You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Why are so many of Seattle's citizens living on the streets?

CBS News logo CBS News 11/27/2019 CBSNews
a train is parked on the side of a building: 60minutesunshelteredpreview0.jpg © Credit: CBSNews 60minutesunshelteredpreview0.jpg

A homeless postal worker and a 3-year-old who spent last winter living in a tent with his parents are among the people Anderson Cooper meets as he examines the dramatic rise in the number of "unsheltered" Americans in Seattle and other cities. Cooper's report will appear on the next edition of 60 Minutes, Sunday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS.


"Unsheltered" is a term used to refer to homeless people who do not have a spot in a homeless shelter. They often sleep on the streets or in parks, in tent encampments or in vehicles. Over the past three years, there's been a dramatic rise in the number of unsheltered people in Seattle and other cities on the West Coast.


Emilee Broll has been delivering mail in Seattle for the U.S. Postal Service for nearly five years. For more than two years, she's been living in a rickety old RV parked by the side of a road, which meets the federal definition of unsheltered homelessness. She told Anderson Cooper she decided to live in a 42-year-old Dodge Commander, "because rent is obscene here. I can't afford it. I just think I'm working my butt off. And I don't want to just spend all of my money, paycheck to paycheck, just to survive."

For the past year and a half, Josiah and Tricia Wood have lived with their 3-year-old son Ethan in a tent encampment known as Tent City Three. Ethan has an enlarged heart and suffers from bouts of asthma and severe croup. Last winter, one of Seattle's coldest in recent memory, he was sleeping in a tent, sandwiched between his parents for warmth. Tricia and Josiah tell Anderson Cooper they are both in recovery from drug addiction and have been clean for nearly two years. Josiah works full-time, but they say it's been hard to save up enough money to get into an apartment and to find a landlord willing to take a chance on them.


"We will be out of here by winter," Josiah says. "I'm not going to allow my family to suffer again in the winter."


Cooper discusses the causes of the problem and possible solutions with Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, former city council candidate Ari Hoffman, professor Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania, and Jeff Gold, a college graduate who's been homeless for nearly six years.


The homeless population in the Seattle/King County area went down by 8% this year, according to government figures, yet an estimated 5,000 people remain without shelter as winter approaches in one of the wealthiest metropolitan areas in the country.


More from CBS News

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon