Jonathan Choe

Journalist and Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty

Jonathan Choe is a journalist and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute's Center on Wealth and Poverty, covering homelessness issues for its Fix Homelessness initiative. Prior to joining Discovery, Choe spent several years as one of the lead reporters at KOMO-TV, consistently the top rated television station in Seattle. His in depth stories on crime and deep dive investigations into the homeless crisis led to measurable results in the community, including changes in public policy.

Choe has more than two decades of experience in tv news behind the scenes and in front of the camera for ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and Tribune. He has also been been nominated and honored with multiple industry awards including an Emmy. Choe spent several years teaching classes on emerging media and entreprenuership to under privileged youth in inner city Chicago.

Choe is a New England native and Boston University journalism school graduate.

Archives

Blasting Music All Night Long at Encampment

For the past few days, homeless campers living near Stone Avenue North and 128th Street in north Seattle say some really loud music started blaring from a cluster of speakers mounted on the Comcast service building.

Seattle Faith-Based Groups Help the Homeless on Thanksgiving

Year-Round Calling Many Americans enjoyed Thanksgiving with friends and family. But on Thursday, I followed multiple FAITH based groups and volunteers for one of their busiest days of the year in #Seattle, trying to help homeless by offering more than a meal. All In a Day Yes, I shot in less than two hours on Thanksgiving day. These encampments are nearby in SODO and Pioneer Sq, including problematic spot near #Seattle City Hall. @MayorofSeattle has done at least 10 sweeps here this year. Many are “trap tents” used for drugs. Happening Now Monday morning “blues” in downtown #Seattle as people smoke fentanyl. @MayorofSeattle w/probably dozen sweeps this year on 3rd Ave near City Hall. Many here say they are not Read More ›

Seeking Warmth, Squatters Ignite House Fire Near Ship Canal Bridge

Squatter City #Seattle‘s Wallingford neighborhood has 5 houses on same street w/homeless people staying w/out permission. Many are breaking in from @WSDOT‘s Ship Canal Encampment. Once again @weheartseattle is back trying to help. Dropping FULL STORY this week. Following Up @KC_RHA says outreach workers are checking in on campers at @WSDOT‘s Ship Canal encampment. But right now, even the house squatters say @weheartseattle volunteers are only ones trying to help them find other options. Update Saturday morning, neighbors in Wallingford say SQUATTERS from @WSDOT‘s Ship Canal Bridge encampment started a fire inside a house on 5th Ave NE. Today, the squatters came back. But neighbors MOBILIZED and had a message for them. Now the house is boarded up. Saturday’s Fire Read More ›

RVs Removed in Ballard Have Returned

Ballard Problems RV’s removed months ago on NW Leary near @JackBox are back. Encampment next to @albertlee1939 on 8th Ave NW is blamed for fires as homeless try to stay warm. And multiple tents popping up elsewhere. Gonna be LONG WINTER. Blocks and Planters Making a Difference I understand this is a CONTROVERSIAL method to keep RV’s away. But streets near Fremont Brewing are now pretty clear. And look at those new metal planter boxes going in near Camco Electric.

Homeless Encampment Fire Breaks Out at Jackson Park

Exclusive Look at this inferno at homeless encampment Friday on Jackson Park Perimeter Trail. This is right next to Greentree Village Condos in #Seattle. Listen to neighbor’s frustration on 911 call. @SeattleFire once again saves day. On Going Problems Last summer, my series HIDDEN CRISIS IN THE WOODS showed numerous homeless encampments along Jackson Park Trail. But neighbors say city continues to ignore them.

A Heart for Squatters at the Ship Canal Bridge

Squatters from Nearby Problematic WSDOT Homeless Encampment Breaking into Abandoned Seattle Homes
Despite multiple shootings and fires in the past few weeks, dozens of tents remain under the Ship Canal Bridge.  Washington Governor Jay Inslee says they’re making progress elsewhere:  “In the last several months we’ve seen quite a number of these encampment’s removed.”   But the Washington State Department of Transportation remains paralyzed when it comes to this property.  And there’s no timeline on when this problematic encampment will be cleared.  This weekend, neighbors called homeless outreach group We Heart Seattle to do something about it.  Andrea Suarez, We Heart Seattle’s founder and executive director, describes the area as, “just a bunch of tents in an open-air drug

A Heart for Squatters at the Ship Canal Bridge

Squatters from Nearby Problematic WSDOT Homeless Encampment Breaking into Abandoned Seattle Homes
There's no timeline on when this problematic encampment will be cleared. This weekend, neighbors called homeless outreach group We Heart Seattle to do something about it. 

