Friday, January 29, 2016

One Night Count, King County: 4,505

 4,505 homeless outside in King County

Photo from wikimedia commons, of people sleeping in Steinbrueck Park
(I added the number). Original photo by Joe Mabel, 2011.
That's how many we counted outside last night.
It's a preliminary number, but it shouldn't change very much.
4,505 is enough to populate a good-sized town. The town I grew up in numbered 330; the nearest larger town was 2500.
There is only one way to solve homelessness. It's really simple.

Homes are the answer to homelessness.

Not everyone agrees with me about that. Most politicians want complicated solutions, technological solutions, psychological solutions. But the fact of the matter is that without housing, those will likely not help.

Employment, for example. A number of homeless are employed. Perhaps 30-35% of them, nationwide. Most of those jobs are menial jobs. Dirty, nasty jobs. The wages are lousy, the working conditions poor. Long hours of drudgery. Here in Seattle, many homeless work for various temporary firms after sporting events and concerts, cleaning up the stadiums.

And what of those who are only really suited for office work? Whether disabled, or simply not suited to menial jobs or manual labor? When you're homeless, you carry your stuff on your back, or it gets stolen. There is nowhere to store it -- with some exceptions (which I'll get to in a minute). When you walk into an interview with a backpack and suitcase, you generally don't get the job. Even a temporary job. Keeping your clothing clean while homeless is a major undertaking, because most of the time you're focused on survival.

The exceptions for storing your stuff?
  • SHARE/WHEEL's Tent Cities (3,4,5); 
  • SHARE/WHEEL's Storage Locker program
  • United We Stand (an encampment);
  • Camp Unity Eastside (another encampment); and 
  • Nickelsville (another encampment). 

There may be others, but I have not heard of them (An interesting side note: All of those are related to SHARE/WHEEL in some way. Not necessarily a friendly way...).

Housing changes the equation. When you're housed, with a locking door: your stuff is a lot safer. When you're housed, and you have a shower available to you, you can keep a lot cleaner. And you can likely obtain employment much easier.

This is why Housing First is such a game-changing policy. Stabilize the housing situation first. Then fix the other problems.

There's an article here about an actual controlled study on Housing First. And an article here about an interview with some details about the man who originated it, and some more information.

4,505 homeless outside in King County

What are we doing to end this crisis?

The opinions expressed in this post are mine. They may not be anyone else's. The Board of Greater Seattle Cares may not agree with this opinion.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

91 deaths of homeless in King County in 2015

The King County Medical Examiner's report on homeless deaths in 2015 can be found here.

There were 91.

6 were homicides. I count 28 that I can link directly to drugs and alcohol (acute toxicity, et cetera). There may be more that can be linked indirectly to drugs and alcohol (for example, why did someone step in front of a vehicle? Why did someone fall onto I-5? et cetera).

6 of them were Native American.
9 were Black.
4 were Asian.
4 were Hispanic.

16 were female.

Washington State is 4% Black, 2% Native American, 13% Hispanic, and 8% Asian -- and about 50% female (statistics from here).

Often, violence against the homeless goes unreported. The Seattle Times has an article about that here.

The homeless live on average about 30 years less than the rest of the population. Sad but true. Drugs, alcohol, and violence are some of the reasons.

Opinions expressed by me might not be the opinion of the Board of Greater Seattle Cares.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mayor Murray to deliver special televised address on homelessness Tuesday Evening on Seattle Channel


Contact:                     Viet Shelton, Mayor’s Office, 206-552-4996
Jason Kelly, Mayor’s Office Press Secretary, 206.684.8379

Mayor Murray to deliver special televised address on homelessness Tuesday Evening on Seattle Channel

WHAT:          Mayor Ed Murray will deliver a special, live address to the residents of Seattle to give an update on the City’s efforts to address homelessness since the State of Emergency was declared on November 2, 2015. The Mayor will be delivering his remarks from Mary’s Place Family Center in North Seattle, which is a shelter for women and families that opened last summer in a City-owned building.


The Mayor’s speech will be aired on Seattle Channel (Channel 21 on Comcast & Wave) and streamed at:

WHEN:          7:30 PM
                        Tuesday, January 26

                                    WHO:             Mayor Ed Murray

WHERE:       Mary’s Place Family Center

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tent City 4 is moving February 6

Tent City 4 is moving to Mary Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Sammamish on February 6, 2016. Moving an encampment is hard. It's the hardest thing SHARE/WHEEL's tent cities do.
They're likely to need some help. I know, it's still a couple of weeks away, but if you can, plan to help.

Tent City 4's phone number is 206-618-3901. SHARE/WHEEL's phone number (ask for Marvin Futrell or Scott Morrow) is 206-448-7889.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Does our help do harm?

Does helping people harm them?

This has been discussed in connection with foreign aid programs, parenting, and helping the poor. Peter Greer of Hope International talks about it with Forbes Magazine in connection with both foreign aid and helping the poor:
The poor helping the poor.
Illustration by Frederic Walker

When you spend time with people who are living in poverty there is a consistent request, and it’s not for more charity, it’s not for more hand-outs. The consistent request is for a job. People in the developing world don’t want to be poor, they don’t want to be someone else’s charity case...
-- Peter Greer of Hope International, in an interview (Forbes Magazine)
Does this apply to the homeless? Does this apply to the people in Tent Cities 3-4-5, United We Stand, and Camp Unity Eastside?

To be honest, it does. I can tell you firsthand -- having been there -- that many homeless would prefer to be self-sufficient and self-supporting. There are also many who would gladly be a "welfare case for life," living on the generosity of others.

The homeless face problems many others do not. For example, a homeless person has to lie to obtain a state identification card in Washington (they have no permanent physical address). They are constantly faced with the inability to get a job simply because of their mailing address, or the lack of a physical address. Or, perhaps, the lack of an identification card they cannot get without committing a mortal sin. So, to some extent, they need help simply to survive. Therefore, help is needed.

Yet I have some questions about how we help:
  • When we give them help, does our help preserve their dignity?
  • Does our help let them participate in the process?
  • Is our help just and fair?
  • Does our help provide them additional options they didn't have before?
  • Does our help let them help themselves more?
And I'm not saying we shouldn't help -- certainly we should help -- but how we do that may matter even more than what we do.

What do you think?

Disclaimer: this post may not express the opinions or beliefs of Greater Seattle Cares. It may not even express my opinions in general.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lloyd Pendleton and Utah’s Homeless Approach

Everett Housing forum hosted Lloyd Pendleton at their November meeting.

He is the architect of the efforts in Utah that housed 98% of their homeless population.

We can learn a lot from their efforts to build positive action and strong teamwork in the over all plans.

Watch the video or download the slide show presentation and share your thoughts.