A tent on a parking strip in Greenwood near Aurora Ave. Photo submitted to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app March 9, 2019.
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A tent on a parking strip in Greenwood near Aurora Ave. Photo submitted to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app March 9, 2019.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Photos of ‘needles’ sent to Seattle’s Find It Fix It app. (Spoiler: many aren't needles)

In the past year, Seattleites have submitted more than 1,000 photos to the city via the Find it, Fix it app under the “needles” category.

About 700 photos are of needles, but the remaining 300 are of homelessness: a man sleeping on a bench, a cluster of tents, a person rummaging through trash.

(Scroll down to see these photos.)

The photos submitted to the Find It Fix It app capture needles and tents, often against the backdrop of Seattle institutions — the Fremont Troll, the Space Needle and houses worth millions.

These photos are a window into Seattle’s homelessness crisis, which has seen an explosion of people living outside and an angry public backlash against what some perceive as the city's permissiveness of illegal, immoral and unsanitary behavior.

By equating visible signs of homelessness with (often invisible) needles, these app users appear to imply that tents on the road represent a lurking, uncontrolled threat.

Many comments explicitly make that link. The notes submitted through the app are often frustrated and biting.

“This is why we're leaving Seattle," one wrote. "Even 'nice' neighborhoods have become junkie-filled shitholes. I hope Seattle is proud.”

Just one or two considered the needs of the people they photographed.

"I believe the gentleman who lives in the tent needs help," a user wrote.

As a matter of protocol, city inspectors are notified when the needles category is used, according to Seattle Public Utilities manager, Idris Beauregard. The inspectors will go to the location and collect the needles.

However, when inspectors discover that people are living where needles are reported, the public utilities department will bring in outreach workers with the city’s Navigation Team before utilities workers can clean up needles or trash.

“We’ll notify the appropriate department and let them know that this is an issue,” Beauregard said.

(The photos that KUOW looked through pre-date a spike of fake Find It, Fix It reports in late July following a poster campaign that encouraged people to submit reports of tents on the street.)

Read here what to do if you find a loose needle

The "needles" category is not intended to report homeless people. It's for actual needles on their own in public areas, such as sidewalks. The city cannot pick up needles on private property, Beauregard said.

“The intention is, they (the public) come across a sharp when they’re walking, in the public right of way, and it can be scary," Beauregard said.

About a third of the time, that's not how the app has been used this year.

The following photos were obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through an public records request. They span January 2019 to mid-May. We selected 15 photos that show the range of images submitted to the app under the category “needles.”

A tent on a parking strip in Greenwood near Aurora Ave. Photo submitted to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app March 9, 2019.
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A tent on a parking strip in Greenwood near Aurora Ave. Photo submitted to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app March 9, 2019.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for photo above:

"Garbage collecting in public area. Feces."

Taken at 6:12 p.m. on Mar 9, 2019 at North 89th Street and Aurora Avenue in Greenwood.

The brown house behind the tent is worth over $1 million, according to the King County Assessor's Office.

A photo of needles and trash in Wallingford uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app, April 19, 2019.
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A photo of needles and trash in Wallingford uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app, April 19, 2019.
Credit: Obtained through a public records request to Seattle Public Utilities

Description provided for photo above:

“Dozens of needles half a block from an elementary school. This is why we're leaving Seattle. Even 'nice' neighborhoods have become junkie-filled shitholes. I hope Seattle is proud.”

Taken at 4:41 p.m. on April 19, 2019, near Northeast 40th Street and 5th Avenue Northeast in Wallingford.

A photo uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app May, 2nd, 2019 under the category "needles."
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A photo uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app May, 2nd, 2019 under the category "needles."
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for photo above:

"Tents completely blocking the public right of way sidewalk."

Taken at 7:06 p.m. on May 2, 2019 at 211 South Washington Street, down the street from the Union Gospel Mission men's shelter in Pioneer Square.

A photo uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app March 17, 2019 under the category "needles."
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A photo uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app March 17, 2019 under the category "needles."
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for photo above:

"Tent encampment with a ton of needles and garbage."

Taken at 4:22 p.m. on March 17, 2019, at 900 North 36th Street in Fremont.

The Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge is a public art installation and tourist attraction. From January to mid-May this year, app users complained 28 times about needles or homelessness in a one block radius of the Troll, using the category "needles."

Needles on the ground in the University District that were reported to Seattle's Find It, Fix it app, March 25, 2019.
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Needles on the ground in the University District that were reported to Seattle's Find It, Fix it app, March 25, 2019.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for photo above:

"Huge pile of needles on the sidewalk, some of which are uncapped. All in an area with graffiti, garbage, chopped up bikes, and illegal camps. There have been similar persistent problems here like this for many months."

