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Are $2,000 Seattle homeless tours a real thing?

A man is apparently selling $2,000 tours of Seattle where you play the part of a homeless person, even staying at a real shelter. KIRO Radio's Andrew Walsh doesn't buy it. (KIRO Radio/file)

Taken from Friday’s edition of The Andrew Walsh Show.

When I saw reports a man was selling homeless tours of Seattle for $2,000, at first I thought oh it’s probably some sort of homeless outreach group. There will be homeless outreach groups that will support a sleep outside for one night type thing to raise awareness of homeless issues.

I saw this and wondered is this it, or is the other side of the coin, is this one of those people that is trying to profit off of poverty? Is this the type of person who’s like pay me $20, get on my little bus, and I’ll take you around Compton or the Lower Ninth Ward or something like that?

Turns out, it’s not quite either of those. It’s absolutely bonkers and I’m finding it incredibly hard to believe this is actually a thing. I feel like I might be punked here. I’m not sure. By the way he is charging $2,000 for these two-night tours.

It’s called a sub-Urban Experience. It’s a two-night tour where this guy Mike, a 44-year resident of Seattle, will take you on a three-day, two-night tour of Seattle’s homeless situation.

It sounds so callous when you start getting into the details of it. You pick a homeless name. You pick a nickname for yourself. Like “Hobo Joe.”

His explanation of it is that back in 2013, he was just wondering what it’s like to be homeless and he felt like he should have a better understanding of it, so he took two months in the summer and chose to be homeless. He says it was an amazing experience. He says you can actually live for $600 a month in Seattle and he wants others to have that experience as well.

I’m somebody who is all for, ‘hey we have to always think about what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes.’ But this is nuts.

He’s saying the first day we start at the public market and visit its homeless gathering spots. Then walk to Pioneer Square and visit the waterfront and all these other spots where homeless people congregate. Then we check in at our shelter at 7 p.m.

So they’re taking shelter spots from real homeless people.

You’ve got a guy who is taking $2,000. I didn’t see anything mentioned on his website that says this money goes toward the homeless. I didn’t see that anywhere. So he’s going to charge you $2,000 and then you and your friends are going to go take up some beds at a homeless shelter here in Seattle, where we need every single bed possible.

Then you wake up, get coffee and visit some other places where homeless people congregate. You go to Tent City. There’s a place called Recovery Café on Denny in Seattle. He says you go on a visit there. I guess I now understand that Recovery Café must be a place where addicts can go, and I assume we’re talking about homeless addicts. He’s like ‘oh it’s really great, it’s really nice, it’s funded by the Gates Foundation.’

So why don’t you, person who has $2,000 to spend and give me, why don’t you go take a seat at this Recovery Café that’s built to help other people?

And then, we have a first-class dinner he says at Fare Start. FareStart is a place where homeless people are trained by top-notch chefs to be chefs themselves.

You and I can go there right now and get a nice meal and pay for it. It helps give some money to some folks. It gives them really necessary skills.

I don’t know if you’re paying for that FareStart meal or not, but I got the impression that no you’re going to go in there and say, ‘I’m Patches the homeless person, help me out.’

Maybe I’m misunderstanding this. Maybe he’s got a better explanation of it. We reached out to Mike, but have not heard back.

I guess the only way to find out if it’s real is somebody pay $2,000 to him and see if he actually goes through with it. But, I recommend not doing that.

Taken from Thursday’s edition of The Andrew Walsh Show.


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