LOCAL NEWS

‘Seattle is Dying’ follow-up draws harsh criticism from local homeless advocates

Dec 22, 2020, 9:38 AM
Seattle is Dying, homelessness...
Advocates for affordable housing in Seattle. (KIRO Radio)
(KIRO Radio)

In 2019, KOMO produced a documentary entitled “Seattle is Dying,” laying out a narrative arguing that an escalating homeless crisis was responsible for the downfall of the city’s downtown core. The network put out a sequel in December called “Fight for the Soul of Seattle,” and groups criticized in the segment are already speaking out.

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The new 90-minute follow-up documentary from KOMO labels the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) — a local homelessness nonprofit — as “the single greatest drain on police resources in the city of Seattle.”

The organization released a lengthy statement addressing that accusation Monday, claiming that the documentary “conflates and simplifies complex issues, mischaracterizes DESC’s mission, and ignores our successful track record housing and supporting some of the city’s most vulnerable and marginalized people.”

According to the DESC, the nonprofit was not asked for a statement despite being featured prominently.

“We have deep expertise on these topics, and would have provided details about our work and pointed them to decades of research on proven interventions in addressing homelessness, drug addiction, and other behavioral health issues,” the DESC’s statement reads.

Several other prominent groups addressing homeless in Seattle and across the U.S. also responded to KOMO’s documentary, in the form of a joint letter signed by the Corporation for Supportive Housing, Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, Lived Experience Coalition, National Low Income Housing Coalition, and more.

The letter labeled “Fight for the Soul of Seattle” as “propaganda from [KOMO parent company] Sinclair, the worldwide right-wing media group dedicated to sowing division and promoting fringe arguments.”

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“There’s no ‘battle’ for the soul of anything, save perhaps for a nation that has allowed its housing market to careen out of control and a lack of leadership willing to address it,” the letter reads.

The documentary’s own arguments concerning homelessness center around stricter enforcement of substance addiction, and “the crushing decisions Seattle entrepreneurs are forced to contemplate as their life savings and dreams are destroyed by theft, vandalism and a dwindling customer base.”

“This documentary also explores potential bold solutions to treat those living on the streets and pair them with agencies and assistance that can provide a clear path away from the endless circle of addiction and crime,” KOMO’s article accompanying the piece lays out.

 

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‘Seattle is Dying’ follow-up draws harsh criticism from local homeless advocates