[Group post by Urban Sketchers Seattle] Seattle’s homelessness problem is a growing crisis. A count
taken in 2016 found 4,505 people without shelter, an increase of 19
percent over the previous year. To raise awareness of this critical issue and
work toward finding solutions, more than 30 local news media outlets created a media blitz
today, June 28, with the hashtag #SeaHomeless (a national effort is being
blitzed today with the hashtag #500kHomeless). Several members of USk Seattle took part by
sketching individuals or their makeshift shelters around town.
Steve Reddy (sketch at top of post):
Jackie and I ran the waterfront to train for races and
passed by this camp near the school bus parking lot under the Magnolia Bridge.
We ran by many times before we decided to bring sketchbooks and draw it.
No one was there to ask permission, but Jackie left $10, and I brought a print
of the drawing the next time I ran by. Don’t know if that was a good idea or
not. Who knows how the camper felt about finding a drawing of his camp.
The August  Seattle Urban Sketchers sketchcrawl just so
happened to be on the same day as the Seattle Hempfest, the same day the Seattle
Police Department’s Public Affairs Office gave out Doritos with a sticker on
the package highlighting the details of the new Washington marijuana
legislation I-502. As I walked the waterfront looking for a good sketch
subject, I passed these two. Their sign said, “We need Like Seven
Dollars.” I gave them 10, and asked if they minded if I sat and sketched
them. They told me their names were Lucky Charms and Miss Moon Cricket. While I
was sketching, two Seattle Park Rangers came by and told them some tourists
told them that the two were shouting profanities. Lucky and Miss Moon yelled
over to me to ask me to confirm that they hadn’t said anything profane. I said,
“No, I didn’t hear anything,” and proceeded to talk for a bit to the
Rangers. After they left, Lucky asked me, “Do you know what our sign
means?” “No,” I said. “Like Seven Dollars – don’t you get
it?” “Ah, yes I get it!”
Here is a small watercolor of the vehicles of the homeless
folks who were living under the Ballard Bridge [sketched in February]. They
have put up a tall fence around this area under the bridge, forcing the homeless
folks to live in the parking lot next to the bridge that is used by the
Maritime Academy folks.
A homeless gentleman living under an overpass in the SODO
area of Seattle. He was the only person in this particular area. He was very
reserved so we didn’t talk much before he returned to his phone. He did say he
was working a series of part time jobs but he was homeless because he couldn’t
earn enough to afford rent anywhere near, or afford to live further out and
This person was taking shelter for the night in a storefront
in West Seattle. The store had closed for the day and the doorway was recessed
and offered some shelter from the modest rain forecast that night. The person
had taken the carts that contained all their stuff and had pulled them into a
little makeshift shelter. . . . This person was bundled up as if it were
freezing out. The height of that hat with the hood over it is not exaggerated,
and the jackets worn were thick and heavily layered. The night was typical for
this time of year, with a forecast low of about 60 [degrees Fahrenheit], so
pretty warm overall.
off ramp. There are about a dozen or so tents and assorted boxes and bags and
belongings scattered about under the bridge, and normally I see at least a few
people around. This is a heavily used exit from the bridge for folks wanting to
get to the south end of downtown. The exit is a prime area for panhandling with
all the traffic coming off the bridge and the lights stopping the cars that
gives the panhandlers time to be noticed by drivers.
While joined USk sketching at Fremont last Sunday, saw him
in front of PCC market, asked me for a pen to write his sign. I gave a brush
pen. He was happy about it, and I was able to sketch him in return.
When I approached a group of people at Westlake Park and explained that I was hoping to sketch and talk to someone experiencing homelessness, the first question I got was: “Do we get paid?”
My negative answer elicited some disappointment, but after I explained that I was part of a group of artists with no funding, simply hoping to draw attention to homelessness in Seattle, someone raised his hand.
“I’m very homeless,” said Nathaniel Simon, a 37-year-old Seahawks fan who likes to greet people with an elbow bump.
Simon, who has been homeless for 15 years, traced the root of his situation to run-ins with the law when he was growing up in Honolulu. He said he first got in trouble for stealing mopeds. Later in life, adversities piled up. He said he got shot in Las Vegas, suffered from drug addiction and is currently battling throat cancer.
When I asked Simon what could someone have done for him along the way to prevent him from becoming homeless, he shared this memory from his childhood: “I wish my grandfather would have taken me surfing more …. That would have kept me out of trouble.”