Homelessness, story by story

Arrival in the Jungle

A brief story about one couple who moved to Olympia, homeless


Casey and Bridget entered The Jungle from the Martin Way entry point on the morning of Thursday, May 11, 2023. 

Both are from Portland, Oregon. He said he had been homeless for several years; she said she was escaping an abusive family situation.  Deciding to live together, they boarded a bus and headed north to Olympia, Washington.

He is 28 and did most of the talking.  She is 24 and seemed to defer to him.  Both mentioned they smoked marijuana but did not use any other drugs.

“We heard that we could get some good benefits and stuff here,” commented Casey.  “Most of what we have with us we were just given.”

They had received some clothes and blankets.  Other than that, they had the clothes on their backs and a few personal items.  Among the items Bridget carried was a stuffed animal.

What they didn’t have was a tent or tarp or sleeping bags, or any materials with which to fashion some sort of house.  They also had no food or water.

“I’m sure we can get something to eat and drink,” continued Casey, “and I can find some other stuff to make something to live in.”

The couple spent about 20 minutes walking past piles of trash, abandoned shopping carts and the make-shift structures that other homeless individuals live in as they looked for a place to build a shelter.

“I am looking for a spot under some trees,” explained Casey as we walked along, “and then I will get some wood and tarps and build something for us to stay in.”  He mentioned that he wanted them to live away from others.

“We just don’t want to be around other people,”  he commented.

Following a less worn path, they found and crossed a bridge made of wood pallets to cross a small wetland and then moved uphill to a spot that Casey seemed satisfied with.

“I guess this is where we’ll start,” he said as he dropped his belongings onto the ground. 

“We’ve got nowhere else to go.”

As I left, I mentioned to them that they if they needed help, they could find it at the Union Mission Gospel.

“I’m not sure about that,” Casey said.  “I’ve heard it’s not safe.”

JM Simpson is a veteran photojournalist who lives in Lacey.


5 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • AugieH

    Except for the fact that Bridget "was escaping an abusive family situation," the writer of this piece makes no mention of what other circumstances and decisions got these two individuals to this point. Does the "photo" part of "photojournalist" prevent the "journalist" part from asking about and reporting such? Perhaps next time a JOLT investigative journalist could tag along with the photojournalist to flesh out the story. You think?

    Saturday, May 20, 2023 Report this

  • JulesJames

    Thank you for this story. Would love more about others and perhaps a check-in on Bridget and Casey in a month. Transient stories always must be taken as blends of fact and fantasy. The needs of basic daily survival outweigh confines of telling the truth. But exposing lies won't change Bridget and Casey's path. So lets just follow without judgement and learn what we learn.

    Saturday, May 20, 2023 Report this

  • WA_Mojo

    Human sponges.

    Sunday, May 21, 2023 Report this

  • Eickholt

    I think it’s fair to infer, based on National Numbers, that American style Capitalism doesn’t work for everyone. I may be too generous but I believe most of our nations homeless populations would rather have a job and a place to live if given an opportunity. There will be corruption in any social program we create. Gore Vidal said, “Of course there’ll be corruption. It’s America.”

    Monday, May 22, 2023 Report this

  • MamaBeard

    You can find help at the Union Gospel Mission . . . "I'm not sure about that, I've heard it's not safe" . . . . Ummm . . . . . Please tell me this kind photojournalist reminded them WHERE exactly they were currently & maybe educated the newcomers a bit about I don't know maybe the Jingle's history would have been a good place to start

    Tuesday, May 23, 2023 Report this