Re: homelessness *is unacceptable and unnecessary (fwd)

P. Myers (mpwr@u.washington.edu)
Sat, 8 Aug 1998 15:47:34 -0700 (PDT)


only took him 2 months to send the form letter.  whoo-hoo.  pat myers

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 8 Aug 1998 15:43:00 -0700
From: "DOM01.P0103:MOFFICE" <Mayors.Office@ci.seattle.wa.us>
To: "P. Myers" <mpwr@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Re: homelessness *is unacceptable and unnecessary

      Date:  08/08/1998  03:43 pm  (Saturday)
      From:  Mayors Office
        To:  "\"P. Myers\" <mpwr@u.washington.edu> at
             Internet"@COS.ccMail
   Subject:  Re: homelessness *is unacceptable and unnecessary

Thank you for contacting me to share your concerns about the clearing of
homeless encampments.  I apologize for the delay in responding.

The recent cleanup of encampments on Beacon Hill, in the East Duwamish
Greenbelt, was a coordinated effort of State, County, and City human
services agencies, and is consistent with a 10-year City policy.  This and
other cleanups are done in the most humane way possible.  Notices are
personally handed out to each resident at the encampment 1   2 days in
advance, in English and Spanish.  Community Service Officers are on-site
during the cleanup, to offer those present assistance and referral
services.

Encampment cleanups are done to address immediate public safety and health
issues.  In the specific instance of the Beacon Hill encampments, there
had been growing concern that rodent infestation was threatening to become
a public health hazard to the surrounding community.  In addition, an
apprehended, confessed murderer recently described this area as his
"playground," and we are taking that public safety risk very seriously.

I recognize that these cleanups are not a long-term solution to the
homeless problem, and I am working with the City Council to come up with a
comprehensive strategy involving not only local government, but the entire
community.  As a first step in that strategy, I have requested an
emergency funding measure to assure that all homeless children and women
are provided with shelter by Christmas of this year.  We will also
continue working to address the underlying problems that create
homelessness in our society, including the need for affordable housing,
mental health and substance abuse treatment, and employment and training
opportunities.  The City of Seattle currently spends nearly $8 million per
year on services to help the homeless.

Again, I appreciate your concern about this difficult issue, and encourage
you to stay involved as we seek out the best government and community
options to provide more permanent solutions to the homeless problem.

Very truly yours,




Paul Schell

cc: Ven Knox, Director, Department of Housing and Human Services


>>> "P. Myers" <mpwr@u.washington.edu> at Internet 06/12 10:03 AM >>>

Mayor Schell:

I am prompted to write again, concerning the bulldozing of the "Jungle" in
Seattle, recently named the most livable of the larger cities in the U.S.
In this most livable city, homeless sleep on hot air grates on the campus
of the University of Washington... in less inclement weather, they sleep
on the grass of campus, proper, largely ignored...invisible.

In this most livable of cities, downtown bus stops have had benches cut
off, only the standards and small pieces of wood between sanded and
laminated, leaving room for two sitters...one between each standard. This,
to discourage sitting or resting or sleeping by homeless...we go a long
way in Seattle, to maintain the *image of a city without homeless...
We have, in this most livable city, mean sweeps; no sitting injunctions,
and penalties around most activities not somehow connectable with middle
class life.  Indeed, in this most livable of cities, we are very close to
an Elizabethan Poor Law:  ready to lock up the poorest of the poor;
fragment through sweeps the rest.

And we are not alone.  Other cities internationally have adopted similar
harrassment tactics.  In San Diego, I am told, where for months homeless
have been camping in protest of shelter closures during El Nino, June 19th
has been targetted as the date that police will begin serious harassment.

This group needs an attorney, for a class action suit that *can be won!
But in Seattle, the most livable of cities, we have a Mayor Schell, who
has vowed to end homelessness...but first allows the bulldozing of the
Jungle, fragmenting and dispersing a community that needs, instead, to
come together around issues of identity and simple, decent human rights.
We all know that ignoring does *not make anything
 go away.  We try to teach, if we are parents, responsibility for making,
or leaving, t
he world a better place for eve
ryone.  Yet we accept homelessness; blame the victims (a "lifestyle
choice" as a Parks Rep. said recently?!); allow one another to "disappear"
homeless...on and on...anything but demand that this community of citizens
receive the respect and treatment that we demand for ourselves.

Mayor Schell, give back the most livable city label, until we are that,
for *all our citizens.  Because until then, we are the least livable...for
far too many.

Pat Myers