SCC’s Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week: Day One

Here’s what you missed at ASG’s virtual documentary showings

Sean Moran, Staff writer

From Nov. 17-19, the Associated Student Government partnered with Student Life and the Benefits Hub to curate three virtual events dedicated to raising awareness for Seattleites suffering from housing displacement.

Documentaries Illustrate Disparities

On the first day of the events, two documentaries focused on Seattle’s ever-changing economic and political landscape and how it may have led to an increased rate of housing and food insecurity.

Produced by Fox News, the film “Left Behind: Homeless Crisis in Seattle,” offered insight into administrative spending and the progressive policies that have caused some locals to lose faith in their government’s ability to combat the growing homeless epidemic.

In the documentary, Fox News interviewed Najja Morris, Director for the LEAD National Support Bureau, an organization which seeks to reform the current criminal justice system and reduce mass incarceration.

Morris stated that there are too many elected officials with independent ideas on how to address homelessness and that the lack of a unified effort from the government has resulted in slow progress toward abating the crisis.

“Having the city council, the county council and the mayor’s office get on the same page has been almost impossible,” Morris said. According to the film, the city spent $78 million for homeless relief in 2018. Here is a rough breakdown of that spending:

Fox News also interviewed a small business owner named Jamaya who felt the growing presence of large tech companies is a major factor in the rise of housing insecurity.

“Amazon is growing, Microsoft and other tech businesses are here so real estate has gone up, rentals have gone up, people can’t hardly afford,” Jamaya said.

Gentrification has impacted large cities all across the U.S. According to the City of Seattle’s website, rising economic disparity and housing costs are leading contributors to the homeless crisis.

“What do they do when they can’t afford to pay their rent? Many of them end up on the streets, sadly,” Jamaya said regarding the displacement of lower-class residents.

An excerpt from the KOMO documentary “Seattle Is Dying” was viewed following “Left behind.”

This video focused on the voices of those affected by the homeless, with a call for greater policing of the homeless and an overhaul of City Council.

Audience Discussion

Governmental Affairs Officer Samira Jimaale led a discussion after the conclusion of the documentaries. Jimaale highlighted the stigma that surrounds homelessness.

“It’s not always self-inflicted, where they became homeless on their own actions; sometimes it’s circumstances,” Jimaale said.

ASG representative Joel Sitanggang recognized that the magnitude of the ongoing homeless crisis reveals how complex of a social issue it is.

“There have been solutions posited in the past, but the fact that homelessness is still a prevalent issue till this day just goes to show how really hard and cumbersome of a social matter it can be,” Sitanggang said.

Still, Sitanggang offered a positive sentiment for developing stronger support for the homeless: “It’s a matter of taking one small step at a time, rather than one substantial solution.”



Stay tuned for coverage of two more H&H events in the Dec. 10 edition of The Ebbtide.