[Hpn] No place for mobile homeless

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 17 Feb 2008 09:40:32 -0500


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No place for mobile homeless
Danny Westneat

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2004186954_danny17.ht=
ml

Seattle Times staff columnist

    =20


  a.. People sleeping in their cars ain't news.
That's what a man living in a Volvo wagon in Seattle's "rolling slum," a =
car-camping colony in Ballard, told me two years ago. I met him while =
writing about the mobile homeless - people moneyed enough to own a car, =
but too poor to pay the rent.They park in industrial parts of town and =
make a life of it. Many work jobs. The story two years ago was that 100 =
or so had congregated in Ballard. It was Hooverville on wheels.

The story today is quite different. The problem is worse, and, if =
possible, even more invisible than it was before.

The number of car campers has surged. Last month, social-service groups =
held the One Night Count. For 20 years volunteers have tallied who is =
living on the streets.

This year they found that urban car camping soared 25 percent in King =
County. In Seattle, it's up 45 percent. The mobile homeless now are by =
far the largest group sleeping on this city's streets.

Yet out in lower Ballard, near where the Ballard Bridge touches down, =
the streets are mostly empty. The other night, in a 12-block area, I =
found only five people overnighting in vans or campers. The old rolling =
slum is gone.

What happened is the city told them to beat it.

"There were a lot of complaints from businesses and from Mars Hill =
Church," said Beth Miller, head of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce. =
"There were so many camped on the street that there wasn't much room for =
anyone else to park."

So the city put up signs: "No Parking. 2-5 a.m." That rousted them all =
out of there.

It's true something had to be done. The Ballard colony had grown out of =
control. It was bigger than a tent city, yet unregulated. Trash was =
strewn around. Campfires were set on sidewalks. Two denizens died of =
heroin overdoses.

But here's the thing: All the city did was put up signs and then enforce =
them. At which time the slum predictably rolled off to ... somewhere =
else.

"We don't know where they went," Miller says. "We've heard that some =
moved into the residential areas.

"It all seems shortsighted to me. We work to push the problem out of =
here. But then of course it moves over there."

A homeless advocate I spoke to called the city's crackdown "a cruelty =
campaign." To me it seems less cruel than dumb.

Faced with its own rolling slums, here's what a smarter city did. Santa =
Barbara, Calif., started a "Safe Parking" program. It allows people to =
park overnight in a dozen lots owned by the city, churches and =
businesses.

There are lots of rules. You have to have car insurance. No more than =
five vehicles per lot. You must leave in the morning.

Police there say the program hasn't ended street camping, but it is =
working. So why don't we try something like it here?

Because we don't want to be too inviting to the homeless?

Because it's dehumanizing to just give them parking lots?

Because the path of least resistance is to put up no-parking signs?

I don't know. I'd guess it goes to what that guy living in his Volvo =
said. People sleeping in cars ain't news. It wasn't story enough to =
matter much then. And it still ain't today.

Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him at =
206-464-2086 or dwestneat@seattletimes.com.
















New Hampshire Homeless
Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640 USA
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.
1-603-286-2492
http://www.missingkids.com
http://www.nationalhomeless.org
http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org
newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com

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<DIV>
<H1>No place for mobile homeless</H1>
<P class=3Dbyline><A href=3D"mailto:dwestneat@seattletimes.com">Danny=20
Westneat</A></P>
<P class=3Dbyline><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/2004186954_da=
nny17.html">http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/200418695=
4_danny17.html</A></FONT></P>
<P class=3Dsource>Seattle Times staff columnist</P><!-- start mugshot =
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<TABLE style=3D"PADDING-RIGHT: 10px; PADDING-BOTTOM: 5px; WIDTH: 70px"=20
cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 align=3Dleft border=3D0>
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      href=3D"http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/dannywestneat/"><IMG =
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<DIV class=3Dbackgrounds>
<P class=3Drelatedlabel>&nbsp;</P>
<UL class=3Diconbglink>
  <LI class=3DRelated_story>People sleeping in their cars ain't=20
news.</LI></UL></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbody>
<P>That's what a man living in a Volvo wagon in Seattle's "rolling =
slum," a=20
car-camping colony in Ballard, told me two years ago. I met him while =
writing=20
about the mobile homeless =97 people moneyed enough to own a car, but =
too poor to=20
pay the rent.They park in industrial parts of town and make a life of =
it. Many=20
work jobs. The story two years ago was that 100 or so had congregated in =

