Dave – One piece of the puzzle that is homelessness 


As I was walking down Washington Street NE last Friday morning, a homeless man standing in the shadows of the alley next to SK Market hailed me.  “How ya doin’.  “I haven’t seen you in quite a while.” 

Not sure who was speaking I turned and said, “Hello.  Do I know you?” 

As a big grin crossed his face he said, “I’m Dave, and I remember you from when I was here last year.” 

For the next 15 minutes or so, Dave told me that he could not remember how long he had been unhoused, that he traveled around a lot, that he wasn’t sure where to go for assistance and that he was okay with me taking a photograph of him. 

When I finished taking a few images, I told him I would walk with him over to the Union Gospel Mission and that the people who work there could help him. 

He politely declined my offer saying, “Nah, I think I’ll just stay here for a while.  I’ve nothing better to do.” 

As I walked away, his response left me puzzled.  On the one hand, Dave needed some help; on the other, he didn’t want to be helped.  It’s a situation that leaves me wondering what we must do as a community to significantly curtail – if not end – homelessness in Olympia. 


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  • Chloeandme

    Something I have encouraged others to embrace. All of us have rights.......to succeed or to fail.

    Friday, May 17 Report this

  • TheGreatAnon

    That's mighty White of you JM. Though you might help him out. Do a good deed. Make you feel better.

    Dave doesn't want your help, just your recognition, maybe a few minutes of companionship. I'm sure Dave knows all about Union Gospel services and wants nothing from those well meaning Christians. Get over yourself so you can meet people as equals, not a project.

    Saturday, May 18 Report this

  • JulesJames

    If someone is unwilling the shoulder the responsibilities of a fixed place residence, why do we describe them as "unhoused"? Why have "transient" and "vagrant" -- both far more accurate descriptors of the condition -- been banished from our vocabulary? Perhaps a more accurate identification of this problem plaguing the West Coast might help finding effective solutions?

    Saturday, May 18 Report this


    Gee "Great" anon, how judgemental of you, interpreting an act of kindness offered to another human being and turning it into an "antiracist" call-out. Must weigh heavily on you to be the moral arbiter of our civilization. Do you know Dave? Do you know JM (or what race he is?). I'm sure it doesn't matter to you. But keep up the good work trying to make people feel guilty for doing the right thing.

    Saturday, May 18 Report this

  • pbaron1902

    Don't believe attacking JM is helping anything. He is merely reporting Dave's situation and attitude.

    Homelessness affects the community in negative ways. It's a multi-faceted probem we're trying to understand and reduce.

    Carry on, JM. Maybe one of your contacts will provide a clue to solution!

    Saturday, May 18 Report this

  • MamaBear

    I'm with JulesJames. Let's quit using euphemisms and start enforcing the law.

    Saturday, May 18 Report this

  • Dogfreak

    People do not look at this problem realistically and it's weighed heavy on our communities.

    Cover your eyes and babble about people's rights, and not people's safety or the safety of the community as a whole

    Saturday, May 18 Report this

  • WA_Mojo

    Dave is a bum

    Sunday, May 19 Report this

  • Mugwump

    I suspect "Dave" doesn't want to live by society's rules. He would rather be "free" to do what he wants to do. A house is just an anchor around his neck pulling him down into the ugly realities of living in a civil society. I've got a tip for "Dave". Hey buddy, Capitol Forest is right there. Go. Be free.

    Sunday, May 19 Report this

  • JKRector

    Unhoused individuals (or families) within a community…

    - Good for the person(s) without safe shelter?

    - Good for the community of safely sheltered people?

    Safety in the form of shelter is essential - it is near the foundation on Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, just after the bedrock physiological needs for food, water, warmth, and rest. Bodily safety and security from attack are what safe shelter helps to provide.

    When you lack safe shelter, surviving (forget about thriving) is precarious at best. Not until you obtain safety can you be fully equipped to engage with belonging/love.

    True, not everyone who is housed attains feelings of belonging/love, nor esteem/respect or self actualization. Safe shelter “for all” is only a step in the right direction for those without it, and proof of community belonging for those who do.

    Sunday, May 19 Report this

  • ChuckCross

    Homelessness is perennial -- it has existed in our Country for decades. It will not be removed from our society. However, society could elect to provide safe housing for those who comprise our homeless population. I have heard that Finland has done a great job of addressing the needs of the homeless, by providing safe housing and other support.

    Tuesday, May 21 Report this

  • Oly1963

    Thank you Jules - this person isn't "unhoused" and he isn't "homeless". He's a vagrant and we have laws about that. There are services available for people who WANT to use them. These services have rules - as all societies do; they offer a pathway to homes, jobs, sobriety, all the things OUR society requires and expects - it's the American dream. But if a person chooses to turn their back, and not obey OUR rules that do consider them and their needs, then that's their choice. There a consequences - not everyone gets a trophy in life. There really are people who don't want to "win" - and it's OK. But that doesn't mean my taxes need to feed, cloth and "house" someone who doesn't want it and who isn't going to benefit. Give these people what they need -mental health support, help with addiction or help to jail if they break the law! But get the vagrants off our streets and let's give safety, law and order a try for our community,

    Tuesday, May 21 Report this