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Will Ballard Celebrate Neighbor Appreciation Day?

A dispute over proposed homeless facilities in Ballard is raising questions about what it means to be a good neighbor.

By Hanna Brooks Olsen February 5, 2015 Published in the February 2015 issue of Seattle Met

On February 14 the City of Seattle encourages residents to celebrate Neighbor Appreciation Day, which is exactly what it sounds like: a day for neighbors to “express thanks to those who help make your neighborhood a great place to live.” It’s interesting timing, especially in light of the current dispute in Ballard over the nonprofit Low Income Housing Institute’s plan to open an Urban Rest Stop in the neighborhood.

Four days before Neighbor Appreciation Day, the Seattle hearing examiner will rule on a complaint filed by two Ballard residents who object to the proposed facility, which would give the neighborhood’s many homeless individuals a location to use the bathroom, shower, and do laundry. They say they don’t necessarily object to the facility itself—they just don’t want it in the neighborhood.

Should the examiner rule in favor of the complainants, the Urban Rest Stop’s opening could be stalled for quite some time, leaving the homeless residents of Ballard—neighbors, if you will—in the lurch. Which raises a few questions: What really makes a neighborhood a great place to live? And what really makes a person a good neighbor? Is it a commitment to maintaining the community’s character or a willingness to help out?

The answer seems to depend on whether you can afford a roof.

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