Laura Coffey

Laura T. Coffey is a writer, editor, and producer who lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Recent Articles

Home Disadvantage

A small Seattle community battles health disparities that disproportionately affect the poor and people of color.

Patients visit a bilingual clinic. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Bill Owens, a 52-year-old small-business owner, loves his Seattle neighborhood of South Park for its racial and ethnic diversity. Owens has become close to his neighbors of Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Guatemalan, and Jamaican descent. Yet Owens and his friends are making themselves sick by residing in South Park, an industrial area south of downtown Seattle that is home to more than 3,700 people. Among the daily risks and challenges they face are limited access to healthy food, exposure to environmental toxins, and restricted transportation options. These and other burdens, including economic insecurity, weigh heavily on South Park residents. For Owens, who is diabetic and has high blood pressure, chronic stress feels normal. The canine-supply business he owns nearly folded after a bridge connecting South Park to the rest of Seattle closed last summer for safety reasons. Owens' trusted service dog, a chow named Honey Bear, gives him comfort, but he can't let her dig or eat grass on...