Homeless in Seattle, and Marrying Under the Overpass

On the wedding day of Michelle Vestal and Bob J Kitcheon, Ms. Vestal had been clean from crack cocaine for 84 days. “I would never have done it if it wasn’t for him,” she said.

Comments: 99

  1. Thank you for writing this profile that shows that weddings are about love and commitment and sharing the day with friends instead of about fancy dresses and extravagant honeymoons. Congratulations to the couple and I wish them happiness and health in their lives together.

  2. This is heartbreaking and heartwarming -- perhaps more the former than the latter. I wish them strength, support, and much better days to come, and truly hope they make it.

  3. My husband and I started out in similar circumstances some 42 years ago. We are now thriving with everything we need...a home, land, more than adequate income. That's what happens when you have a reason to build: A truly caring partner.

  4. I assume you were not addicted to crack cocaine for the past 30 years and gave up all of your children to social services/foster system.

  5. "There, but for the grace of God,...."

  6. Cute story but I fail to see the point in their decision, front and center, for I would assume any homeless person, would be a job and to get their footing back. There's little time for nuptials and niceties when you're living under a bridge, but I suppose we all have our separate priorities, all the luck in the world to them....

  7. I can see how love and companionship, which are free, could be the highest priority of someone living on the street.

  8. From the article: "Mr. Kitcheon has a construction job, working eight hours a day."

  9. the wedding wasn't held at the Waldorf Astoria...it was make-shift under a bridge....what will satisfy you????

  10. A humble reminder in these days of weddings going for $700.00 a person.

  11. Best of luck to the happy couple!

  12. NYT. I usually love the wedding section and like that the paper is diversifying the featured profiles. However, as a Seattle resident actively working to help the homeless situation the quote of the groom saying "I''m not really homeless. I could leave anytime. I just don't worry about anything." - is infuriating (after you read all of the freebies he is getting from the city.) People choosing to be homeless here and causing problems in our city - is a huge problem. Upsetting. This is almost an advertisement about being homeless in Seattle!

  13. I think of "the homeless" as people who don't have a home. Not people who own a 5-bedroom home in another state and a have a full-time job. This is difficult for me to understand. The superfluity of children (18!) is also hard for me to understand.

  14. And note that he also says he owns a five bedroom home in Phoenix where his five daughters live??? Why are we feeding this man???

  15. I’ve reread this a couple of times. I don’t see where Mr. Kitchen is receiving benefits from the city. He connects with volunteers from a shelter, but it doesn’t say where their money comes from or how much he is using. He seems to be a man who is finding his own way; a way that is strange to me but he brings such a warm relaxed attitude to life. God bless him and his lovely bride.

  16. Touching, well narrated, beautifully.. Congrats to newly wed couples..

  17. This story is incredibly beautiful. It is the most heart warming story I have read in a while

  18. Ever life is shaped by one thing-the other people in it. The most successful of people are blessed with not only mentors in their youth but also those people who come along and give them their big opportunity without exploitation , people who believe in them and further their careers, through advice or direct advancement. You will find no successful person who cannot point to that one person who boosted their career in some fashion. Life is a series of academy award acceptance speeches, the more people you have to thank the more successful you are. In this way life is divided into three groups, The ones whose academy award acceptance speech goes on for long that the John Willaims orchestra has to play them off, the 2nd group which has to struggle to figure out who they would thank if called upon to do so, and the last group which rather than having people to thank can run off a list of people who have hurt them, stolen from them and left them stranded on the side of life's road. Having people in your life that not only believe in you but care about you and support you is the difference between living in a mansion In Hollywood or under an overpass in Seattle. Because we have so many people who go through their existence destroying so many lives in so many ways, the ones who initiate others into drugs, the ones who break hearts beyond mending, the ones who cheat and rob you of all your hard work, we will always need societal safety nets

  19. We all need social safety net at some point or other in our lives.... I suspect the folks who believe they'll never need it will find themselves unable to cope if they lost their jobs (the suicide rate in the US is rising among individuals who lost high paying jobs after the 2008 Great Recession. People in their fifties have not been rehired..... The social safety net is an insurance system. When we humans lived in tiny communities everyone would help each other in time of need. Now that we live in huge communities we do the same thing with a safety net that can encompass millions.

