[Hpn] Homeless Women's Forum to Seattle: Spend $26 million on services fw

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 20 Nov 2000 02:14:31 -0800 (PST)

SHARE/WHEEL's Homeless Women's Forum sent a message to
Seattle City Council: Spend $26 million on homeless services

1902 Second Avenue
Seattle WA 98101
Phone: (206) 448-7889
Email: Anitra Freeman <anitra@speakeasy.org>

FWD  Seattle Times - Thursday, November 16, 2000


by Beth Kaiman
Seattle Times staff reporter

Homeless women gathered at Seattle's tent city yesterday to urge the City
Council to go beyond Mayor Paul Schell's proposal to spend $26 million on
homeless services in the next two years.

The council is scheduled to vote on the budget Nov. 27, and just as other
constituent groups are making their cases for city money, so, too, is the
homeless community.

The Homeless Women's Forum, which attracted about 300 homeless people and
social-service providers, was not particularly critical of Schell or of the
City Council, whom they generally see as sympathetic to their cause. But in
times of unprecedented plenty, advocates see a chance for the city to make
its biggest commitment yet to King County's estimated 6,000 homeless people.

"These are good times here," said Anitra Freeman, a member of Women's
Housing, Equality and Enhancement League, which sponsors the annual forum
and is an organizer of the tent city. "We mean it when we say, `If not now,
when?" If you can't come up with the money now to help, when can you?"

City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck is making the boldest proposal for
homeless services, suggesting that the city add an additional $12 million
during the next two years - including $8 million for transitional housing,
$2.7 million for shelters and $1 million in rental assistance.

Steinbrueck's plan seeks to find some of the funding within Schell's
two-year plan for more than $1 billion in general-fund spending. It also
would take advantage of new tax revenues that city budget officials predict
could reach $57 million next year.

"We can make a difference," said Steinbrueck, whose proposal was supported
at a rally yesterday afternoon outside the Municipal Building.

This year, Seattle spent nearly $10 million on shelter, food and case
management. Schell would raise that annual tab to $13 million by 2002.

The noontime forum at the tent city, which has been at El Centro de la Raza
on Beacon Hill since the summer, served as a reminder that the city remains
at odds with some of the homeless. The Department of Design, Construction
and Land Use has said El Centro is violating city code by hosting the tent
city because no encampment permit was issued. El Centro has applied and a
decision is expected by the end of the month. The city has not decided
whether to pursue fines of $75 a day that started in August.

About 100 people make the tent city their home. Louisa O'Shea, who spoke at
the forum yesterday, is among them. She is a mother of three and
grandmother of three more. She has stayed in shelters and subsidized
apartments but now can't find any openings. She suffers from depression,
can't hold a job because of it and lives on checks of about $550 a month
from the government.

For the past three months, a tent at El Centro has been a home and a
comfort. No more switching shelters every night. No more bundling up her
belongings in the morning for a day on the street.

"Nobody asked me a bunch of questions," she said. "They just gave me a tent."

[Seattle Times reporter Roberto Sanchez contributed to this story.]


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SEE ALSO Seattle Tent City III photo journal (with captions):

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