[Hpn] SEATTLE doubles "homeless spending" but population remains same (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Wed, 14 Feb 2001 17:46:27 -0800 (PST)

http://newsfinder.arinet.com/fpweb/fp.dll/$stargeneral/htm/x_dv.htm/_ibyx/cg0302 6/_itox/starnet/_svc/news/_Id/702656280/_k/bvpIkcKGTv11WJnM FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Feb 13 2001 SEATTLE HOMELESS SPENDING DOUBLES; POPULATION REMAINS SAME SEATTLE (AP) _ The number of homeless here hasn't dropped, even though the city is doubling spending on the problem. In 1996, Seattle spent $7.2 million for homeless services. By 2002, the amount will be $15 million, but the homeless population is still estimated at about 4,500. Rising housing costs are contributing to the problem, city officials say. ``The challenge we face, and at this moment we don't know how it will be answered, is moving people into permanent housing,'' said Alan Painter, who leads the city's community division. ``It's hard to see land prices coming down and landlords charging substantially less.'' As rents increase, people spend more time in shelters and transitional homes. That leads to longer waiting lists and more people ending up in emergency shelters or on the street. The lure of a booming local economy also has drawn people to Seattle, but not all have been able to cash in. ``They came with too little savings and not enough skills to get by when things didn't work out as they planned,'' said Georgia Conti, a homeless planner for the city. Seattle Mayor Paul Schell made the homeless problem a top priority in 1998, pledging to get all homeless women and children off the streets by Christmas. The number of year-round shelter beds has increased from 2,046 in February 1998 to 2,278, with the city funding about three-quarters of the beds. The number of transitional housing units, where residents can stay as long as two years, has increased from 693 in February 1998 to 1,130 now. In a letter signed by more than 40 of the nation's mayors last month, Schell called on President George W. Bush to increase federal spending for the homeless. He hopes to keep the issue on the front burner, Deputy Mayor Tom Byers said. >But John Fox of the Seattle Displacement Coalition contends that city officials lack commitment to creating inexpensive housing downtown to replace thousands of units lost in the 1970s and 1980s. ``Spending on the homeless pales in relationship to what we need,'' Fox said. ``It's a third or fourth priority.'' A 100-person tent city has become a symbol of Seattle's homeless problem. The tent city, in its 11th month, emerged last spring after emergency winter shelters closed. It has since moved from site to site, and currently is in the parking lot of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, northeast of downtown. Greg Powers, a tent city resident and member of its executive committee, said any change in services for the homeless also should include a change in the homeless shelter environment. Powers has stayed in several homeless shelters and said he considers the tent city the most decent place to live and the one that offers the most privacy. At shelters couples are separated and beds are within inches of each other, Powers said. Tight quarters can be a problem when other homeless people are driven to dangerous behavior by substance abuse or mental illness, he said. ``You absorb that hopelessness.'' AP-WS-02-13-01 0207EST Received Id AP10104476D3AD0A on Feb 13 2001 01:09 END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************