[Hpn] SEATTLE TENT VILLAGE - BBC reports on homeless people's struggle
Wed, 21 Feb 2001 14:30:20 -0800 (PST)
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FWD BBC News Online: World: Americas - Friday, 16 February, 2001, 13:56 GMT
HOMELESS IN SEATTLE
House prices have escalated so much in Seattle
that those desperate to get a foot on the housing ladder
are resorting to extreme measures.
By Julie Etchingham in Seattle
In the shadow of St Mark's Cathedral, in one of the wealthiest districts of
Seattle, a community has set up camp - 100 people out of 6,000 homeless in
Tent Village has moved 14 times since it was set up in March last year.
Today it has to move on again - creating huge disruption for those trying
to live as normal a life as possible.
Mornings at Tent Village are busy because at least half the people who live
here get up to go to work. But their living circumstances are a fact many
keep secret from their employers for fear of losing their jobs.
Don Mitchell, who works as a builder, arrived in Seattle from Los Angeles,
dreaming of cashing in on the area's success.
"I'm not happy living in a tent but while I've got breath in my body I'll
get up to work," he said. "It's hard - you have to learn to cope. You work
in the cold and you come home to sleep in the cold. It's uncomfortable."
Rules are strict at tent village - no alcohol, no drugs, and demarcated
areas for families, singles and couples.
Everyone who lives here says it's more civilised than staying in the city's
homeless shelters where inflexible regimes make it extremely difficult to
hold down a job.
The very success of the region is putting up roadblocks to having homes
Greg Powers works in the fishing industry. He's lived in a tent for three
months - and is still trying to get the money together to put down a
deposit on a small flat.
"Times are good and jobs are out there," he said. "The boom's not been
quite as good as it was last year, although you can get work.
"But the rent, even on a small apartment, is about $800 a month -
impossible if you earn the sort of money I do. The very success of the
region is putting up roadblocks to having homes."
Seattle, which is home to Microsoft, Boeing and Amazon.com, has defined the
feel-good factor in the US economy in recent years. The speed of growth may
be slowing, but people are still pouring into the area - only to be faced
by a housing market which puts the average cost of a family home at nearly
The city council is spending $14m a year on provision of shelters for the
homeless and, in conjunction with charitable organisations, is also
building thousands of low-cost houses. But for every home built, three or
four are torn down for redevelopment of lucrative business space.
Federal government funding for public housing was curbed sharply under
Ronald Reagan, and has not been revived since. The city's deputy mayor says
it has put them in an impossible position.
"In the US, the production of public housing used to be a central mission
in the federal government - Reagan ended all that and it's been that way
since then," he said.
"When the federal government takes a laissez-faire attitude towards a
fundamental human need then you're going to have this problem - and the
local government won't be able to deal with it."
The congregation of St Mark's has been supportive of the guests in their
car park, and the dean has coordinated meetings between the tent villagers
and the authorities in an effort to address the issue.
He says there are lessons here for every city struggling with housing
"Do we want our cities to become ghettos for the wealthy, or do we want to
have vibrant cities filled with people from across the economic and
cultural spectrum," he said.
"These are issues for all of our major cities in nearly every part of the
Tent village hasn't just provided shelter for the struggling, it's also
become a potent symbol of the plight of homeless people everywhere.
As its inhabitants prepare to move on, they reflect the needs of all those
looking for a home and a future in the city.
**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.**
FWD Seattle Times - Local News : Monday, February 12, 2001
TENT VILLAGE LIVES ON DESPITE CITY'S EFFORTS
By Beth Kaiman - Seattle Times staff reporter
"But despite the increase in the city's spending on homelessness, John Fox
of the Seattle Displacement Coalition says officials should hardly be
congratulated. City government, he said, is directly responsible for growth
policies that wiped out thousands of cheap apartments downtown."
FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Feb 13 2001
SEATTLE HOMELESS SPENDING DOUBLES; POPULATION REMAINS SAME
FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Jan 16, 2001
HOMELESS IN SEATTLE MOVE TENTS TO CITY PARK
FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Jan 05, 2221
CITY DENIES REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY PERMIT FOR HOMELESS CAMP
FWD Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Friday, January 5, 2001
CAMP FOR SEATTLE'S HOMELESS IS FORCED TO MOVE AGAIN
FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Sep 10, 2000
EL CENTRO SEEKS PERMIT TO KEEP TENT CITY ON SITE
SEE ALSO http://www.realchangenews.org/issue/current/index.html
Real Change News
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