Seattle’ Homeless Aristocracy

A recent article in the Seattle Times [Vianna Davila, and Jonathan Marin. “Project Homeless: Spike in Infectious Diseases in Homeless Raises Alarm; Increase Indicative of Larger Population; Health Board Calls For More Hygiene Services”, in Seattle Times, March 16, 2018. pp. B1, B4.] discusses the growing public health menace posed by the homeless and the mountains of garbage, feces and rats they bring to the inner city. Here is the substance of the article (with some clarifications — who really knows about “Trench Fever” anymore?):

Seattle-King County Public Health is reporting a surge in infectious disease among the homeless, including group A Streptococcus, shigella, a rare group of lice transmitted infections, Bartonella quintana [“trench fever” disease spread by lice; originally known as Rochalimaea quintana, and Rickettsia quintana], the winter flu, the highly contagious respiratory syncytial virus, and Hepatitis A, a potentially fatal disease spread in the San Diego CBD by homeless. In San Diego Hepatitis A it killed 27 homeless people; one case has been found in Seattle. [San Diego was forced to wash streets and sideways with bleach to deal with the accumulation of disease-ridden feces.] Strep A spread through open wounds can become necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria). Strep cases almost doubled from 2016-2017 to 219 in 2017. In 2017 there were 164 cases of shigella, a highly contagious diarrhea spread by lice. According to last year’s one-night count, more than 5,485 homeless people were unsheltered in King County, [about 1% of the population], which has doubled since 2013. [Unofficial counts are much higher.] >The City is aware of the problem but has done little in the last decade and does not plan to provide even adequate public toilets for the foreseeable future.


At the same time, because of a ruling by a local judge, homeless living in cars and trucks cannot be moved because their vehicle now constitutes…. a Homestead, under the Homestead Act of 1862. And so, for those people who came to Seattle (as many as 1000 per week) who get high tech jobs at Amazon (e.g., packing boxes of “What Happened” for shipment) and cannot afford an apartment, the golden wisdom of the courts have granted them the right to live in their cars, un-harrassed. These tech grunts have suddenly emerged, in the full light of day, as the Homeless Aristocracy of Seattle.

Oh, brave new world.

(Tertullian once wrote that the pleasure of those in Heaven is magnified by witnessing the misery of those in Hell: So it must be for the judges of the King County Court House, glancing down from their luxurious offices at the ring of homeless tents, trash and feces that form a fetid crust around the building and flowing into a nearby park.)