  20. Five previous marriages, and eight children brought in to the world by a drug addicted mother who gave them to others to take care of. She steals from people to maintain her habit. Less than three months off drugs. One of the people she stole from takes a chance on love and marries her. I wish them well and hope a miracle takes place and the whole family is healed. But I can't help but think that people's reactions to this would be far different if a lonely woman married a man, perhaps a convict, who had stolen from her and was clean for less than three months. It's interesting, isn't it?

  21. Just let them have their happiness. It doesn’t cost you a dime.

  22. congratulations . True love and tender care conquers all circumstances.

  23. True Love.

  24. Homeless drug addicts get married and this is news??? Seems like something that nobody should do, better they help each other to get and stay clean, get a job, and then think about marriage.

  25. It sounds like you are criticizing the couple for not having jobs. However, the article said that Bob works 8 hours a day in construction and that Michelle makes jewelry for $14/hour. In high rent areas, lower income workers can't easily afford an apartment. "One bedroom apartments in Seattle rent for $1970 a month on average."

  26. They have jobs. That is made clear in the article. Also, I'm guessing that Seattle rents are super high and even with decent jobs, many can't afford to rent.

  27. Well, you could be right. Or wrong. When I tire of the typical daunting news I often turn to the weddings section. It’s so easy to read about the weddings and engagements and shake my head at the coverage, especially the featured weddings. They make be wonder about the self-absorption and astounding amounts of money people can spend on a one-day (usually) glitzy show. I wonder about need for quotes from friends about the couples’ journey towards marriage, often highlighting the ups and downs along the way. And the information about the designer clothing the couple wear. And then I take a look st the cookie utter engagement stories. There seem to be rules about the couples shown: great teeth, long hair for the women, schooling at prestigious places, along with any honors earned, how they met, and information about the parents of the couple. I do enjoy reading what I see as drivel. It’s any easy way to feel superior!!! :/)

  28. I'm always judge-y as all get out over the privileged people usually featured in this feature. But not this time. I wish the best for the couple.

  29. Perhaps the very worst aspect of American life as it has devolved to it's current state is the total lack of concern or support for the most vulnerable among us. Even in more progressive parts of the country, little is being done to not only provide shelter and health care for those in need, but to get them truly back on their feet so that they might take their places as active members of society who can support themselves and live in dignity. The problems we all face in order to keep our jobs, health insurance, educate our children and put food on the table and a roof over our heads are truly daunting and not everyone is able to cope, so falling on hard times can happen much easier than we like to admit. Our social safety net is weak and once one finds themselves living on the street, I can only imagine how tremendously hard it must be to get back on one's feet and find a job leading to having a home to live in, health insurance to protect them and so on. I wish the couple in this story good luck and happiness and I'm sure they don't need reminding of the daunting challenges that await them. Hopefully they will strengthen each other and achieve the type of life that every human being has a right to expect.

  30. This "progressive part of the country" has extremely regressive taxation. Too many people in Seattle think "progressive" means eating kale and bringing your dog to work. There is no income tax, and property taxes are levied on ridiculously inflated house prices, driving middle-income homeowners out of the city. Until we have an equitable system of taxation, Seattle's "progressiveness" is just window dressing.

  31. I wish them well, and hope their love will give them the strength to get them off the streets and into a more stable environment, but based on this article, they have people who love and care for them, others who are also on the street, homeless, others who work with the homeless, so they have a safety net. Most of us have no idea what it is to be homeless or jobless. We are writing commentary for the NYTimes, but I have been through the jobless and homeless aspect of life, not once but twice. When I was a child, my father lost his job, and we lost our home, and thank goodness within a few days, due to the safety net of my grandparents, my parents were able to move into an apartment, my father found work over 200 miles away and my mother, eventually, went back to work herself and the family recovered but it took years. Two years ago, my husband lost his job due to the company closing and hasn't found work yet, though he has a degree and would love to a job, but he is pushing 50 in an area that has few jobs of his type (a mechanical engineer). I have my job, a professor, so we are okay but I will tell you all right now that I worried constantly for over a year if I could keep up with the bills, could we keep our house, what if one of us got really sick? Life can change dramatically, but people who care can make the changes bearable. So, I wish this couple all the best wishes I can think of.

  32. Mallory! Tell your husband to hang in there.....don't get discourage. I was caught smack dab in the middle of the downsizing, out sizing and chronic unemployment during the last economic downturn! I had the luck of the 3 discriminating factors: age/race/gender! It wasn't easy but somehow I survived. What I realized was I had to be flexible and creative. I had to let go of expecting to get back in "my field," and just get a job! With his experience as an engineer. there is a lot of things that he can do.....reinvent himself, create his own job, work as a consultant, take his skills and reapply them to another industry or environment! Write, blog, teach at a community college! Keep a positive attitude and don't give up!

