Rantz: Seattle nonprofit contractor shot meth with homeless woman he was tasked to help near school
The nonprofit leader entrusted to clear the dangerous homeless encampment at Broadview-Thomson K-8 admits that he took meth with a homeless woman he was supposed to help.
Mike Mathias of the homeless advocacy nonprofit Anything Helps was selected by Seattle Public Schools to work with the approximately 70 homeless people living at the controversial Bitter Lake encampment. For over a year, the park attached to the school attracted sex workers, addicts, and at one point, even a sex offender. It posed a danger to the neighboring students, staff, parents, and parkgoers.
But in July of this year, roughly a week after Mathias officially took over the efforts at the encampment, he admits to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that he accepted a shot of meth from a member of the camp.
The revelation comes as Mathias faces a number of serious allegations concerning his conduct with homeless women. He denies all other allegations, which include using nonprofit funds to purchase drugs, and threatening housing vouchers for anyone who spoke out against him.
But as these allegations came to light, it revealed a serious lack of oversite from the city and county agencies that tasked Mathias with important work. It’s not even clear there will be an investigation.
The complaints include drug use, drug purchases
Members of Anything Helps informed Mathias via email on Nov. 26 that the group had received “multiple substantiated reports of misconduct.” They asked him to step aside.
The Anything Helps team informed its community partners — including the King County Regional Homelessness Authority — of the allegations in a Dec. 3 memo.
“We are disappointed to inform you of unethical, unprofessional, and potentially unlawful conduct within our agency, Anything Helps,” the memo reads.
The complaints allege a series of illegal behavior by Mathias against members of the homeless encampment — all of whom are women. It includes drug use and purchases, harassment, and coercion.
Pressuring women to ‘slam’ him with meth
Mathias is accused of using Anything Helps funds to purchase meth for his own use. But citing four unnamed witnesses, the memo says Mathias spent “large cash amounts” to purchase drugs for individuals living at the encampment.
Citing six “firsthand accounts plus witnesses to gross misconduct,” the memo alleges Mathias was “pressuring women at the camp to ‘hit’ or ‘slam’ him with meth.” This indicates intravenous meth use.
The memo says some of the homeless women “were afraid to say no or miss ‘hitting’ his vein as they felt he had control of their housing futures.”
The complaint alleges that one woman said she was “overtly” told by Mathias that her “Emergency Housing Voucher form could be rescinded/canceled and that he could get her kicked out of her current room at the Mary Pilgrim Inn if she did not agree to do what he requested.”
The Mary Pilgrim Inn is a shelter operated by the Downtown Emergency Service Center.
Mathias admits to shooting meth with one homeless woman
Mathias and Anything Helps started working on the ground in mid-June. About one month later, they were contracted by SPS to work with the homeless encampment members more officially.
About one week after starting the work officially, Mathias tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that he attempted a hit of meth with a woman at the encampment.
“In July, I did agree to an offer made by a female camper to accept a shot of methamphetamine,” Mathias told me via social media. “She did attempt to administer this to me, and the event was short-lived and thankfully unsuccessful, but I regrettably admit that this occured [sic] nonetheless.”
Mathias says Anything Helps was able to secure funding for housing for the unidentified woman. He says, however, since these accusations became public, she “disappeared from the site.” He speculates that she may fear retaliation but says he would never do that. He says he regrets placing her “in such a situation that she would move away from a potential housing resource.”
But it was ‘unsuccessful’
Mathias said that “it’s important for me to state that she was unsuccessful in administrating me that shot, although it was certainly attempted.”
When Mathias says it was “unsuccessful,” it means he couldn’t find a vein to inject the drug. He says after the failed attempt, he asked her to stop.
“To me it’s the same thing, but it’s important for me to make the distinction for others because it would have been a very different situation for my sobriety and my ability to handle that environment if the administration of that (expletive) was successful. I’m still in active recovery and have been since 2019. But that’s just a matter of good fortune,” Mathias said.
Mathias denies all other allegations.
Community partners weigh-in, exposing a lack of oversight
On Dec. 7, the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) emailed Mathias informing him that they halted housing application referrals from his organization.
“The Authority is not rendering judgment absent an investigation, but operating from an abundance of caution to ensure that no harm is done to people experiencing homelessness in this process,” Program Performance Manager Alex Ebrahimi wrote.
But the email to Mathias also asked several questions revealing KCRHA did not understand how Anything Helps operates.
The vetting of Anything Helps appears relegated to KCRHA verifying it is registered as a charitable organization with the state. Indeed, Ebrahimi admits in the email that “we do not have information about your organization’s structure.”
“Please identify your board of directors or other organizational oversight with contact information, and your staffing, with names and an organization chart,” Ebrahimi requested. “How is your board made aware of complaints against yourself or your organization? How are such complaints handled? What steps are taken to investigate and address complaints or allegations of impropriety by members of your organization or yourself?”
These questions lead to a significant one: How did Anything Helps, which has no track record of success, nor any full-time, paid case workers at the time it connected with KCRHA, earn 14 coveted housing vouchers?
What about Seattle Public Schools?
It’s unclear if these allegations will be investigated by the city or county.
Various media reports indicated that the KCRHA would conduct an investigation into the allegations against Mathias. But the KCRHA says that’s not true.
A spokesperson for the KCRHA confirms to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that “control of the housing vouchers is the extent of our involvement right now.”
“That said, these are serious allegations, and should be investigated. We believe in both accountability and due process,” the spokesperson said via email. “Seattle Public Schools is the property owner and the holder of the contract with Anything Helps, so they will be leading the investigation.”
The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH reached out to SPS to get a better understanding of the investigatory process. Who is running it and what is the timeline?
“This is the first I’ve heard of any investigation,” the spokesperson replied, citing a media report indicating KCRHA is heading the investigation.
He said he would work to get more information but did not respond by the time of publication.
Mathias struggled under the pressure
Mathias was given the Herculean task of clearing out the encampment. Anything Helps was not equipped to get the job done under a timeline that SPS kept changing. The nonprofit was founded in March of 2021, four months before they were contracted by SPS. Mathias was the only person running the nonprofit at the time.
When Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office refused to pay for the encampment resources since it’s on school property, SPS felt public pressure to do something. Previously, school board members refused to sweep the encampment, arguing they would only move them if they had housing.
Mathias was, somehow, supposed to get that done. And he felt the pressure.
“We were all burnt out on site because of the length of time extending well past our original timeline,” Mathias said of how he felt just weeks into the work he did before the contract.
“I think after about a month or so I started feeling comfortable with people and let my guard down,” he admits. “It was certainly a wake-up call, and I was hypervigilant after that point, but there were still plenty of times where I was very tempted to go back down that path.”
Mathias, formerly homeless, says he started abusing meth in 2016. But three years later, he started his recovery.
What happens next?
The encampment is in the process of being fully cleared before the park undergoes a facelift, after over a year of abuse. Most of the homeless were offered, and eventually accepted, shelter.
Anything Helps staffers demanded Mathias step down. He told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that he stepped down as Executive Director “for the time being.”
“After reflecting on this mistake and being honest with myself, I feel it’s best for my recovery and for the benefit of others that I refrain from working directly with vulnerable adults in active addiction in the future,” he told me. “This is not an admission of guilt to any of the other allegations made against me — it is offered in the same spirit that lead me into recovery; one of radical transparency.”
An interim executive director was appointed, Mathias says. He says he’s now seeking legal counsel.
If there will be an investigation into the allegations, it remains unclear which agency — if any — will take the lead.
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