Local News: WHEEL Homeless Women's Forum Nov 18, 1998

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Sun, 15 Nov 1998 16:42:45 -0800

WHEEL (Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League) is a grassroots
action group of homeless and formerly homeless women in Seattle Washington
organizing for solutions to the specific needs and issues of homeless
women, and the end of homelessness.  We have had a number of successes over
the last four years, including the opening of the Federal Building for
night-time use as a women's shelter; extended hours at Angeline's Day
Center, so that women do not have to wait on the street for the opening of
nightime shelters; and a new housing project, Dorothy Day House, for older
women and those who have been homeless for an extended period of time.

Each year since 1995 we have had a Homeless Women's Forum, where we invite
business and civic leaders to come hear us, the experts, present programs
that *we* have designed.  We ask for partnerships to make these projects a
reality, and every year we do get partners.

November 18th we are holding our the annual Homeless Women's Forum.  The
theme this year is "Portraits: Healing Light", and is also the title of a
52-page book of art and poetry from the homeless women's community.

The goals we are setting this year are:

1) Completion of the projects begun under the Mayor's "Home for Christmas"

2) Business matches to the Mayor's $500,000 "Home for Christmas" fund.

3) The Women's Empowerment Center: a self-managed day program for job skill
training, organizing, and peer support for women finding jobs and keeping

4) Tent City 3: As long as there is not enough shelter and housing for
everyone, we must allow people forced to sleep outside to group together
and organize sanitary and health facilities for themselves.

5) Storage: It is difficult to go to class or to a job or even to meals
when you have to carry everything you own with you.  Changes in current
programs have resulted in a net loss of storage, so the need is becoming
increasingly critical.

6) Really, truly, shelter for every woman: including a 24-hour emergency
"safe center" for any woman stranded without shelter at any hour, and
housing and shelter options for women with current alcohol and drug use or
with behavioral difficulties.   *Everyone* deserves dignity.  Let *no one*
be left outside.

We are happy to look back and note that of the seven goals we announced
last year, we have achieved four and made great strides toward the others.
We look forward to announcing similar victories in 1999.

Anitra L. Freeman, Dances With Dragons, http://members.xoom.com/Anitra/ --
an entry point for the new Writers Ring!
See http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/projects.html for a full list of
projects and websites, because if I list them all here you are going to be
*so* mad at me...