Seattle: Good news, too

Anitra Freeman (anitra@speakeasy.org)
Sat, 16 Oct 1999 21:07:52 -0700 (PDT)


In the SHARE/WHEEL meeting with the Mayor's office this last Wednesday,
we were discussing three issues.  One was the City's plan to solve
homelessness by computerizing it, which you've already heard about.  

Another was the risk of one of our shelters, with 60 men, closing by
October 20th unless we could get $35,000 in funding. The number of beds
for shelter this winter is already lower than last winter, and this
would have lowered it further.

This shelter consists of people who stayed at Vets Hall in the Seattle
Center last winter, plus men who stayed at Bethel.  They have hung
together through the demolition of their former quarters and moves from
host to host.  SHARE took in the Vets Hall group after the end of the
city-funded Winter response period and has been stretching the SHARE
operating budget to cover both groups, but we're out of budget.  In
addition, the present host, Sacred Heart church, requires that the
shelter have a staff member on duty at all times to satisfy the
neighborhood. (The staff-member will be hired from the SHARE shelter
community.)

We heard back from the city Friday: We are getting the funding. The
60-bed shelter will continue to operate. And one more shelter resident
will have a job.

Another topic discussed at the Wednesday meeting was WTO, and our desire
to have a Tent City during WTO.  Deputy Mayor Tom Byers repeated the
City's assurances that "there will be no sweeps during WTO." (I don't
know how to attach a grain of salt to this email message, so please use
your own.)

We discussed having a Tent City during WTO.  I thought that the way Tom
wiggled was cute: he is willing to okay a Tent City is we call it a
political protest, but he is not happy about okaying a Tent City if we
insist it's a survival necessity.  What we heard back on Friday, though,
was simply that the City is willing to negotiate a Tent City, and wants
to talk to us about size, numbers, and location.

Further news about the computer issue: the Community Action for Homeless
Women group, a coalition of many of Seattle's service agencies plus
WHEEL and other homeless women which came together in 1998 and has been
working together ever since, is sending a united letter to the City
Council stating that the process of passing this proposal sucks (the
wording is different, I'm in a rush here) and the group suspects that
the whole idea sucks, explain yourself, yours truly, regards.

So far only two service agencies in the entire town support the
proposal: the Downtown Emergency Service Shelter  (who successfully got
Metro to remove the bus shelter from in front of their building because
too many people were loitering there) and the Union Gospel Mission
(their head, Bill Whipple, has gone to the newspapers before urging
people not to give money to panhandlers, give it to his mission
instead.)

Representatives from the City are going to attend the next meeting of
the Seattle-King County Coalition for the Homeless to answer questions
about the proposal. (And about plans for WTO.)  SHAE and WHEEL will be
there also.

Write On! / Anitra L. Freeman / http://www.speakeasy.org/~anitra/
"Never doubt that a small group of imperfect people can improve the
world--indeed they are the only ones who ever have." Not Margaret Mead