Development-induced Displacement and Homelessness in Seattle, Washington


  • Veronica Fynn Bruey Seattle University School of Law, USA



Development Induced Displacement, Seattle, Homelessness and Housing, Economic Development


As big technological companies expand across the Seattle Metropolitan area, real estate construction is exploding in downtown Seattle where homelessness due to development-induced displacement is concerning. To this end, the internal displacement of vulnerable populations, including Indigenous peoples, homeless persons, and refugees is mainly due to large scale development of big tech companies. The indifference of using the term ―internal displacement‖ to describe the situation of development-induced displacement makes it difficult to identify, name and raise the agenda of development-induced displaced homeless people in the area. Thus, the goal of this paper is to present a general overview and assessment of the state of development-induced displacement of homeless peoples in Seattle due to big companies‘ expansion, so as to initiate and stimulate critical dialogue on furthering research in the area.


Allain, J. A. (2014). Duwamish history in Duwamish Voices: Weaving our family stories since colonization (PhD Thesis). University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.

Amazon. (2018a). About Amazon [Text and images]. Retrieved May 28, 2018, from

Amazon. (2018b). Explore the Plants [Text and images]. Retrieved from

Anderson, S. (2018). The Amazon grows in Seattle. Urban Journal, 4, 6–11.

Bergheul, S. (2018, May 14). Homelessness: criminalization or social integration? Policy Options, Special Feature. Retrieved from Bishop, T. (2016). Google to move to new 4-building complex in Amazon‘s backyard in Seattle, developed by Paul Allen‘s Vulcan Inc. GeekWire. Retrieved from

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018, May 2). Seattle Area Economic Summary. United States Government. Retrieved from

Cernea, M. (1997). The risks of reconstruction model for resettling displaced populations. World Development, 25(10), 1569–1587.

Chamie, J. (2017, July 13). As cities grow worldwide, so do the numbers of homeless. YaleGlobal Online. Retrieved from https://

City of Seattle Archives. (2018). Brief History of Seattle [Text and images]. Retrieved from

Cohen, R. (2004). The guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: An Innovation in International Standard Setting. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, 10(4), 459–480.

Crane, M., Warnes, A. M., & Coward, S. (2012). Preparing homeless people for independent living and its influence on resettlement outcomes. European Journal of Homelessness, 6(2), 17–45.

Davis, G. S., Klaeysen, C., Richburg, K., Kaz, D., Fynn Bruey, V., Faaren, L., … Nguyen, V. (2017). Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges: Career Pathways to Economic Stability and Quality Jobs for Seattle’s Immigrant and Refugee Workers and Professionals (p. 80). Seattle, WA: City of Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. Retrieved from Day, M., & Beekman, D. (2018, May 2). Amazon issues threat over Seattle head-tax plan, halts tower construction planning. The Seattle Times. Retrieved from 2018/business/ amazon-mayMap/ De Wet, C. J. (Ed.). (2006). Development-induced Displacement: Problems, Policies and People. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.

Deng, F. M. (1998). Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General: Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (Economic and Social Council Report No. E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2) (p. 14). New York, NY: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

DeWolf, Z., Putnam, M., Salcedo, F., Van, T., Winslow, D., Yafali, J.-P., … Valdez, M. (2018). Seattle/King County Point-In-Time Count of Persons Experiencing Homelessness (NGO) (p. 140). Seattle, WA: All Home and Applied Survey Research. Retrieved from

Dunbar-Ortiz, R. (2014). An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Dwivedi, R. (2002). Models and methods in development-induced displacement (Review Article). Development and Change, 33(4), 709–732.

Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County. (2015). King County Economy [Text and images]. Retrieved from

Eicher, T. S. (2010). The Microsoft Economic impact study (Private) (p. 21). Seattle, WA: Department of Economics, University of Washington. Retrieved from Engerman, S. L., & Gallman, R. E. (1996). The Cambridge economic history of the United States. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from Glass, R., & University College, London Centre for Urban Studies. (1964). Aspects of Change. London, UK: MacGibbon and Kee.

Glynn, C., & Allison, M. (2017, August 3). Rising rents mean larger homeless population. Zillow Research. Retrieved from

Glynn, C., & Fox, E. B. (2017). Dynamics of homelessness in urban America. ArXiv:1707.09380 [Stat], 1–54.

González, Á. (2017, January 3). Amazon‘s Spheres: Lush nature paradise to adorn $4 billion urban campus. The Seattle Times. Retrieved from

Google. (2018). Our story: From the garage to the Googleplex [Text and images]. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from https:// about/our-story/ Gouvernement de Québec. (2017, February 22). Integrating homeless people [Government]. Retrieved from en/ conseils-et-prevention/favoriser-l-integration-des-personnes-en-situation-d-itinerance/

Grant, F. J. (1891). History of Seattle, Washington with Illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers. New York, NY: American Publishing and Engraving Co.

