SEATTLE, WA â€” A world champion cyclist and Olympic silver medalist is sharing her story of homelessness with the Seattle Times to push back on stereotypes about people living unsheltered.
Rebecca Twigg, 56, competed in the Olympics and set world records for cycling. But after leaving the sport, Twigg struggled find her footing in the non-cycling world, she told the Times. The Seattle native worked in IT jobs, but at age 50, found herself unemployed. She lost her housing, lived in her car, and spent time living on Seattle's streets.
Twigg's story comes a few weeks after a controversial KOMO News special, "Seattle Is Dying," dramatized people living in crisis outdoors in Seattle. The reporter who produced the special, Eric Johnson, said it was about the drug crisis, but a lot of the focus was on Seattle's highly-visible homeless encampments, feeding stereotypes about why people end up homeless.
King County's 2018 Count Us In census counted 12,112 people living homeless in the county. In that report, about 44 percent reported some kind of economic reason for becoming homeless â€” a job loss, rent increase, or foreclosure, for example. About 21 percent reported that they were homeless due to alcohol or drug addiction.
Twigg "agreed to share her story to convince the public that not all homeless people are addicted to drugs or alcohol; that there are many like her, who have struggled with employment and are 'confused,' as she said she is, about what to do next with their lives. She did not want to discuss mental health but feels it should be treated more seriously in Washington," the Times reported.
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