  33. JanuaryBabe, that is very sweet, and I will show him this:-)))

  34. What a beautiful story and beautiful souls. I wish them all the happiness and love in the world.

  35. Lovely story about what appears to be a non-judgmental community of neighbors which simply focuses on feeding people's physical and emotional hungers through pot luck dinners and meeting specific needs (fire extinguishers to wedding cakes). Accepting people as they are and treating them with respect is not easy. Nearly all people want to be able as an adult to make choices but very few of us have the maturity to allow other adults to make choices and live with the consequences of those choices. We are a society of "fixers" and "Do as I say, not as I do" moralists all too often when it comes to people who are "economically challenged" (poor): We design programs for sick people or the infirm elderly or children that require them to work to be eligible. I admire those who brought the covered dishes to share, baked the wedding cake, decorated the background, provided the music and celebrated the milestone achieved by the bride of what many who commented wrote of as "only 3 months clean" of what we know will be a life-long addiction to a life-destroying drug. Most of us live near a place which struggles with chronic homelessness. The first step in creating programs which work for those who can be helped to find a home is to stop judging and start meeting the needs which can be met whether those needs are fire extinguishers, tents or covered dishes to share. See each homeless person as an individual. Support their goals to be married, to stop using drugs, to be loved.

  36. I am fearful for Ms. Vestal's ability to stay clean given the 8 hours each day her husband will be at work. I hope these hours and indeed every hour of each day can be supported as she tries to move to a totally drug free life style, which apparently she has not done before. Perhaps this couple who appear to genuinely love eachother will find that support after people reading this article. Addiction is a terrible problem (see epidemic) and as one commenter said there appears no governmental stomach (despite Trump's empty promises) to provide detox programs and long term support. Some will say it is not the tax payer's problem, but as Obama used to say, what happens on the other side of town affects us all.

  37. She is working too. It might be a part time job and his job might be temporary as so many jobs are these days. I do /hope Ms Vestal will remain clean. Being clean for 3 months is already an amazing achievement.

  38. My hope is that Native Works will keep her busy and continue to encourage her drug and alcohol free lifestyle. Native Americans and Alaska Natives know the problems their families and tribal members have with substance abuse and work hard to help those who are suffering.

  39. Thank you for the reminder that things are what you make of them, and that risk is part of every life decision, but that doesn't mean that hope can't still push us forward, in spite of our own personal weaknesses, the harm done to us by others, and a comment section of judgmental NYTimes readers ready to throw the first stone. This was a truly empathetic piece. I'm worried for them, but hopeful at the same time.

  40. This is one of the great stories of the day. It’s too bad it fell off the main page. It is a disarming testament to the power true love has to cross societal boundaries, to reveal their irrationality, and to heal. Irrespective of this couple’s economic station or past challenges they fully deserve this national coverage. The Times is to be commended for finding this story and treating it with such professionalism. All concerned have made the world a better place.

  41. In the midst of all the horribleness in our country, the anger, the papering over social ills with do-gooderism, this story rings true. The couple are turning to the most hopeful act you can perform in the midst of their trauma and hardship. The volunteers are committed and consistent and aware that the dignity they helped foster today doesn’t substitute for public policy. People I know in Latin America who stood up to death squads (and watched their children murdered by same) taught me that you don’t stop celebrating in the face of horror. Love and light to all involved!

  42. Is it not a little weird that we are celebrating a couple who chooses to be homeless and receive all this charity when there are others who likely don‘t have that choice, a hindered by drug addiction, mental issues and have really nowhere to turn, no support, but have to compete for limited resources with people who own homes? And no, I‘m not some help yourself republican but I find it a bit odd, is all.

  43. This made me cry - what a beautiful man! A caring moment in time, no matter what happens after.

  44. How much fact checking was there for this story? It doesn't sound plausible. They both have these large families and no one in either of their families wanted to attend the wedding or be interviewed for this story. Ms. Vestal's story in particular doesn't make much sense. She's been living on the streets since 1985, but has also been married 5 times. I believe a drug addict could have 8 children she wasn't able to take care of, but it seems hard to believe that she was married to all of the fathers.