Ballard. It was Hooverville on wheels.</P>
<P>The story today is quite different. The problem is worse, and, if =
possible,=20
even more invisible than it was before.</P>
<P>The number of car campers has surged. Last month, social-service =
groups held=20
the One Night Count. For 20 years volunteers have tallied who is living =
on the=20
streets.</P>
<P>This year they found that urban car camping soared 25 percent in King =
County.=20
In Seattle, it's up 45 percent. The mobile homeless now are by far the =
largest=20
group sleeping on this city's streets.</P>
<P>Yet out in lower Ballard, near where the Ballard Bridge touches down, =
the=20
streets are mostly empty. The other night, in a 12-block area, I found =
only five=20
people overnighting in vans or campers. The old rolling slum is =
gone.</P>
<P>What happened is the city told them to beat it.</P>
<P>"There were a lot of complaints from businesses and from Mars Hill =
Church,"=20
said Beth Miller, head of the Ballard Chamber of Commerce. "There were =
so many=20
camped on the street that there wasn't much room for anyone else to =
park."</P>
<P>So the city put up signs: "No Parking. 2-5 a.m." That rousted them =
all out of=20
there.</P>
<P>It's true something had to be done. The Ballard colony had grown out =
of=20
control. It was bigger than a tent city, yet unregulated. Trash was =
strewn=20
around. Campfires were set on sidewalks. Two denizens died of heroin=20
overdoses.</P>
<P>But here's the thing: All the city did was put up signs and then =
enforce=20
them. At which time the slum predictably rolled off to ... somewhere =
else.</P>
<P>"We don't know where they went," Miller says. "We've heard that some =
moved=20
into the residential areas.</P><!------ OAS AD 'Middle3' begin ------>
<SCRIPT language=3DJavaScript>=0A=
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OAS_AD('Middle3');=0A=
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<!------ OAS AD 'Middle3' end ------>
<P>"It all seems shortsighted to me. We work to push the problem out of =
here.=20
But then of course it moves over there."</P>
<P>A homeless advocate I spoke to called the city's crackdown "a cruelty =

campaign." To me it seems less cruel than dumb.</P>
<P>Faced with its own rolling slums, here's what a smarter city did. =
Santa=20
Barbara, Calif., started a "Safe Parking" program. It allows people to =
park=20
overnight in a dozen lots owned by the city, churches and =
businesses.</P>
<P>There are lots of rules. You have to have car insurance. No more than =
five=20
vehicles per lot. You must leave in the morning.</P>
<P>Police there say the program hasn't ended street camping, but it is =
working.=20
So why don't we try something like it here?</P>
<P>Because we don't want to be too inviting to the homeless?</P>
<P>Because it's dehumanizing to just give them parking lots?</P>
<P>Because the path of least resistance is to put up no-parking =
signs?</P>
<P>I don't know. I'd guess it goes to what that guy living in his Volvo =
said.=20
People sleeping in cars ain't news. It wasn't story enough to matter =
much then.=20
And it still ain't today.</P>
<P><EM>Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Sunday. Reach him =
at=20
206-464-2086 or <A=20
href=3D"mailto:dwestneat@seattletimes.com">dwestneat@seattletimes.com</A>=
.</EM></P>
<P><EM></EM>&nbsp;</P>
<P><EM></EM>&nbsp;</P>
<P><EM></EM>&nbsp;</P>
<P><EM></EM>&nbsp;</P>
<P><EM></EM>&nbsp;</P>
<P><EM></EM>&nbsp;</P>
<P>&nbsp;</P></DIV></DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><BR>New Hampshire Homeless<BR>Founded=20
11-28-99<BR>25 Granite Street<BR>Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640=20
USA<BR>Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human=20
rights.<BR>1-603-286-2492<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.missingkids.com">http://www.missingkids.com</A><BR><A =

href=3D"http://www.nationalhomeless.org">http://www.nationalhomeless.org<=
/A><BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org">http://www.newhampshirehomel=
ess.org</A><BR><A=20
href=3D"mailto:newhampshirehomeless-subscribe@topica.com">newhampshirehom=
eless-subscribe@topica.com</A><BR></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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