Why efforts to reduce homelessness in Seattle have fallen short

VIDEO: Rewatch the full Crosscut Festival discussion, “We Are All Homeless,” here.

Confronting homelessness will also require people to look more critically inward at their own prejudices toward others, according to LaMont Green, CEO of the Racial Equity Action Lab, who believes the magnitude of homelessness boils down to our social norms.

“What are the biases and stigmas that we hold about people living homeless?” Green said. “About these mostly Black, brown and Indigenous people, these disabled people? We don’t want to go to the dark place of what we think about that population.”

Homelessness disproportionately affects people and households of color, according to 2022 data shared on the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s website.

The issue of homelessness must be addressed collectively, not just by the government, but across the board. Green urged people to look more seriously at the ways “nice, progressive, liberal racism” shows up in the region.

“A lot of our unhoused neighbors are carrying an immense amount of pain and trauma,” said Green, who personally experienced homelessness and addiction. “And most are the victims of racism, ableism, cisgenderism, transphobia. And we forget that in our compassion fatigue. We want to have our beautiful sidewalks and our beautiful parks. Let’s just sweep them away because we want our neighborhoods back.”