  45. This article managed to be both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. Well done, NYT.

  46. It's a nice story and as humans I wish them the best, but the comments from people who actually live in Seattle are telling. We have a huge, continually growing homelessness crisis here, and we are spending millions of dollars on various failed initiatives and interventions, and are taxing our residents more and more to pay for it all. And then we see stories like this that expose the fact that both these people... have homes. In other states. That they could be living in, but they're not. They're choosing to live on our streets and use our resources, and we're all left paying for their lifestyle and stepping around the piles of trash they leave behind. It's maddening. I'd also suggest it's worth reading this take on the group that threw the wedding. https://crosscut.com/2017/08/homeless-feast-south-seattle-neighbors-angr...

  47. I understand your point, but the bride in this particular scenario has struggled with a serious drug addiction for the better part of 30 years, and that is not something that most families are equipped to adequately and safely deal with. Do you suggest she live with her elderly mother, who resides in rural Alaska and cannot travel? Or with her kids, who may not be able to handle something of that magnitude either? As for the groom, it appears he is simply choosing not to live in his own home; perhaps he was so traumatized by the death of his first wife that he feels he can’t have a “home” again. Who knows, but in any case there’s only so much his adult children can do about that. They could invite him to live with them or encourage him to get his own place but at the end of the day if he insists on living on the street I don’t think there is much they can do to legally stop him. The article didn’t really go into this couple’s relationships with their respective children but none of them, not even the one who lives in Seattle, appears to have attended the wedding. Perhaps they simply couldn’t come or perhaps there’s more going on than this article covers. Regardless of whatever’s happenig, I wish this homeless couple happiness, peace, and safety, the former two being things they don’t seem to have had a lot of in life.

  48. You both make good points. We don’t know the full story here. But I think when you live in Seattle and see the extraordinary homeless problem first hand, it is hard to feel good about this story. The need here has become so overwhelming. It makes it tough to celebrate resources going to a wedding for people who have financially secure immediate family in other states. We have a true homeless crisis in this city and if we don’t figure out a way to solve it fast, people are going to continue to die on the streets while the wealthy build their enclaves.

  49. What a great story to share in the Weddings section! Mazel tov to the couple, and thank you, NY Times!

  50. Are the histories of couples featured in Vows fact-checked by the New York Times? Is it not rather improbable to have, in 10 children, 6 daughters who are nurses and 4 sons who are all servicemen? Her family's estate includes helicopter pads (makes sense in a land with no roads I guess) and his currently houses his nurse daughters? The story of this charming if tragic couple is absolutely remarkable.

  51. So because you find it improbable, the article must be untrue or suffering from poor fact-checking? If this couple had been a typical Vows couple with the same type family members, would you assume the article was improperly fact-checked? People can have all sorts of families doing all sorts of things, including the homeless.

  52. Thank you for not writing about rich people this time, NYTimes. Class diversity is often sorely lacking in this and other sections.

  53. Amen !

  54. What a great story about love and community and hope. All you judgy mcjudgersons, go troll somewhere else and don’t rain on this wedding day.

  55. Best wishes to the newlyweds. Thanks to all the volunteers and others in the community.

  56. Recipe for a healthy relationship Redemption Healing Faith in each other Support of dear ones nearby Resilience in the face of difficult odds Open acknowledgement of problems Each day a new opportunity for enlightenment We all know of other narratives, but this one starts under a tent, under a bridge. With a kiss for luck they're on their way. We wish them all the best.

  57. I love this story. At first I felt sorry for this homeless couple. But then I realized that had something that most people never find - a true home in the love they have for each other.

  58. An incredible story. I agree it is both heart-warming and heart-breaking. I find some of the comments fascinating. I realize that aspects of their story seem improbable but “fact-checking”? Really. I’ve never seen that comment made about the class of people usually profiled in this section.

  59. Hooray for love! Hope springs eternal, even under a bridge in Seattle. Cheers to their love and relationship, may it strengthen and raise them up together for a better and safer life.

  60. Only in Seattle. And I mean that in a good way. Best wishes.

  61. One step st a time, Phyliss.

  62. Please, all of the responders to this story, come to Seattle on vacation and experience the tent city that this city had become. The people who helped the couple celebrate their marriage would have better used their time and resources to get the couple out from under the bridge. It is not sweet and heartening to leave them there. Feel good, maybe, but not sweet.

