Homeless in Seattle

Bill Conroy
13 min readMay 20, 2023

Zoning reform is seen as key to creating more affordable housing and addressing rampant homelessness in the Seattle area

Downtown Seattle, near the waterfront, one of the city’s tourist draws. Photo by Kenneth J. Gill CC BY-SA 4.0

The homeless have multiplied on the streets of this country over the past four decades, creating a near-dystopian urban landscape in parts of many cities — a scene marked by sprawling roadside encampments, abandoned hope and general human misery.

And in few other places in the United States is the homelessness crisis more pronounced than in Seattle.

The Seattle area’s homeless population ranks as the fourth largest in the nation behind New York City, Los Angeles and California’s Bay Area — all of which have much larger metro areas. The city and the larger Puget Sound region it is part of currently face a seemingly intractable homelessness crisis that is being further exacerbated by a daunting shortage of affordable housing.

Throwing more government and corporate funding at the problem is arguably very necessary, yet it is still the same level of thinking that has been with us for years. In essence, the city has been reshuffling the lifeboats on the deck, but by any measure, the ship continues to sink.

Earlier this year, however, reports published by a prominent nonprofit think tank as well as a coalition of Seattle area corporate leaders each zeroed in on zoning reform as an essential…



Bill Conroy

Bill Conroy is an independent investigative journalist. For more information, check out billconroy.pressfolios.com.