Seattle homeless/insufficient shelters/misrepresentation -Re (fwd)

P. Myers (mpwr@u.washington.edu)
Fri, 12 Jun 1998 19:49:58 -0700 (PDT)


So.  Here is one response.  How do we evaluate this?  Pat Myers

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 17:58:00 -0700
From: "SEA-LEG.COUNCIL & CENTRAL STAFF:LHERBOL"
     <Lisa.Herbold@ci.seattle.wa.us>
To: "P. Myers" <mpwr@u.washington.edu>
Subject: Seattle homeless/insufficient shelters/misrepresentation -Re

      Date:  06/12/1998  05:58 pm  (Friday)
      From:  NLICATA (Lisa Herbold)
        To:  COS.ccMail("\"P. Myers\" <mpwr@u.washington.edu> at
             Internet")
   Subject:  Seattle homeless/insufficient shelters/misrepresentation
             -Reply

Dear Pat:

Thank you for you thoughtful email about the injustice of bulldozing what
has become home for many who have no homes.  I know that on an
average night there are, by conservative estimates, 1200 more people
needing shelter than we have available shelter beds.  I am sorry for the
uninformed comments of the Parks staff person who represented
homelessness as a lifestyle choice.  There is too little shelter for
people
with children, for Veterans, for women, for people with substance
abuse problems, for minimum wage working people, for people with
pets--indeed the spectrum of people suffering from lack of shelter is as
wide as the spectrum of people who have homes.

I believe that until we have as many shelter beds as people who need
them that the city ought to adopt tolerance policies towards our homeless
citizens.  To do anything else in this time where as a society we are
failing miserably to provide the most basic of human needs--housing--is
to criminalize the homeless.

You may have heard of my efforts to examine the effects of the Parks
Enhanced Code Enforcement Ordinance (otherwise known as the Parks
Exclusion Ordinance).  This law, passed last year, seems to have had a
far more devestating effect than the no sitting law or the aggressive
panhandling law.

In my deliberations over the enforcement of this law I will be sponsoring
a public hearing on June 16, at 6:30 PM as well as collecting data and
testimony to answer questions about the following:

HOW DOES THE ENFORCEMENT OF THIS LAW AFFECT REAL POLICE
WORK IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS?  Some people feel that this law most
benefits downtown business owners who have businesses around the
downtown parks.  Indeed 60% of the banishments issued are given in
downtown parks.   Instead, don't our residential neighborhoods need an
increased number of police officers and patrols, instead of fewer
officers with greater powers?

HAS THERE BEEN SELECTIVE ENFORCEMENT?   This legislation allows
citizens to be excluded from parks for violations ranging from dropping
used cigarette butts to committing felony crimes, yet why have 32% of
the banishments have been for after hours trespass?

ARE WE CRIMINALIZING HOMELESSNESS?   Seattle shelters turn
away approximately 1,200 people from shelters each night because of
lack of space.

DUE PROCESS  The activities that people can be  banished  from our
parks for are already illegal.  Yet this ordinance gives Seattle Police
Officers, Parks Department staff, and Animal Control Officers the
authority to banish someone from a park zone before anybody is found
guilty of a crime.

IS THIS LAW REALLY DEALING WITH UNLAWFUL BEHAVIOR IN OUR
PARKS?  In their December 3, 1997 report the Seattle Parks and
Recreation Department stated that  when persons are excluded from
one downtown park zone they move to another.

IS THE EXTENT USED APPROPRIATE?  The Seattle Police Department
reports show that in 6 months 1,094 people were banished from Seattle
parks for allegedly committing a crime.

If you have concerns as well about the affects of the Parks Exclusion
ordinance I hope that you will take the time to share your concerns with
other City Councilmembers.

Thank you.

Cordially,


Councilmember Nick Licata
>>> "P. Myers" <mpwr@u.washington.edu> at Internet 06/10/98 07:49pm
>>>

I am writing to protest the bulldozing of the Jungle when insufficient
beds
exist for homeless in Seattle.

Moreover, the Parks Representative on the News At Noon, who stated
that "this is a life choice" egregiously misrepresented homeless.  What
might have evolved into a productive discourse, interrogating the
insufficient number of beds available, and the  --  good  --  reasons
homeless find shelters dehumanizing and marginalizing, and how this
conferred identity is maintained in the public mind (in part by remarks
such as mentioned above)...such issues might have been explored, to
the learning of all involved, including homed citizenry.  Instead, we were
spoon fed more "for the
i
r own good" and "lifestyle choice" remarks.

A rare opportunity existed to raise the level of conversation about
homelessness.  Everyone interviewed failed utterly to do more than
replicate old stereotypes.  Homeless deserve an apology.

I encourage Mayor Schell to speak with representatives of SHARE.
Bulldozing the Jungle will only further fragment a population already
marginalized and voiceless...a population that needs to build
community...a population that has nothing for which to be ashamed, and
of which the public need not fear.

Pat Myers