  63. Here are truths which are self-evident neither to the NYT nor this article’s commentariat: homelessness is dangerous, squalid, cruel and degrading. It is not romantic. It is not a valid “lifestyle choice.” Allowing women and children to live this way is today’s socially acceptable domestic and child abuse. It needs to stop but I don’t know how the Left Coast gets that done short of The Big One sending everything west of the Cascades crashing into the sea. I love the Willamette Valley as much as I love anywhere so that isn’t gonna work for me.

  64. Do you really think the amount of time and of resources that go into the once-a-week meals and into helping this couple celebrate their marriage are sufficient to get the Seattle homeless off the streets? What are your suggestions for a workable plan that deals with addiction, mental health issues, bad luck in the job market, and other issues that are among the reasons that people end up living in homeless camps? At least the people doing the meals and celebrating the wedding are recognizing their common humanity with the homeless. What are you doing besides judging?

  65. @Briana LeClaire There are homeless in Boise and Meridian. I was just there in late February and they were quite obvious. And even in the resort town of Ketchum Idaho there have been homeless for years as well as many living in squalid conditions. I used to deliver meals on wheels there in the Wood River Valley and the conditions many live in are so sad and some are within shouting distance of multimillion dollar homes.

  66. After being so uplifted by this article, recounting how two individuals have overcome significant trauma and seem to have found peace and happiness thanks to another human being's love and trust, I read the comments. Note to self: Never read the comments.

  67. I was thinking the same thing.

  68. Wouldn’t it make more sense to help homeless people relocate?

  69. To where? Homes and substantial support services are needed for most who are homeless.

  70. Thank you for publishing this article! Candice Pires and NYT have added a wonderful human dimension to the lives of Vestal and Kitchen. I drive Seattle's tent camps regularly and have a new understanding of the community that is there and some of the challenges its residence face. It is very healthy to challenge my assumptions!

  71. Heart warming story except where you felt it was important to note that Ms. Vestal calls her adoptive parents Mom and Dad. As an adoptive mom, this was a stab in the heart for most adoptive parents and their children. What do you think she should call her parents? If Mr. Kitchen calls his parents Hal and Ann, would you have noted this? Adding this to your story only continues to perpetuate the stereotype that adoptive children and parents are somehow 'lesser' of a family than birth families. While it's true that some adoptive parents drive their children over a cliff, it's also true that some birth parents chain their 13 children up, don't feed them and only allow them a bath once per year.

  72. This lovely couple is described as homeless, yet it seems to me they have a sturdier home than many who live in mansions. And people struggle. Life is messy. I hope we can find a way as a country to judge less and love more.

  73. To the author : "Her adoptive parents who she refers to as Mom and Dad..." Of course they are Mom and Dad! She was adopted at birth, and even if adopted as a teen, her Mom and Dad are the ones who, daily, care for and live her! Please start referring to adoptees and their parents as the "real families", because that's what they are. In this era when blended families are common, it still astonishes me that people refuse to acknowledge the deep family bonds of adoption. Your attitude perpetuates the perception of adoptees as throwaways with no real place in family or society.

  74. An amazing story during a period in history where political discourse and mistrust abounds. After reading this poignant article, I had a tear, because it showed that despite serious hardships, love always wins. Always.

  75. I’m happy for this couple but am disturbed by what this article leaves out and the way it romanticizes homelessness. Seattle’s unsheltered population is one of the highest in the country at approx. 11,000 and growing. The tent cities this couple and many other homeless people live in are regularly “swept” and destroyed by the city. The fencing you see in the background of several of the photos was put up specifically to displace and discourage homeless encampments. We have enormous wealth here but without income tax and the city council’s failure to mandate a “head tax” for large corporations, there’s no mandatory means by which to redistribute some of that wealth to those who can’t keep up with the soaring cost of living. This isn’t a sweet story. It’s a story about a city that’s failed its most vulnerable populations and liberals who’d rather hear feel good stories than take any real action.

  76. The homeless, lack of a social safety net, job training, treatment for all kinds of addiction are not the problems of cities. They are national problems, that could use more Federal funding, policy and coordination. The crisis in Seattle is an example of what happens when the Federal funding is pulled and cities have to rely on property taxes to pay for everything. Let's hope the next Administration can address this.

  77. Sorry, but there are just too many details in this story that just don't add up. It strikes me as one of those articles that is "accurate" in the sense that, yes, "Person A did in fact say such-and-such." But is the story really "true"?

