This post is based on some emails I received from one of our translators. It illustrates how badly the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged Seattle and the outlying areas. I wanted to share this with our readers:
I am now up in Bellingham, a small college town 90 miles up the coast from Seattle. Seattle (where I recently spent some time) is mostly shut down, and it has a lot of problems with homelessness; there are encampments everywhere, and apparently there was also a riot downtown a few days back. I found it difficult to work there so 2 weeks back I rented a room in Bellingham where I can sit and work around the clock in peace.
Seattle has declined badly despite the booming high tech sector led by Amazon…. Homeless people (most of them mentally disturbed and/or on drugs) everywhere, tent cities large and small everywhere, garbage strewn everywhere…. it was frankly pretty shocking to see it, and Tokyo (where I have lived for most of the last few years) compares very favorably to it. Tokyo: Clean, organized, efficient and safe.
Bellingham is also shut down for the most part, not that it was particularly vibrant and dynamic and riveting before….
Most of the big west coast cities have bad homelessness issues…. There is going to have to be a federal program to address it. And it is going to have to involve mental health care and drug rehab facilities, it is the only possible solution.
I grew up in Seattle, and I never could have imagined the stuff I saw there. 2 weeks ago I went to Enterprise downtown to rent a car to drive up here, and there was a tent city (about 10 tents) on the street right outside Enterprise, on 3rd Avenue between Pine and Stewart. Seattle had a skid row when I was growing up, there were panhandlers and beggars on occasion, but this reminded me of the stuff that I have seen in Paris and Amsterdam in recent years… and at times of stuff I saw on my 4 trips to India and many trips to China. A totally different level of poverty and despair. It was shocking, and the city has to have federal help to address it. Same with Portland, San Francisco, LA… the problem cannot be addressed locally, it is a national problem now.
It is really sad to see this. I never would have imagined it could get this bad, and some of the people are mentally disturbed and potentially dangerous.