Editor,

Dear Mayor Durkan and Seattle City Council,

You know about the complex problems facing lower Queen Anne, Uptown, but perhaps not the way someone who has lived here for 20 years. You cannot experience these things driving through.

Before the pandemic, I would converse with homeless at the grocery store entrances or street corners, so that they might feel someone cares. I would purchase a requested meal, a pack of Ensure for a rail thin man, the sandwich another asked for. He couldn’t eat the apple, didn’t have teeth; how could I not have thought of that? I was cautious at night but didn’t worry by daylight.

Since the pandemic and massive increase of desperation, I fear contact might agitate. A friend who also lives here prohibited me from walking the three blocks to the store, past an encampment of tents that come and go.

Plenty of shoppers still, usually at least one person yelling guttural hatred, the air dangerous, frightening at times, but I felt I could handle it. It was insanity, abusive, yet just words.

Then my upstairs neighbor was assaulted, struck from behind on her way back from the market at 5:30 p.m. Head thrust against the brick wall, she fell to her feet, half gallon of milk weight on her back, sprained her ankle, miraculously not worse. She filed a report, helped by several officers over the phone.

She was told that without photo ID, and as policing staff is down by 20 percent in the past two years, an arrest was unlikely.

One officer said to carry bear spray — he does. Two weeks later, I saw a long-handled switchblade on the ground right where she was struck.

Now I look ahead and behind; I cross the street when anyone’s appearance makes me question if they might be dangerous. I have a few times rushed back home to get away from someone screaming. The sidewalks are narrow.

Walking by encampments, one may see red wine poured like a painting on the sidewalk. Evening brings flashes of rat tails.

My friend saw a man a half block walk away shoot his gun because of road rage. I saw a fire smoldering in a shopping cart. I heard of a fire in Pesos restaurant and that someone poured kerosene in the post office while customers were in line. The worst so far was a two-alarm fire at the abandoned nightclub near the Space Needle, which took almost 100 firefighters to extinguish.

I met a woman with a walker coming up my street who told me that the homeless are her friends. She is a former teacher but now grateful that they bring her clothes from dumpsters. She invites them to her apartment in a subsidized building. She said come by if ever I need anything. She believes she has early stages of dementia, but I envy her fearlessness and miss mine.

Where is the woman with a skin disease who couldn’t stay in a shelter, who heard ghosts of the Duwamish whose land we stole, who invited me to share her tent? Where is the woman who wore a necklace of Christmas ornaments, grateful for a couple dollars and a Larabar? How many of the homeless are themselves victims of crimes and assaults? How many will die in fires as happened recently in Mount Baker?

My neighbor was happy with how the police treated her. She is white.

I asked a Black friend if he would he call upon the police? He paused, said no. I understand. He has been harassed just for the color of his skin. He does not want to defund the police.

I said what good are police if you can’t call? He wants reforms; he said I need bear spray. I have my water bottle and am not the bear spray-type.

I’m glad we don’t arrest people for being homeless and ship them out to be someone else’s problem like surrounding suburban towns. The people who assault and start fires are a minority, but it seems like they cannot be stopped. 

I hope this letter conveys what it is like within these city blocks. I’m also sending this to a member of the Uptown Alliance.

My friend in next door Belltown could tell you her version of neighborhood horror those all across our city face.

Queen Anne —the police maps show — is in the deepest dark endangered blue. I know from your website that homelessness is a priority. More help is urgently needed.

Carrie Albert,

Uptown

 

— To submit a letter to the editor, email it to editor Jessica Keller at qamagnews@pacificpublishingcompany.com. Please include your name and neighborhood in which you live. Letters may be edited for space and grammar.