Taken at 12:38 p.m. on March 25, 2019, in the University District near Interstate 5.

Photo uploaded under the "needle" category of the Find It, Fix It app because the person making the report said they saw needles around the tent, located by Crown Hill Park.
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Photo uploaded under the "needle" category of the Find It, Fix It app because the person making the report said they saw needles around the tent, located by Crown Hill Park.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"There has been a tent under the overpass stairs for weeks. There are discarded needles all over. This overpass is used by dozens of school children and I'm afraid one of them will puncture their foot on one of those needles. I believe the gentleman who lives in the tent needs help."

Taken at 6:20 p.m. on April 10, 2019, at the overpass by Crown Hill Park over Holman Road Northwest.

Reported under the "needles" category April 22, 2019 in Georgetown.
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Reported under the "needles" category April 22, 2019 in Georgetown.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"We finally got rid of the last set of motor homes and they left a big pile of garbage including injection needles and human feces. This is completely unsanitary and unsafe. Please have this removed immediately."

Taken at 9:41 a.m. on April 22, 2019, at 3rd Avenue South and South Brandon Street in Georgetown.

A photo taken under Interstate 5 in the Chinatown-International District that was uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles" March 15, 2019.
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A photo taken under Interstate 5 in the Chinatown-International District that was uploaded to Seattle's Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles" March 15, 2019.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"Needles and trash smell of feces and urine."

Taken at 5:10 p.m. on March 15, 2019, at 904 S King Street underneath Interstate 5 in the Chinatown-International District.

Uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles" on April 26, 2019 in Northgate.
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Uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles" on April 26, 2019 in Northgate.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for photo above:

"Used needle left on my front porch."

Taken at 6:28 p.m. on April 26, 2019, by Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Northgate.

This photo was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles" on April 6, 2019 at Myrtle Edwards Park.
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This photo was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles" on April 6, 2019 at Myrtle Edwards Park.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for needle above:

"Needles trash."

Taken at 10:46 a.m. on April 6, 2019, 10:46 a.m. at the beach at Myrtle Edwards park, off Elliot Avenue West.

This photo taken in Wallingford April 24, 2019, was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles."
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This photo taken in Wallingford April 24, 2019, was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles."
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"Illegal encampment. Litter. Needles. NEXT TO A PLAYGROUND!"

Taken at 8:10 a.m. on April 24, 2019, near the corner of Wallingford Avenue North and North 43rd Street.

Wallingford Playfield and a playground are to the right, across a chain link fence, bushes, and trees.

The tan house to the left of the tent is worth over $1 million, according to the King County Assessor's office.

This photo taken in Lake City April 21, 2019 was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles."
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This photo taken in Lake City April 21, 2019 was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app under the category "needles."
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"Illegal camping, overnight camping, illegally drinking and smoking in a public park, dumping of garbage and drug use."

Taken at 11:51 a.m. on April 21, 2019, at Northeast 125th Street and 27th Avenue Northeast in Lake City.

This photo was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app in SoDo on May 9, 2019 under the category "needles."
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This photo was uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app in SoDo on May 9, 2019 under the category "needles."
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through an open records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"Vans parked their for over two weeks summoning garage all over."

Taken at 2:28 p.m. on May 9, 2019, at 735 South Holgate Street in Sodo.

This photo was taken in Crown Hill and uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app January 31, 2019. under the category "needles."
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This photo was taken in Crown Hill and uploaded to the Find It, Fix It app January 31, 2019. under the category "needles."
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for the photo above:

"Same drug dealers and users right back at it stealing from area and selling and using right by daycare."

Taken at 5:08 p.m. on January 31, 2019, near the corner of Northwest 85th Street and 14th Avenue Northwest in the Crown Hill neighborhood of northwest Seattle.

The building in the background used to have seven rental apartments and is now slated for demolition to make way for six new townhouses, according to King County property records.

This photo of the Seattle skyline and a homeless encampment was uploaded under the category "needles" to the Find It, Fix It app January 1, 2019.
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This photo of the Seattle skyline and a homeless encampment was uploaded under the category "needles" to the Find It, Fix It app January 1, 2019.
Credit: Obtained from Seattle Public Utilities through a public records request

Description provided for photo above:

"Illegal camping and garbage as well as human feces."

Taken at 11:24 a.m. on January 1, 2019, at 12th Avenue South overlooking Beacon Place Park and Interstate 5.