The 'Find It, Fix It' App Increasingly Used to Roust the Homeless

Seattle's Find It, Fix It app plays a telling role in the city's approach to its homeless population. The question is whether the app is fixing anything for the people living on the street.
July 1, 2018, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Ethan Hickerson

Dae Shik Kim Hawkins reports:

Surrounded by the vibrant, emerald trees that give the city its nickname, Seattle’s Ravenna Woods seem like the perfect place for homeless people to build shelter without disrupting metropolitan life. If not for a large, homemade banner at the entrance of the encampment that read, “Do Homeless Lives Matter?” you might not even have noticed they were there.

Someone did notice, as Hawkins notes, and in December 2017, the city sent a notice of removal to the community living in Ravenna Woods. "The city would spend over $10 million on this and similar homeless sweeps in 2017 alone," according to Hawkins.

Enabling the process of discovering, warning, and eventually displacing homeless encampment is a mobile app with a much more benign stated purpose.

Encampments like the one in Ravenna Woods are reported to the city regularly. The City of Seattle even offers an app to make the process easier. The Find It, Fix It app was originally designed to allow community members to report potholes, dumping, signal issues, and other neighborhood problems. But the app has warped into a powerful instrument for high-tech community patrolling, enabling individuals to report abandoned vehicles and homeless encampments.

The article includes a lot of statistics to capture the scope of the homelessness problem in Seattle, while also telling the stories of homeless people living in Raveena Woods and how the city's approach to their communities has impacted their lives.

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, June 28, 2018 in The Atlantic
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