homelessness *is unacceptable and unnecessary

P. Myers (mpwr@u.washington.edu)
Fri, 12 Jun 1998 10:03:22 -0700 (PDT)


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, the world
a better place for everyone.  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