The crows are going crazy outside (I’ve decided they are American crows, not northwestern crows), and I’ve been reading Real Change, the weekly newspaper sold by homeless people in Seattle. (Denver has a version called the Denver Voice, but it comes out only once a month. I’ll bet you’ve never heard of the North American Street Newspaper Association and an International Network of Street Papers.)

One thing I noticed about Ballard is that homeless people live here. I’ve seen a gray-haired woman arranging her stuff night after night in a doorway on NW Market. Now that storefront has brown paper in the windows, which means it’s being renovated. I hope she’ll be able to sleep there after the new establishment opens. (I was really tempted to take a picture of her gathering up her things in the mornings, but it seemed invasive.)

I’ve also seen two different men, one of whom regularly checks trash and recycling cans. I’ve never seen him pull anything out, so I don’t know if he’s looking for food or something he can sell to get a little money. I see these people fairly late on weekdays and weekends, around 8:30 or 9 in the morning.

Chronic homelessness is getting more attention these days than it used to, which is all to the good. People whose substance abuse or mental illness drove them to homelessness are not going to get off the street without a lot of intervention.

In Missoula, unlike Seattle, the situation for the homeless seemed ambiguous to me. People I met in Montana told me something to the effect that other cities in Montana send their homeless to Missoula. Yet Missoula had signs like this one. Beth Partin's photos, Missoula homelessI don’t recall seeing homeless people in downtown Missoula. I think city officials in Missoula, like officials in Boulder, discourage street people from spending much time downtown so that it looks prettier.

My preference is to have them front and center, not invisible. That way we don’t find it so easy to forget about them.

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