Everett Mayor Writes Off WSDOT’s Letter Denying Claims

Everett Mayor Blasts WSDOT for Allegedly Moving Homeless Into Her City Without Consulting
The letter in question is the one she sent to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) last week, in which she alleges that agency, in conjunction with a local nonprofit service provider, is moving "a large number" of the unsheltered population from outside Everett into her city's motels.

Everett Mayor Writes Off WSDOT’s Letter Denying Claims

Everett Mayor Blasts WSDOT for Allegedly Moving Homeless Into Her City Without Consulting
In an exclusive interview, I asked Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, “Do you still stand by that letter?” Her response was unequivocal: “I absolutely do.” The letter in question is the one she sent to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) last week, in which she alleges that agency, in conjunction with a local nonprofit service provider, is moving “a large number” of the unsheltered population from outside Everett into her city’s motels. https://twitter.com/choeshow/status/1589723203685220352?s=20&t=RrNdZRqeeQmeVqBYaJD9Rw Calling it “an unacceptable burden for our city to bear,” Franklin says the agency never consulted with her. In response, WSDOT, along with the Washington State Department of Commerce and the

Homeless Crisis Exploding in Woods of Kitsap County

What Are You Voting For? I bet HOMELESS CRISIS+PUBLIC SAFETY are top issues, especially in #Seattle. But did you know, Kitsap County(Port Orchard, Bremerton)+unincorporated parts like Silverdale are struggling w/same issues? Here’s a preview. Environmental Disaster in the Making Important salmon species SPAWN in Clear Creek. Yet Silverdale residents concerned pollution and runoff from homeless encampments will wreck this place. This is a HIDDEN CRISIS in the woods. Waiting for officials to respond. Disturbing Find I’m working on in depth story about homeless crisis exploding in Kitsap County region. Neighbors say Level 3 sex offender is living in woods not that far from a middle school. But when we went to back to site, he was gone. @KitsapCoSheriff has been Read More ›

Governor Inslee’s Latest Update on WSDOT Homeless Encampments

Everett Mayor Blasting Inslee @MayorCassie writing a scathing letter directed @wsdot and @GovInslee, saying she was never consulted about HOMELESS HOTELS being set up in her city. Calling it “unacceptable burden.” Why does this playbook sound so familiar? Everett Mayor Disagrees Earlier this week, @GovInslee touted his Rights of Way Initiative saying there is “solid progress on this effort,” crediting @wsdot. But it’s becoming more apparent, cities like #Everett and @MayorCassie are not being consulted about HOMELESS HOTELS. Is This Really Progress? Since @GovInslee’s “Rights of Way Initiative” started earlier this year, @WAStateCommerce site appears to show less than a dozen removals so far. The most recent @WSDOT sweep in Northgate last week has not been added. Fuzzy Math @GovInslee Read More ›

Licton Spring’s ‘Clement Place’ Shows Seattle is Falling Behind on Homeless Crisis

Complaints Stacking Up Homeowners near @DESCSeattle‘s Clement Place (“HOUSING FIRST” model) have documented numerous problems caused by SOME residents including fella in this video. Fights, drugs, attempted burglary. Neighbors claim DESC building managers ignoring them. Imagine Living Next to This Homeowners say NOT everyone living at @DESCSeattle Clement Place is a MENACE to neighborhood. But there are some well known characters like this woman who goes on shouting sprees at all hours. I have reached out to DESC but still no response. Rough Year for Neighbors This past summer, I also reported extensively on MASSIVE homeless encampment out of control in front of @DESCSeattle Clement Place. At the time, neighbors weren’t sure if the homeless or DESC residents were causing Read More ›

Homelessness Crisis in Nation’s Capital

In no other place in America are the heights of power and depths of severe poverty separated by only a few city blocks.  This sprawling encampment is expanding in Washington D.C.’s historic McPherson Square. Sharon Brown lives here in a tent, just five minutes from the White House.   When I ask her why folks are living here, she’s understandably frustrated. “We’re homeless people. Where do you want us to go?” Daniel Kingery also lives in the encampment.  He says hunger is not the problem, since multiple non-profits drop off food almost daily.  But he asks a good question: “Wouldn’t it be great if one of these homeless organizations actually got a homeless guy not only a job, but a residence?” Vincent Perrone is a

