Cook
Cook

Our humanity is the one definite thing we all have in common with each other. Though we all may come from different places, look differently, speak differently, and make different choices, we are all human. I do believe we all need to be reminded of this. With that being said, in no way is enabling an addict to feed their addiction or shelving someone in a shack without any opportunity for sobriety or stability compassionate.

Compassion is not giving an addict a needle to inject their drug of choice. Compassion is not giving an addict a comfortable place to inject heroin or meth without any consequences. Hiding an addict inside a shack where they are free to shoot up or dedicating an entire site to injecting suffering people with heroin does not make the drug abuse go away. Or their addictions. If someone you love was or is suffering from addiction, would you hand them the needle? Would you hand over the key to their own personal injection room? Enabling an addict to abuse their drug of choice is no form of “shared humanity” or a form of compassion. When you give someone nothing else to live for, they have nothing else to turn to, but the needle.

Compassion is not making someone move from temporary home to temporary home with no route to permanent housing. Shelving people in shacks without any form of treatment or rehabilitation is not sharing our humanity. Addicts and the mentally ill are some of our most vulnerable. Continuing to allow these suffering individuals to live in shack encampments leaves them susceptible to human trafficking, assaults, and exposure to bacterial disease that results from the accumulation of filth and human waste.

Compassion is helping these individuals get back on the right path, where they are no longer saying hello to you from the pavement, but from a place that they can call their own home. Putting someone in a shack without any sort of structure that encourages transition into permanent housing is not going to improve anyone’s homeless situation. Encampments or any homeless program that’s main objective is not transitioning homeless individuals into stable housing is a failure from the start. The Lake Union encampment in South Lake Union is just that. The shack encampment is set up under the same structure of its now-closed predecessor, Licton Springs. The Lake Union encampment will be soon to follow, leaving its residents once again without any avenue out of the vicious cycle of homelessness.

The supposed advocates for the less fortunate are the same nonprofit and grassroot organizations that are holding hostile takeovers of taxpayer-funded shack encampments. Refusing city officials entry to city property. These same groups are using homeless individuals who are simply trying to get their lives back on track as their own political pawns. Yes, I am talking about you, Nickelsville. If you haven’t already heard, an organizer with the group is being accused of mandating that tiny shack encampment residents must participate in political activism to be able to stay at the encampment. Disguising the requirement as “participation credit.” These are the same organizations that have failed to show any transparency on the outcomes in their use of public funds. Proving to be the only ones that stand to benefit from low-barrier shack encampment proposals, or anything like it.

Housing people to continue to pursue their addictions and succumb to their mental health struggles is not shared humanity. Solutions are humanity. Providing homeless individuals with a pathway to stability and sobriety is sharing our humanity.

Matthew Cook is a volunteer with Unified Seattle, a group that actively opposes tiny house villages and has ties to the Neighborhood Safety Alliance and Safe Seattle groups. Cook lives with his family in Seattle, where he’s an accountant.