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Wealth & Poverty Review Emerald Trash Heap

Seattle is overwhelmed by garbage and filth, but the city’s leaders won’t admit it. Originally published at City Journal

Over the past few years, Seattle has become a dumping ground for millions of pounds of garbage, needles, feces, and biohazardous waste, largely emanating from the hundreds of homeless encampments that have sprouted across the city. Now, the Emerald City is on the verge of a full-blown public-health crisis. Last year saw a 400 percent increase in HIV infections among mostly homeless addicts and prostitutes in the city’s northern corridor. Public-health officials are sounding the alarms about the return of diseases like typhus, tuberculosis, and trench fever. Even the region’s famed mussels and clams have tested positive for opioids.

While anyone who travels through Seattle can see the trash and litter along the roadside and green spaces, I wanted to understand the scale of the problem with more quantitative precision. Last month, I requested from the city all public complaints about trash, needles, tents, feces, and biohazardous waste from 2018. I then geocoded each complaint to create a data visualization that I call the Great Seattle Trash Map. The map documents more than 19,000 citizen complaints, from mundane reports of abandoned appliances to more serious pleas to clean up dangerous waste. Each data point on the map demonstrates that homeless encampments, opioid addiction, and mental illness have created significant disorder in almost every corner of Seattle.

Continue Reading at City Journal

Christopher Rufo

Former Director, Center on Wealth & Poverty
Christopher Rufo is former director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He has directed four documentaries for PBS, Netflix, and international television, including his latest film, America Lost, that tells the story of three "forgotten American cities.” Christopher is currently a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers poverty, homelessness, addiction, crime, and other afflictions. Christopher is a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow, and has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC, CBS, HLN, and FOX News.