Five years ago, fourteen tower cranes dominated the Bellevue Washington skyline. Real estate development was booming. Then the financial market bubbles burst, with widespread impact. Everyone in the community knows developers, architects, engineers, and others whose personal lives changed along with economic times.
I recently encountered one of these friends, James. He drew my attention upward to the office building at the corner of 110th Ave NE and NE 6th Street. The building says “Microsoft” across the top, and it is near City Hall.
“That was my last project,” he said. “We completed it in December 2007. My crew was laid off in January 2008. There were no more construction jobs. I lost my apartment in May 2010. I have four technical degrees, honorable discharges from two branches of the military, and I haven’t been able to get a job since then.”
The people made jobless and homeless as “collateral damage” of the financial meltdown are not faceless “others.” One is James. Look for him selling the Real Change Newspaper near the Bellevue Transit Center. You’ll know him when you see him: he wears shorts and hiking boots 12 months a year. He wants to work, so he sells Real Change.
He would like to use more of this time “between jobs” doing handyman work for people in the community. Maybe even at the homes of people who have jobs in that building that he helped to build. Before he lost his job and then his home.