Seattleites Advocate For More Affordable Housing/Addiction Programs Until They Are In Their Own Neighborhood
In 2003 King County sets a goal to end homelessness by the year 2015, to accomplish this, Seattle must build 2,900 new service centers for the mentally ill, one building set to provide up to 80 open beds at initial release. A move to establish a Downtown Emergency Center in Rainier Valley sparks a two-year lawsuit between Rainier Valley Residents and D.E.S.C director Bill Hobson. The county did not meet this goal by 2015 when roughly 3,722 people experienced homelessness; A short article from Real Change was published in 2006 during the conflict.
Photo courtesy of Real Change
In years prior city funding and community support have enabled Planned Parenthood to provide payment plans for patients not covered by insurance. In March 2021, three Western Washington Planned Parenthood’s closed due to insufficient funding as a result of stigma around women’s health and reproductive rights. Their closure will severely limit access to reproductive care for more than 7,000 Washingtonians.
Photo taken by Saul Lobe, Getty images
In 2019, Washington Needle Exchange Programs and dispensaries were implemented across multiple counties and suburbias, but pushback from local residents has made implementation of the program near impossible. Two years prior, Seattle & King County Syringe Services Program reported that 83% of clients were using Heroin, 75% of them were also abusing Methamphetamine.
Photo courtesy of Seattle Times
Can Community Outreach Thaw Madison Valley’s Distrust of America’s First Health Center For AIDS/HIV?
A Brief History Of B.B.H
In 1992 Virginia Mason Medical Center developed America’s first program dedicated to treating patients with AIDS and HIV. The Bailey Boushay House was located in Madison Valley, a neighborhood just below Capitol Hill.
B.B.H housed patients suffering from terminal illnesses, and later expanded to offering chemical dependency support, a move that Madison Valley Residents strongly opposed.
Watch: Bailey Boushay House’s Homeless Shelter
What Services Does B.B.H Provide?
Inpatient Complex Care
HIV Outpatient Care
Chemical Dependency Support
End Of Life Care
But….Recent Events From Outpatient Clients
Have Strained B.B.H’s Relationship
With Madison Valley Residents
September 14, 2005
“The state has fined Seattle’s Bailey-Boushay House more than $8,000 for harm done to two residents in separate incidents involving smoking[…]One memory-impaired resident was found “yelling in pain” from burns on an eyelid, a palm, and his face from a brief flash fire that erupted while he was smoking and using an oxygen tank, according to the state’s report. He was hospitalized.”-Marsha King, Seattle Times
January 8, 2015
“A King County District Court judge on Thursday ordered two men held for investigation of assault and robbery[…]The East Madison Street address listed in the statement where Lang was arrested is the same address as the Bailey-Boushay House.”- Sarah Jean Green, Seattle Times
April 18, 2019
“William M. McMillian, 33, was asked to leave the emergency shelter on March 19, after he allegedly made sexual advances on another man staying there.
McMillian pushed past a security officer to regain entry to the facility[…] He punched a security guard in the face, breaking his glasses, and then punched and kicked another staff member, according to police records.
Once outside Bailey-Boushay House, McMillian broke eight windows using rocks, his feet and a newspaper box, according to police records, reaching into the offices on the other side and breaking computer monitors and a CPU unit.”-Brandon Macz, Madison Park Times
July 23rd, 2020
“Seattle Police took one person into custody after a man was stabbed in the back outside the Bailey-Boushay House care facility at E Madison and MLK early Thursday.
Seattle Fire and SPD were called to the scene around 6:15 AM to the reported stabbing by a known individual. The victim was treated at the scene outside the facility and rushed to the hospital.”-Capitol Hill, Seattle Blog
Madison Residents Are Afraid Of B.B.H
The Bailey Boushay House serves essential, necessary programs. However, some of their patients are highly disruptive They scare me. I use the bus and I have to wait in front of their main entrance, I believe their location is detrimental for the housing as well as the safety of the community. -Local Resident
The negative of BB is that crime has gone up in the neighborhood.-Local Resident
In order to gauge how my neighbors feel about The Bailey Boushay House, I asked them to fill out a short survey. Here was the verdict:
Graphic by Sumeya B.
What I learned
Of those who consumed media about B.B.H, 26% felt those portrayals were inaccurate
70.4% of people feel that their impression of B.B.H would change if B.B.H did more for Madison
After looking at the overall responses to my survey, I realized that the majority of people in the neighborhood don’t know a great deal about the Bailey Boushay House, or the small things they do know about it is what they see, I think that this is one of the reasons why so many people are afraid of the center. Unfortunately, the violence associated with B.B.H and the number of arrests overshadows all the good the programs they supply do for the community. My own impression of The Bailey Boushay House was very negative until researching it for this project, because of how many used needles litter the outside of the building.
Despite these negative sides of the center, I don’t think it should go away; Seattle’s homelessness and addiction crisis is unavoidable. The first step may be to rally for more programs dedicated to fighting addiction, but if Seattleites aren’t willing to have those programs in their own communities, nothing will change.
So What Now?
The stigma around mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness are not only based on fear, they are based on a lack of knowledge of the issue. Steps need to be taken within communities to work through bias, re-educate others, and make centers and public health facilities an integral part of the neighborhoods they reside in. The process of doing that involves empathy and upholding respect for shared community spaces.
Call To Action
Now that you know a little bit more about the importance of working to destigmatize access to health for underserved communities, I encourage you to look into your own neighborhood and think of ways you can work to recognize your own bias, is there a place in your community that you avoid or dislike or that feels unwelcome? I encourage you to learn more about why you feel that way and take action to dismantle those perceived notions and start a conversation!
Here is a Padlet I made where I am brainstorming ways to mend the relationship between B.B.H and Madison Valley, please join me in doing the same! Feel free the share links to organizations or programs that come to mind, and ideas you have for community outreach in your neighborhood or school! I look forward to having this conversation with all of you. Please feel free to share any feedback with me in the comments, or share your own story.