JASON RANTZ

Seattle activist: Wrong to assume the city is properly tackling homelessness

Jan 8, 2021, 12:22 PM | Updated: Jan 11, 2021, 4:03 pm
seattle homelessness...
Downtown Seattle. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A coalition of community groups are looking to revitalize Seattle’s parks. Thousands of local residents have signed on to a petition asking leaders in the area to essentially act and clean up the parks, help out the homeless, and return local parks to semblance of normalcy. Andrea Suarez is the founder of I Heart Downtown Seattle and joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss.

“I started I Heart Downtown Seattle a few months ago with one goal in mind, and that was just to help pick up the trash. That inevitably led me down to many of our parks, which admittedly, I hadn’t realized had gotten as bad as they are with respect to trash and needles and the homeless encampments that have taken residency at them,” she said.

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“It frustrated me that as a taxpayer over the years, I just willingly trusted our government leaders to do the right thing with the money they collect to eradicate homelessness. It’s been five years since a state of emergency was declared by our mayor, Murray at the time, and again, there’s just a lot of folks that are democratically voting liberals,” she added. “Everybody now is waking up saying, ‘Where is our money going? And why is this problem of homelessness worse and worse?'”

Suarez says she was never really involved politically, but had a bit of a reawakening on the homeless issue, which was overt during lockdown.

“I have not previously been very politically involved. I will raise my hand and apologize to your audience that I have been part of the problem,” she said. “I assumed our government was doing the right thing with my tax dollars, and I believe this silver lining of the pandemic was a lot of us sitting at home wanting to go out and use our parks, going outside and seeing the ruins that our city is in because it’s not being camouflaged by tourism.”

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“I was just walking through downtown, and the only folks that were visible in society were drug addicts, drug dealers, people mentally ill roaming the streets, unclothed, filthy. … I know not everybody that’s homeless is a drug user, but particularly in the inner city parks where I had been frequenting the most was, Denny Park in particular,” she said. “The amount of trash and needles in the park, just because society wasn’t using the park, staying home, doing the right thing. This happened very, very quickly in our city.”

While she considered leaving Seattle, she loves the city and hopes to rouse others to pay more attention, and become engaged with city leaders.

“I love this city too much. And the attitude that I had prior that everything was just OK with our government leaders doing the right thing, spending our money the right way, you know, I will own that as part of the problem,” she said. “My movement is to wake up and coalesce a group of voters that have been quiet, who haven’t been going to town hall meetings, who don’t demand accountability from our councilmembers.”

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Seattle activist: Wrong to assume the city is properly tackling homelessness