Rantz: No plans to investigate massive Seattle homeless scandal, ensuring it happens again

Dec 21, 2021, 6:56 AM | Updated: 10:48 am

The man tasked with clearing the homeless encampment at a Seattle school asked an addict to “slam” him with meth. His organization was barely vetted. And there are no plans for an investigation, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned. Both agencies that worked with the group are placing the onus to investigate on each other.

Mike Mathias of the homeless advocacy nonprofit Anything Helps was contracted by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to work with the approximately 70 homeless people living at the controversial Bitter Lake encampment neighboring Broadview-Thomson K-8. He was given coveted housing vouchers by the King County Regional Homeless Authority (KCRHA) to get people into homes.

But about a month into the work, Mathias admitted to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that he asked a homeless addict to inject him with meth. Now, he faces a number of serious allegations by volunteers within his own organization. They include the use of nonprofit funds — some of which came from tax dollars — to purchase drugs to feed his own habit and pressuring homeless women into staying quiet. He denies these allegations.

Rather than take this situation seriously, neither SPS nor KCRHA are committing to an investigation. In fact, both organizations are deflecting blame, insisting they’re not the ones to investigate. This ensures a similar situation will again occur in the sometimes complex work of getting people off the streets.

Rantz: Seattle nonprofit contractor shot meth with homeless woman he was tasked to help

Vetting? What vetting?

There doesn’t appear to be any vetting that went into Anything Helps ahead of its selection for volunteers to clear the encampment.

In fact, at the time of the announcement that it would head the Herculean task of clearing out chronically homeless from the longstanding encampment, many local activists had never even heard of the group. They didn’t know much about the group or Mathias because he had just founded the group in March 2021, four months before being contracted for the work.

At the time, he was the only person running the group and didn’t have any full-time case workers to help connect the homeless with housing or services.

SPS, which owns the property where the encampment was located, hasn’t been clear on how or why Anything Helps was contracted for this task. Nevertheless, Mathias got to work and was given 14 housing vouchers by the KCRHA. But an email reveals KCRHA leadership did little vetting beyond checking to see if Anything Helps was registered as a nonprofit.

KCRHA Program Performance Manager Alex Ebrahimi emailed Mathias on Dec. 7 to inform him that they halted housing application referrals from his organization. But he also posed a series of questions revealing KCRHA knew little about the group. Ebrahimi even admits 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?”

Investigation? What investigation?

When the allegations against Mathias came to light, initial reports said KCRHA “is investigating.” But that wasn’t true.

“Seattle Public Schools is the property owner and the holder of the contract with Anything Helps, so they will be leading the investigation,” a KCRHA spokesperson told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH via email on Dec. 8.

But SPS isn’t leading the investigation. That day, a spokesperson from SPS said, “This is the first I’ve heard of any investigation.”

Weeks later and nothing has changed. Neither SPS nor KCRHA are investigating the claims made by Mathias’ colleagues.

A spokesperson for SPS said “we’re not doing an investigation,” though “that could change” without committing to a date. But it isn’t going to change.

“Deputy Superintendent Rob Gannon is working with SPS legal counsel to assess the situation and will communicate with the Anything Helps Board this month. It is the district’s position that, as a nonprofit organization registered with the state, Anything Helps is responsible for investigating the allegations made against its executive director,” the spokesperson said this week to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Neighbors file lawsuit against Seattle school district over encampment

Internal reflection? What internal reflection?

Will there been any review of the selection process either organization uses before entrusting tax dollars and other resources to a nonprofit? It doesn’t appear so.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH asked the KCRHA spokesperson if there will be an internal review to ensure that properly vetted organizations get institutional support moving forward.

“Again, Anything Helps had a relationship with Seattle Public Schools to work at the Bitter Lake encampment, and the RHA’s goal was to support them in helping those people get housed,” the spokesperson responded. “As the lead organization at that encampment, they were provided an opportunity to make referrals so that the people living there could apply for vouchers and move from homeless to housed.”

It happened again? Yes, it will happen again.

It’s obviously rare that the person contracted to help the homeless will see a personal failure in this way. It obviously can happen. It’s unclear how much vetting for this particular issue can realistically be done.

But vetting can be done to ensure an organization has a track record of addressing major encampment cleanups before given the task. SPS leadership botched the selection of the nonprofit and, given that it subsequently refused to clear the encampment until free housing was available, it makes sense. The school district was only in it for the housing vouchers and cared little about how the cleanup would unfold.

You can also vet an organization’s structure so that if allegations come up, you’re confident they’ll be handled appropriately. KCRHA did no meaningful vetting. They handed out housing vouchers to an organization that couldn’t effectively handle internal mismanagement. KCRHA did not act as responsible stewards of our tax dollars.

That neither SPS nor KCRHA seem interested in even an internal review of what happened and why suggests they hope this controversy merely goes away. But without addressing the ways in which both organizations dropped the ball, it’s almost certainly going to happen again.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

seattle police, traffic stops...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: New equity policy bars Seattle Police from some traffic stops, opens door to more car theft

Seattle Police are now barred from many non-criminal traffic stops after activists claimed concerns over equity.
2 days ago
Sheriff Fortney...
KTTH staff

Snohomish County Sheriff Fortney will run for re-election after failed recall effort

After a failed recall effort against him last year, Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney says he will run for office again in 2023.
3 days ago
MultiCare hospitals...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: MultiCare hospitals order symptomatic COVID-positive staff to see patients

MultiCare Health Systems is forcing COVID-positive staff to work at its area hospitals, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned.
4 days ago
Redistricting ,senator...
KTTH staff

State senator escorted out after not submitting negative COVID test

State Senator Phil Fortunato was escorted out of the Legislative building in Olympia because he had not submitted a required negative COVID test.
4 days ago
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, coronavirus...
KTTH staff

‘They never could figure me out’: Former King County Sheriff looks back on shortened tenure

Former King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht left office at the end of 2021, and spoke to KTTH's Jason Rantz Show this week to reflect on her tenure.
4 days ago
transgender, gender...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: WA laws now allow teen gender reassignment surgery without parental consent

Washington state now appears to allow minors to undergo life-changing gender reassignment surgery without parental consent.
6 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Rantz: No plans to investigate massive Seattle homeless scandal, ensuring it happens again