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People camping underneath Interstate 5 in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District. An encampment was recently removed just blocks from this location. Photo by the author.

Removals of homeless encampments, often called “sweeps,” cause both economic harm and severe emotional trauma for people who are living unsheltered. Here in Seattle, the controversial practice is carried out by the Human Services Department and the Navigation Team and has not proven to be effective at connecting people with shelter or other services. Sadly, while encampment removals have been defended as a way to protect homeless people from crime and predation, the removals themselves have often violated the very civil liberties that our local government is charged with protecting.

A new bill before City Council aims to address such…


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Volunteers building and painting tiny houses at Georgetown Village in March of 2017. Photo by the author.

On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council passed legislation that increases the number of tiny house villages that may be permitted within the City. The bill, introduced in draft form last August but delayed by State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeal, was sponsored by Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

The new legislation makes a number of changes to the permitting process for transitional homeless encampments. Chief among them are: removing restrictions on which zones encampments may reside in; increasing the maximum number of encampments permitted as interim uses from three to 40; and allowing encampments to renew their permits in perpetuity.

The bill…


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Photo by Edward Bullitis

Tomorrow, February 18th, Seattle City Council will vote on Council Bill 119656, legislation that would loosen restrictions on sanctioned homeless encampments. The following is an endorsement of that bill written on behalf of AIA Seattle. Official endorsement is here. If you’d like to support the bill, please send Council members a message.

Update: CB 119656 passed. I wrote a follow-up story about how the bill may shape the future of Seattle’s transitional encampments.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Seattle Chapter endorses Seattle Council Bill 119656, which would allow more transitional homeless encampments throughout the city and give organizations hosting…


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Photo by Tony Webster

It was an early 2:00am morning in January of 2018, and the four of us were driving from Seattle to a church in Bellevue, a nearby city on the other side of Lake Washington. There, in a crowded gymnasium stocked with coffee, bagels, and bananas, we were given a map and assigned a region of the city about a square mile in size.

For the next four hours we, along with hundreds of other volunteers in the region and thousands more nationwide, would be driving around in the dark, checking off each street as we went, looking for visible signs…


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Photo by Ronald Woan

Co-authored by Emily Darling, Alexander Froehlich, and Anton Dekom.

With election day fast approaching, races for seven of Seattle’s nine City Council seats are entering the final stretch. Over the last weeks and months, many of the candidates have described their positions at in-person candidate forums and in online questionnaires. There is a lot of information out there to digest, and we thought it would be valuable to aggregate some of what council candidates have said on issues related to housing affordability and homelessness.

What follows is really the most abbreviated, compact version of what the candidates have to say…


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Photo by John Henderson

For the past year the Committee on Homelessness (COHO) has been working on crafting AIA Seattle’s positions and priorities related to local homeless policy. I’m happy to announce that that effort recently concluded with AIA’s board of directors voting to approve COHO’s policy statement on September 19th.

A lot of very intelligent and thoughtful people authored and contributed to this document, and each word of each bullet point was painstakingly argued in meetings, in comments on Google documents, and sometimes over cheap beers. Throughout the process, many people with different opinions on this very sensitive and politically charged issue were…


What follows is an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to AIA Seattle’s Public Policy Board (PPB) back in March as part of a process (that is still ongoing) to develop a stronger “policy statement” related to the homelessness crisis in our region.

Whereas the policy statement itself is primarily concerned with the what — what policies can alleviate the challenges facing those who are living without shelter? — the letter was intended to address the why — why is homelessness an issue that architects specifically should be concerned with?

In the interest of keeping this succinct and accessible…

Anton Dekom

Architect and advocate for affordable housing, density, and for those living unsheltered.

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