Cleaning up around this building gets all sorts of interesting at times.

Section 8 of the National Housing Law Project is “housing assistance, in the form of direct payments to private landlord, secured from a local housing authority that low-income people can use to rent apartments and homes on the private market.” There are various Section 8 buildings around Seattle, the residents of which form your usual mix of welfare recipients — some who are using welfare as intended, to get back on their feet and get life together, and others who are some of the less reputable members of society. Fairly standard stuff, really.

Dead televisionWell, one of these Section 8 buildings happens to be the Jensonia Hotel, directly next to my building. Part of today’s project was sweeping out our part of the alleyway between the two buildings — while not quite up to the level of Hercules cleaning the Augean stables, it certainly wasn’t a quick and simple task, either. Apparently, some of the tenants next door feel that using garbage cans is more trouble than it’s worth (after all, once they fill up, you do need to take them to a dumpster — what a chore!), and prefer to toss a fair amount of their garbage out the window and into the alleyway. It’s an interesting, if disturbing, mix of garbage, to say the least — everything from smashed TVs to used syringes, all mixed in with a generous helping of broken glass bottles.

More of the detriusOn the bright side, I was able to get our part of it swept up without getting stuck with anything — most of the trash is actually on their side of the divider, so I didn’t have to wade into the real thick of things.

After the sweepI think the most disturbing part of the whole project was just that while I was down there sweeping things out, I’d occasionally hear the soft ‘thud’ of something else landing on the ground. The things that were being tossed were landing on their side of the building, though, which I was fairly happy about. I kinda figured the last thing I needed was some cracked-out junkie deciding to use me as target practice for their bottle, needle, or whatever other implement of destruction they’d just lost any use for. Kinda creepy.

It’s things like this that keep driving me home that no matter how much of a “big city boy” I thought I was after growing up in Anchorage, it’s really a whole different world out here. I’m enjoying it, even with the creepy bits…but the more I live down here, the more I realize just how tiny Anchorage really is!