Greenstone, S. (2018, January 16). Is Seattle‘s homeless crisis the worst in the country? The Seattle Times. Retrieved from https://

Handel, K. (2014). Case Study: Google, 2014 (Private) (p. 51). Maryville, TN: Maryville College. Retrieved from https:// static/56de2285b6aa609ba7f3d1f1/t/56df62b759827e604389a5fe/1457480375878/Google+Case+Study_Full+Final+Draft.pdf

Henry, M., Watt, R., Rosenthal, L., Shivji, A., & Abt Associates. (2017). The 2017 Annual Homeless assessment report (AHAR) to Congress (p. 100). Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban

Development. Retrieved from resources/ documents/2017-AHAR-Part-1.pdf Hobbes, M. (2018, May 12). How Amazon is holding Seattle hostage. Huffington Post. Retrieved from entry/amazon-holding-seattle-hostage_us_5af5ba76e4b032b10bfa4285

Hsieh, S. (2018, June 12). Amazon wins: Seattle City Council votes to repeal head tax. The Stranger. Retrieved from https://

Hurst, B., & Radke, A. (2015, November 20). How has 30 years Of Microsoft Windows changed The Northwest? Morning Edition. Retrieved from Jackson, J., Lee, J., Lin, M. C. Y., & Ratnatunga, M. (2018). Best-Performing Cities: Where America’s Jobs are created and sustained (p. 57). Washington, DC: Milken Institute. Retrieved from

Jenkins, P. (2003). A History of the United States (2nd ed.). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Kissoon, P. (2015). Intersections of displacement: refugees’ experiences of home and homelessness. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Kuntze, R., & Matulich, E. (2010). Google: Search for value. Journal of Case Research in Business and Economics, 2, 1–10. Levy, N. (2016, December 14). Will Microsoft leave Seattle? How Amazon‘s growth could force the region‘s other tech giant out of the urban core [Text and images]. Retrieved June 9, 2018, from

Levy, N. (2017, June 7). Google exec: New Seattle building ‗is going to be basically Google Cloud.‘ GeekWire. Retrieved from Levy, N. (2018, March 9). Google scoops up more tableau office space, now up to 3K Seattle-area employees. GeekWire. Retrieved from

Lisbin, I. (2018). Gentrification and displacement [Text]. Retrieved June 1, 2018, from

Lone, R. A. (2014). Development induced displacement. Journal of Social Science Research, 3(4), 9. McDowell, C. (Ed.). (1996). Understanding Impoverishment: the consequences of development-induced displacement. Providence, RI: Berghahn Books.

McGee, Jr., W. H. (2007). Gentrification, Integration or Displacement?: The Seattle Story. Retrieved May 18, 2018, from http:// McNaughton Nicholls, C., & Atherton, I. (2011). Housing first: Considering components for successful resettlement of homeless people with multiple needs. Housing Studies, 26(5), 767–777.

Mickelson, R. A. (Ed.). (2000). Children on the Streets of the Americas: Homelessness, Education, and Globalization in the United States, Brazil, and Cuba. London, UK: Routledge.

Microsoft Corporation. (2017). Microsoft Redmond Campus fact sheet. Microsoft Corporation. Retrieved from uploads/2017/11/Microsoft-Redmond-Campus-Fact-Sheet.docx

Microsoft Corporation. (2018). Facts about Microsoft [Text and images]. Retrieved June 9, 2018, from

Morrison, C. S., & Belt, T. L. (2014). Social integration and political ideologies of the homeless. Journal of Social Research and Policy, 5(1), 5–24.

Murray, K. (2017). Gentrification: issue. SAGE Business Researcher. Retrieved from National Law Income Housing Coalition. (2017). Out of reach 2017: The High Cost of Housing (NGO) (p. 282). Washington, DC: National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Retrieved from sites/ default/files/oor/OOR_2017.pdf

National Low-Income Housing Coalition. (2017). How much do you need to earn to afford a modest apartment in your state? [Text and images]. Retrieved May 30, 2018, from

Nickelsburg, M. (2018, April 21). Washington state‘s economy ranked highest in the nation despite relatively low investment per capita. GeekWire. Retrieved from https:// 2018/ washington-states-economy-ranked-highest-nation-despite-relatively-low-investment-per-capita/

O‘Brien, M., & Harris-Talley, K. (2017). Employees hours tax (―Head Tax‖) Homes Proposal. City of Seattle. Retrieved from Office of Economic Development. (2018). Jobs: employment estimates [Text and images]. Retrieved May 25, 2018, from http://

