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Michael Medved

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Homeless say warrants are why addicts won’t seek treatment

(Tom Amato, KTTH)

With the talk of safe injection sites in Seattle intensifying, I decided to go to a local tent encampment to see if the campers think homeless heroin addicts would seek treatment.

The camp I visited is located under the I-5 ramp in the University District. One woman told me that safe-injection sites would be helpful, but some of the campers in the area have criminal backgrounds and wouldn’t pursue treatment.

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“There’s a lot of people out here who have warrants,” she said. “Those are the people who end up overdosing … they’ll go off somewhere by themselves, so they’re not in a group of people, so they won’t be harassed by cops. Or they’ll go in a bathroom somewhere.”

The woman told me she would be open to using a safe-injection site to ween off the drug but said the cops need to stay away. If they did, she would “absolutely” use the sites.

“They have sites somewhat like that, like the navigation center downtown, and the cops are always there harassing people,” she said. “People don’t want to go there.”

Another man concurred, telling me warrants play a large role in homeless individuals keeping a low profile. Back in April, MyNorthwest broke the story of Nickelsville residents being coerced into participating in activism and political rallies. The man, who said he’s a one-time resident of Nickelsville, said homeless individuals are often traded shelter for political activism, but some still choose to sleep outside.

“I know people with warrants,” he said. “They don’t want to do it because there’s a chance they’ll go to jail”

The man said he believed safe injection sites would get people the help they need, but agreed with the woman that the cops shouldn’t be allowed in the vicinity.

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