Published via KING-5 on April 27, 2018
Washington's homelessness crisis is spilling over into highway rest stops. It's a problem the Washington State Patrol sees night after night -- people sleeping in their cars.
Even though the sign says camping is prohibited, Richard Haddock says he's been living in his truck in the parking lot, on and off, for the last three years.
"That guy in that jeep right next to me is also homeless," said Haddock as he opened the door to his truck. He said he sleeps in the driver's seat, and everything he owns is in the back.
Donna Hogeberg volunteers at the rest area and has seen the problem get worse over the years.
"It is consuming the rest area. We are full up at night, every single parking place is full with people who are spending the night," said Hogeberg. "We see the families. We see the young kids come up and ask for cookies and that might be their breakfast for the day."
Washington State Patrol sees it, too.
"We saw families living out of a van or a car with kids. We ran into young, young kids, toddlers down here in the middle of winter with their parents," said Trooper Chase Van Cleave.
So Friday night, Troopers teamed up with local community groups to help. Catholic Community Services of King County, Valley Cities Behavioral Health Care, Multi-Service Center, Domestic Abuse Women's Network, South Sound Dream Center, and Help Northwest were all on hand Friday. The nonprofits brought lists of resources along with food and blankets.
"We want to get people out of calling this home whether it is for a night or a week or a month, and back on track to whatever their goals, whatever they want to do with their lives. We want to help get them to that," said Trooper Van Cleave.
What Richard wants is to stop living at the rest stop.
"This out here is no fun and games to any of us," said Haddock.