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. (2012). ‗Doctrine of Discovery‘, Used for centuries to justify seizure of indigenous land, subjugate peoples, must be repudiated by United Nations, Permanent Forum Told. In United Nations Economic and Social Council Eleventh Session, 3rd and 4th Meetings. New York, NY: Economic and Social Council. Retrieved from

Quilgars, D., & Pleace, N. (2016). Housing first and social integration: A realistic aim? Social Inclusion, 4(4), 5. 10.17645/ si.v4i4.672

Robinson, W. C. (2003). Risks and rights: the causes, consequences, and challenges of development-induced displacement (p. 102). Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, SAIS Project on Internal Displacement. Retrieved from viewdoc/ download? doi= Satiroglu, I. (2015). Development-induced displacement and resettlement: New perspectives on persisting problems. London, UK: Routledge.

Scruggs, G. (2018, May 15). Seattle passes scaled-back tax on Amazon, big companies. Reuters. Retrieved from article/us-seattle-tax/seattle-city-council-backs-new-tax-on-largest-companies-including-amazon-idUSKCN1IG002

Seattle City Council. (2018, May 14). Seattle Council passes tax on business to help address homelessness [Text and images]. Retrieved from

Sharma, R. (2016). Development Induced Displacement: A Study of population affected by Jaipur metro project (PhD Thesis). The ISS University, Jaipur, India. Retrieved from handle/10603/106025

Staff Reporter. (2018, June 2). Native organizations say new homeless American Indian and Alaska Natives not accurate in Seattle. Native News Online. Retrieved from https:// currents/native-organizations-say-new-homeless-american-indian-alaska-natives-not-accurate-in-seattle/

Stanley, J. (2011, August 11). Development-induced displacement and resettlement. Forced Migration Online. Retrieved from http:// development-induced-displacement-and-resettlement

Stiles, M., & Stewart, A. (2016, May 24). Google moving from Fremont to huge new South Lake Union space [Text and Images]. Retrieved June 15, 2018, from seattle/ blog/ techflash/2016/03/google-moving-from-fremont-to-huge-new-south-lake.html

Terminski, B. (2013). Development-Induced displacement and resettlement: theoretical frameworks and current challenges. Geneva, Switzerland: University of Geneva. Retrieved from dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/8833/Bogumil%20Terminski,%20development-Induced%20Displacement%20and%20Resettlement.%20 Theoretical %20frameworks%20and%20current%20challenges.pdf

The Innovation and Good Practice Team. (2013). Effective action to end homelessness: resettlement from homelessness services (NGO Report) (p. 27). London, UK: Homeless Link. Retrieved from https:// Resettlement %20guidance.pdf

Thrush, C.-P. (2017). Native Seattle: histories from the crossing-over place (2nd ed.). Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. Retrieved from login.aspx? direct=true&scope =site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=1490845

Tran, S. K. (2017). GOOGLE: A reflection of culture, leader, and management. International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility, 2(1), 1–14.

Tsai, J., Mares, A. S., & Rosenheck, R. A. (2012). Does housing chronically homeless adults lead to social integration? Psychiatric Services, 63(5), 427–434.

Tucker, G. (1857). The history of the united states: from their colonization to the end of the twenty-sixth Congress, in 1841 (Vol. 1). Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott.

UN Habitat. (2016). Urbanization and development: emerging futures - key findings and messages (UN Document) (p. 49). Nairobi, Kenya: United Nations Settlement Programme. Retrieved from

United States Census Bureau. (2018). QuickFacts: Seattle city, Washington [Text and images]. Retrieved May 22, 2018, from https://,US/PST045216 United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Exchange. (2018). Housing First in permanent supportive housing. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved from

US Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis. (2017, September 20). Gross domestic product (GDP) by metropolitan area (millions of current dollars) [Text and images]. Retrieved from =naics &7005=-1&7006=42660&7036=-1&7001 =2200& 7002=2& 7090= 70&7007=2016&7093=levels

Wamsley, L. (2017, May 10). New Amazon building in Seattle will include a homeless shelter. National Public Radio. Retrieved from https://

Wood, G. S. (2009). Empire of liberty: a history of the early republic, 1789-1815. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Zuk, M., Bierbaum, A. H., Chapple, K., Gorska, K., Loukaitou-Sideris, A., Ong, P., & Thomas, T. (2015). Gentrification, displacement and the role of public investment: A literature review (p. 76). Berkeley, CA: University of California Berkeley and University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved from uploads/ Displacement _Lit_Review_Final.pdf