Problematic RV’s “Gaming” the System in Seattle

How would you feel if you worked at a problem for 53 years and it just got worse and worse? In August, Franciscan monk Kevin Crowley, 87, retired from heading the Capuchin Day Centre in Dublin that he opened in 1969, just down the street from the Jameson Distillery. Before going to visit him in 2018, I read some recent articles in the Irish press. In 2013, Crowley said “it’s very sad to see young children having to come to a place like this”— an old building where homeless men and women, many suffering from alcoholism and addiction, crowd in for hot meals: “No questions are asked and nothing is expected in return. In 2014 Crowley spoke of the soaring demand for the Centre’s services since it started serving soup and sandwiches to about 50 people in the city each day

Regret and Apologies

Last week, hundreds of senior citizens from the Chinatown-International District (C-ID) marched into SODO.  Protesting Dow Constantine’s homeless megaplex, they’re worried about the public safety impact on the C-ID, which is just a block away.   During the rally, a homeless couple stopped to give the marchers a piece of their mind. “Go back to your country,” they yelled, leaving the elders stunned by the racist remarks.   “Well, they can go back to their country too,” said community advocate Matt Chan, who didn’t appreciate the verbal attack.  Andrea Suarez with the homeless outreach group We Heart Seattle recognized the couple in the video.  “I was like, no! I’ve known them for over a year. We provided outreach

Chinatown International District Giving Back

Seattle’s Chinatown-International District Continues to Serve the Homeless During Megaplex Fight
Take a stroll through Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (C-ID) and count the number of homeless people and drug addicts occupying alleyways and the vestibules of apartment buildings.  With all the accompanying litter, “This place is becoming like the City of Seattle’s dump,” says neighbor George Wood.  Tents and cardboard boxes are laid out against exercise equipment in Hing Hay Park.  The city cleared an encampment under the I-5 overpass on King Street multiple times this year, but it’s back.  And the tent city set up against adjacent to Vuu’s Beauty School is a full-blown drug den, attracting dealers and all sorts of crime.  Kim Nguyen owns this business and says she’s been broken into numerous times this year. And because

Chinatown Mobilizes Against Homeless Megaplex

Seattle's Chinatown International District and Seniors Mobilize Again To Block Homeless Megaplex
For the second time this month, hundreds of people gathered at Hing Hay Park — this time with fresh new signs and messages targeting multiple elected officials.  Chinatown-International District (C-ID) residents are angry and feel disrespected.  Especially the seniors. Instead of enjoying retirement, these grizzled veterans are challenging King County Executive Dow Constantine’s plan to ram through a homeless megaplex with close to 500 beds in nearby SODO.  They’re worried about all the problems this kind of shelter campsite can bring with it – like crime spilling into the surrounding neighborhoods.  Seattle Police Officers Guild president Mike Solan, who came out in support of the community, says he expects their fears to be confirmed: “Can you

Hope Camping Out in Spokane

Surrounded by vast farmland and enjoying majestic sunsets, Spokane is the largest city in Eastern Washington. It’s home to Gonzaga University, an abundance of outdoor activities, and the population is booming — including at a place called, “Camp Hope.” 

Seattle’s Unending Drug Crisis

In this great American city, blessed with enormous wealth and natural beauty, a drug crisis is exploding on its streets. Along 3rd Avenue, against the backdrop of Pike Place Market in Seattle’s downtown core, the addicts smoke and inject all kinds of substances in plain sight.

Seattle’s Unending Drug Crisis

In this great American city, blessed with enormous wealth and natural beauty, a drug crisis is exploding on its streets.  Along 3rd Avenue, against the backdrop of Pike Place Market in Seattle’s downtown core, the addicts smoke and inject all kinds of substances in plain sight.  The current drug of choice is fentanyl, often sold as “blues” pills. Aaron Smith shows me how he inhales with a hollowed-out pen. Today it’s three for ten dollars; tomorrow it could be even cheaper. The drug dealers prey on these lost souls.   Smith says, the drug “relaxes your body; it relaxes your mind…. It makes you feel comfortable; it helps you be comfortable in all these tough conditions.”    Fentanyl overdose deaths are surging this year in