Re: Seattle considers "homeless camp" proposal of SHARE/WHEEL fwd

Judy Olsen (
Wed, 17 Mar 1999 22:55:07 -0800

Good going, Anitra!  Congradulations!
Judy O

Tom Boland wrote:

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> FWD  Seattle Times: Local News - Wed, 17 Mar 1999 21:30:14 GMT
> Linda Keene - Seattle Times staff reporter
>     A large outdoor encampment with tents, domes or yurts is one of several
> proposals the city of Seattle is considering under Mayor Paul Schell's
> stepped-up efforts to house homeless people.
>      Deputy Mayor Tom Byers said an encampment would be "very seriously"
> studied to address a homeless population that has grown to about 5,000
> people and costs the city $8 million a year in services.
>      The encampment is being proposed by SHARE/WHEEL, homeless people who
> run several shelters throughout Seattle. They envision a self-managed tent
> city, with garbage and other sanitation services included on a flat 1-acre
> site. The groups - Seattle Housing and Research Effort (SHARE) and the
> Women's Housing Equality Enhancement League (WHEEL) - have identified empty
> lots in the Cascade neighborhood, in industrial South Seattle and at the
> site of the former Hat  'N Boots gas station on East Marginal Way South.
>      The sites are speculative, and any permanent location would be
> contingent on community support and a comprehensive look at neighborhood
> impacts. The plan was prepared by Environmental Works Community Design
> Center, a nonprofit group that specializes in architectural work.
>      "We have enormous respect for SHARE and Environmental Works," said
> Byers. "So we will take it very seriously. These kinds of proposals are
> fraught with great difficulty, but we'll take an honest look at it."
>      That's a significant departure. Historically, Seattle has not
> tolerated encampments. In the 1930s, for example, about 1,000 homeless men
> lived in a shantytown  near where the Kingdome now stands. Twice the city
> burned it.  Twice its residents rebuilt it.
>      Although former Mayor Norm Rice committed millions of dollars to
> homeless programs, he also opposed encampments. In 1994 his administration
> demolished one, "The Jungle," on the lower slopes of Beacon Hill.
>      Schell has made homelessness a more visible priority. Last June, in
> one of his first major initiatives as mayor, Schell pledged to get women
> and families off the streets before Christmas. As part of that $500,000
> plan, he added more emergency beds to the city's Winter Response Shelters,
> bringing the total to more than 300.
>      At the end of this month, those beds will be eliminated, as they are
> each spring. But Schell's administration and City Councilman Peter
> Steinbrueck are trying to find some replacement shelters. Steinbrueck is
> chairman of the council's Housing, Human Services and Civil Rights
> Committee.
>      They have already identified funds to keep a 20-bed shelter for women
> open at St. Mark's  Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill. And they might
> keep the downtown Municipal Building open at night all year for older
> homeless men.
>      During a meeting yesterday at City Hall with homeless advocates,
> Steinbrueck stressed his commitment to ending homelessness: "I deeply
> regret we will see the loss of 336 shelter beds by the end of this month.
> It's a perennial problem."
>      Byers, who also attended the meeting, said the problem is so difficult
> to handle that "a little bit of fatigue is setting in."
>      "We're trying to put the will back into the community to address this
> problem," he said.
>      With that in mind, Schell's administration has created priorities for
> different homeless populations. Having boosted help for women and children,
> the city will now target frail or elderly men and homeless teens.
>      The city's motto is, "In the new millennium, no one has the street as
> their home."
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