  78. What doesn't add up? What part are you doubting?

  79. Here are a few, based on reading the article: Between the two of them, they have 18 children, including six nurses and four servicemen. Why no names? Why no quotes? Not even a line saying, "So-and-so did not return calls/could not be reached for comment." Her adoptive mother was "president" of a newspaper and her adoptive father was "president" of an oil company. Really? We are told the Seattle couple visited their house last Thanksgiving. Was there any attempt to reach out to the family in Alaska? You know, even just to include some comments about that delicious jerk goose? The article doesn't say. The closest we get to hearing from a relative of the bride is when she used a borrowed phone to call a sister. But it doesn't appear the writer spoke to or even overheard the sister. Look, I wish the newlyweds all the best. Homelessness is a serious issue and the homeless deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion. It just seems to me there are some holes in this particular story.

  80. Yet no one seems interested in marrying me. I obviously need to make a serious reevaluation of my life.

  81. Is housing so expensive in Seattle that 2 working people can't find adequate shelter? The article says he works in construction and she makes jewelry. Certainly there must be a low income rental housing available to them so they don't have to live in these conditions. If not shame on Seattle m

  82. I’ve lived here in Seattle for 20 years. Yes, it is indeed that expensive as of a few years ago. Lots of admirable efforts by excellent people to create more affordable housing, but there’s not enough and the problem is growing exponentially.

  83. so far in the comments I haven’t seen anyone mention the homeless flower girl and her infant sibling. I wouldn’t wish a homeless childhood on anyone. And the bride’s history of sexual abuse by her grandfather, surely an understandable reason to run away from home and self medicate, no? oh and all the people complaining about the handouts these people are getting, what do the corporate handouts in your city look like?

  84. I often wonder, given the precarious nature of middle-class life nowadays, how many NYTimes readers would be able to navigate homeless life on the streets. I mean this question seriously, because it happened to me and my little family over thirty years ago through no fault of our own (simultaneous job lay-offs). It doesn’t surprise me this couple married under the freeway either; I pass homeless people on my way to work every single day. Why >not< get married? But I also give thanks I’m not among them - yet. To this day, I intentionally have a car that I could sleep in and live out of, and some supplies to do it, if the bottom fell out again, so I guess one could say I was traumatized by the experience. While wondering what to do about the homeless in the short term is what most ponder, it might be better to think on the predatory capitalism, shredding of regulations, and the incessant attack upon decent middle-class jobs and unions that have created this situation in the first place. And while there may be plenty of people who are addicts when they land on the street; there are also probably plenty who land there, lose hope, and start taking drugs after the fact. If you’re an ordinary working stiff, and you don’t have a good stash of money at hand, your life is hanging by a thread. It happened to me. It could happen to you. Think about that next time you see tents under the freeway.

  85. People lighting up, this is a wedding announcement let's give these two individuals whose life was filled with hardship their day in the sun. Wish them happiness and stop being judgmental, tomorrow they will face these challenges again but just for now let them shine.

  86. It is not OK to be homeless in Seattle. The tents are an eyesore. There is trash all over the place. Drug use is rampant. Streets and parks are used as bathrooms. It is cold and wet most of the time. What have we become if we let people live under these horrific conditions simply because they want to? I am sick to my stomach as to what Seattle has become. This is not compassion and liberalism. It is a complete failure of our government to properly address a problem that festers and grows.

  87. Why don't you try volunteering to help. You might learn that most of these peoples choices are limited

  88. Seattlittes are dealing with an extraordinary tent problem. After reading this article I hesitate to call it a "homeless" problem. I've lived here 25 years, and recently the public landscape has been transformed by tents due to legislation that allows camping almost anywhere on city property. Last week I took a boat through the ship canal (locks to Lake Union) and saw tents all along the waterfront footpath. This was a rare urban gem, you could take small children to see the ducks, boats, and water, but now it's impassible and filled with garbage. We'll add it to the list of public spaces that Seattlittes can no longer access because of tent encampments. I've seen a school football game forced to play around a tent because someone chose to live in the end zone. Which you can do on any city owned field, even the ones that are being used for kids' sports. Nearly every Seattle greenbelt and underpass has tents & garbage. But lately I've seen tents on parking strips, sidewalks, skateboard parks, playgrounds... Their wedding clothes were stolen because tent encampments have crime problems. I support public assistance but object to the toxic encampments that are rapidly replacing all of Seattle's public space. I have tremendous compassion for anyone who has lost their home and is forced to live on the streets. But if you have a 5 bedroom house in Arizona, please pack up your tent go home. And if he was lying about the big house, maybe the NYT could try some fact checking.

