SHARE Response to Mayor

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Sat, 20 Jun 1998 17:55:47 -0700 (PDT)


Friday, the Mayor ordered SHARE to disband Tent City 2, our encampment on
Beacon Hill.  We left the decision about the response to this up to those
most directly affected, the sixty people currently using Tent City 2.
Their decision was to move the encampment to the Jungle.

This is the letter SGARE prepared today to send to the Mayor's office:

Dear Mayor Schell:

As your Deputy Mayor requested yesterday, SHARE/WHEEL will be taking down
the Tent City2 Encampment near the Beacon Hill Reservoir Thursday Morning.
For most Tent City2 folks it will be the beginning of an exodus back to the
jungle.

Mr. Byers told us the reasoning for this request was that SHARE/WHEEL had
given no warning to neighbors that Tent City2 would begin, that our
encampment had not included community participation, that we had not
applied for the proper permits, and that we might not be conforming to
various land use codes.   He graciously pointed out that we had done a
commendable job of operating Tent City2.

Alan Painter took the lead yesterday in describing the steps your
Administration will soon be taking:   The Municipal Building will be
available for a 50 bed shelter all year-round, and the City will provide
support for its operations.   Your initiatives for homeless women, families
and children will continue.   Additional County Support for another
downtown shelter is being sought.     The City Housing Levy Process will be
open to Homeless Hostel or Bunkhouse Models.   The city is also seeking
another downtown shelter site.

This morning your Special Assistant, Theresa Fujiwara, called our office
and expressed optimism that the Port of Seattle could work with us quickly
on opening a shelter in a vacant office building owned by the Port.

Thank you for these efforts.  To the best of our ability we will support
all of these initiatives and participate in them when helpful   Practically
speaking, for SHARE/WHEEL to do more ongoing shelter, such as at the Muni
Building, we would need two houses for SHARE2 Staff and support of a SHARE2
Coordinator.

None of these initiatives solves the problem of the over 1,000 men, women,
and children sleeping outside tonight in Seattle - including those in Tent
City2.   Most of us outside have no choice.   The lack of choice exposes us
to sickness, squalor, theft, assault, disrespect, disempowerment, and
occasionally death.

If Ballard were smashed in an earthquake and those who lost their houses
had nowhere to go, your government would not hesitate to do whatever it
took - including tents - to get them inside that night.   We are no less
important, and we deserve no less.   To expect us to stay in the alleys,
hide in the bushes, and avoid City Parks at night to avoid banishment until
there is enough shelter and housing is unconscionable.

This is an emergency, and it is necessary for us to seek shelter together
to survive.   Not 50 of us, or 100, but all of us.   It is necessary for
your government and the city to respect these efforts and help them succeed.

We appreciate your intentions.  We and our friends are cold, hungry, and
dying, right now, tonight.   We do intend to continue taking life-saving
measures.   Tent City2 and many more efforts must continue.

For the last several weeks City of Seattle spokespeople have repeatedly
said that the problem with the Jungle was lack of sanitation and safety.
If that is the truth you will allow responsible people who have solved
these problems to live there in peace - at least until there is enough
indoor shelter in Seattle for everyone.

---

WHEEL prepared a separate letter, with much stronger wording about the risk
to women sleeping outside and the urgent need for encampments, challenging
the Mayor's office to support encampments -- if not at Beacon Hill, then at
another location, but *now*.  I don't have the text of the WHEEL letter on
disk yet.

The folks at Tent City 2 are holding a "goodbye potluck" for the Beacon
Hill community Wednesday night.  There will be trucks hauling the tents
Thursday morning, but the people are going to make the "exodus" in a public
walk, and are asking supporters to walk with us.


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