King County has the third-largest homeless population in the country. And despite the concerted efforts of the county and city governments over the last decade, the number of people living outside continues to climb. That means more and more people are dying outside as well. Those who do die while homeless face a kind of anonymity in death that their housed neighbors largely do not. Anitra Freeman and Qween B King Rios are two members of Women in Black, a group of volunteers that aims to recognize those who might be forgotten, standing in silent vigil for every unsheltered person in the region who dies outside or by violence. Both women have experienced homelessness, and each does this as a form of advocacy—a way to say that homeless lives matter and that keeping the issue in the public eye matters, too. Seattleland sits down this week with Anitra and Qween B to hear their stories, their hopes and fears, and what motivates them to do this work.
This week’s cover photo was taken by Sara Bernard and is an image of the leaf made for Anitra’s friend Colette Fleming, located in front of the Seattle Justice Center.