  89. Lucky for you you do not have to live this way. You might want to try a little compassion for those who do. It could happen to you or anyone.

  90. Why is anyone living under the freeway in Seattle which is home to billionaires? Why is anyone homeless there or anywhere in our country for that matter? It's a disgrace that people are forced to live in tents under the freeway and in parks. Shame on us and our country for allowing this.

  91. Everyone deserves happiness. Everyone. I hope they get away to honeymoon some place special.

  92. I am trying to get my head aroun this " vows" , and the fact that some readers think it is a beautiful story, that is good to finally show class diversity, or comments questioning if those are really homeless...

  93. I don't know why people are offended by learning a homeless is finally happy and is moving forward with his/her life. Please people - you walk/drive by these people and ignore them every day and pity them... perhaps making yourselves feel better that you are miserable but have a roof over your head. This time there is a good story to write about. NYT thank you for writing this. The article about the woman with mental illness a few weeks back was very sad. I'm glad you did this one. I happen to see a homeless guy in front of a pharmacy not far from where I live. I buy him food from time to time... ex-addict in need of a break. I can't provide the break but I can provide the care for $6 with a soup. For a split second I make myself happy that I gave this man 5 minutes of joy. Even once I wanted give him food and a Cop was talking to him - he had just bought him coffee. He knew him too. Please people... don't be so judgemental. Thank you to all those that helped them celebrate their union ! Truly a fantastic uplifting article. It put a smile on my face... and the characters were real.

  94. I live near Seattle and know that there is a large homeless population that the city struggles to cope with. I hope Ms. Vestal and Mr. Kitcheon can forge a life together that makes them happy and keeps them safe. I am quite astonished by some of the really judgemental comments. Do those leaving such comments believe that only those who have a home have a right to love and happiness?

  95. Some comments here make me think of the Anatole France quotation: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. I do wonder what this worsening situation of homelessness, even as the economy improves, says about our country. It is, I think, a many-faceted problem, and some aspects of it are extremely difficult to deal with: those whose lives are torn asunder by addiction and those who have mental health issues, some serious, some transient, for example. And then there are the people who have always been on the fringes of society, the wanderers, always off to someplace new, never able to make a commitment to work or to other people. There may always be some level of homelessness; after all, even Denmark, which many of us think of as having its act together, is beset with a rising level of homelessness. But many of today's homeless here in the U.S. are homeless because of complex economic trends. Some, just like the individual issues of addiction and mental health, are not easy to solve--things like loss of jobs because of larger forces. But others? We have too many people who believe that minimum wage workers don't deserve anything better, we resent the poor who need SNAP or TANF or Medicaid, we give the biggest tax cuts to the richest. Not that we were ever perfect at it, but we seem to be moving farther and farther away from the ideal that everyone here deserves a decent life.

  96. Thanks for this departure from the usual “Vows.” There is very little romantic about this couples’ lives, except for the most important thing in any romance: the practice of love. Here in Seattle, where I’ve lived for nearly thirty years, I am often shocked at the terrible conditions endured by the homeless, in one of America’s wealthiest cities. Sometimes it seems that the pain is self-inflicted, but I know the bigger truth is that we have failed these people as a nation. The city itself can only do so much. A guaranteed wage, health care as a right, a modest home for all, and extraordinarily higher taxes on the wealthy, federal and state, are needed to fund these programs. Unfortunately we are a long way from that in the land of the “free.” Every man for himself I guess. Thanks for giving me a new look at some of the folks I see every day. I am glad they have found some joy.

  97. What a story! What is most interesting to me in this story is the human quality of the people involved. It raises many questions - why did this woman become homeless, even with her problems, given her background? Why does this man choose to live on the streets when he has a home to go to? How does someone who is homeless wind up with ten children who are either in the military or are nurses? What does love mean? Why does it have such an effect on people and change their lives? What does it mean to have a "homeless community"? Only the Times would publish this and only Times readers could make such amazing commentary. Thank you.

  98. I am impessed that the New York Times featured this lovely couple even though they are far from famous and well-off. In fact the sad fact of their poverty and their strength despite it, is inspiring. Now if only the rag tag leaders that we have would read this story They would know that these two people and many more are working and paying their way as best they can.

  99. Typically, NYT doesn't give readers the option to post on featured weddings. Why this time?