way the city shows compassion, to allow people to continue to live on the streets and poop on the sidewalks and drop needles and syringes everywhere.”

RELATED: Are ‘sweeps’ of Seattle homeless camps unconstitutional?

Includes reporting from KIRO 7’s Deedee Sun.

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