Monday, April 25, 2016

Amazon gives Mary's Place a place... for a while.

The Seattle Times ran this story on April 13.

The story: "The tech giant will let Mary’s Place, a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless women and their families, run a shelter housing more than 200 people for a year in a former Travelodge that it bought as part of its downtown Seattle expansion."

Amazon purchased a number of properties downtown as part of its expansion project. Some of these properties aren't scheduled for demolition or construction for years yet, and Amazon is making this one available to Mary's Place for about a year. When the year is over, there's another property right across the street they're planning to let them use for another span of time.

Other businesses have chipped in to help the project.

Read the rest of the story at the Seattle Times.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Give BIG

Greater Seattle Cares is participating in
GiveBIG this year.
On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, Greater Seattle Cares is joining thousands of nonprofits in the Puget Sound area in raising money to help improve our local communities.

Together, we make impact.

What You Can Do

Greater Seattle Cares is a small, all-volunteer organization that assists homeless encampments around Puget Sound by providing material support & advocating for permanent solutions to the epidemic of homelessness in our region. GSC organizes assistance for 3 encampments, assuring food, clothing, & shelter for the residents in the following ways: 
  • Coordinating meal calendars. 
  • Collecting donated clothing and blankets. 
  • Maintaining the camp infrastructure by supplying new tents, pallets, & plywood. 
We base our aid on what the residents themselves say they need. GSC encourages local communities to become involved with the tent cities.

Please give generously and help your neighbors in need.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What’s New with GSC?

The 3 camps we formally support have all recently moved.
Here are their new locations and some of their immediate needs and concerns:

Tent City 3 (TC3) 
University Congregational United Church of Christ
4515 16th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

TC3 is in need of tents, batteries, protein based foods and general beverages.

Camp Unity Eastside 
Blessed Theresa of Calcutta Catholic Church 
17856 NE Woodinville Duvall Rd, Woodinville, WA 98077

 CUE’s current location does not have power so they are in need of propane.

Camp United We Stand (CUWS) 
Haller Lake UMC 
13005 1st Ave NE Seattle WA 98125

UWS is requesting beverages of all types. We will be bringing them some bowls and cups this week. While these are the camps we formally support we also entertain requests from other encampments.

Funding 
Our board has submitted grant requests and hopes to hear back on these soon. We have submitted a grant request to the Fales Foundation to fund replacing tents in TC3, CUE, and UWS. We have also submitted a grant proposal to the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, and we are planning a big push for donations through the Seattle Foundation’s “Give Big” campaign.

MTI Van
The van visited TC3 in both January and February, and our next visit is planned for May 14th.

Communication 
Don’t forget to check out our blogs.

Other Topics of Interest 
We need Facebook support. If you have not already send us a friend request and please like and share our posts.

Here are some ideas the board is considering. These are just thoughts for now, but let us know if any of these items is of particular interest to you. These are just ideas for now.
  • Building a storage shed so we can hold more donations 
  • Helping facilitate micro loans for campers who have ideas for their own businesses 
  • Crowd Funding to support a defined initiative. We sure would love to update or replace the TC3 shower trailer. 

If you would like more detail on any of these topics please contact Info@GreaterSeattleCares.org and we will respond.

Thank you all, and thank you for caring about the camps!

The State of Homelessness in America

The National Alliance to End Homelessness has issued its 2016 report on the State of Homelessness in America.  You can download it here.

Overall, homelessness in America decreased by 2%.

However, the number of people living "doubled up" has increased by 52% since 2007.

The number of people paying more than half their income for rent is up 2.1% nationally. Since 2007, this number has increased 27.7%. It has not decreased with economic recovery; the number has plateaued.

The national decrease in unsheltered homelessness was driven by large decreases in Florida, Texas, and Georgia. Unsheltered homelessness only decreased nationally by about 1800 people (from the graph on page 9 [page 11 of pdf]).

The national rate of homelessness was 17.7 per 10,000 people. Many states were below that, but a few (as well as the District of Columbia) were above (pp. 12-13).
  • Alaska 26.5
  • California 29.8
  • Colorado 18.6
  • Washington, DC 110.8
  • Florida 18.0
  • Hawaii 53.7
  • Maine 17.8
  • Massachusetts 31.3
  • Nevada 30.8
  • New York 44.7
  • Oregon 33.3
  • Vermont 24.3
  • Washington 27.5
The changes in unsheltered homelessness are startling. While nationally the rate decreased by 2.0%, in many states the number of unsheltered homeless rose starkly (map on page 16). Some of the more shocking figures:
  • South Dakota: 147% increase
  • Wyoming: 50% increase
  • Rhode Island: 80% increase
  • Illinois: 60% increase
  • Utah: 45% increase
  • Alaska: 119% increase
Just 18 states reported a decrease in unsheltered homelessness from 2014 to 2015.

The rest of the report is worth reading.

Friday, April 1, 2016

SHARE's troubles, redux

SHARE has established Tent City 6 around the King County Administration Building, in protest of King County's decision not to fund encampments (although they did establish a contract with Bill Kirlin-Hackett to "find hosts" for Tent City 4 in early 2015), as well as not to fund organizations that have anything to do with encampments.

Details are on SHARE's website.

I stopped by there early this afternoon to talk to the people there. There were 2 people sitting at a table (the "front desk"), and they seemed to know what was going on. Evidently things are going well so far. There are some funders who are concerned, and who may assist SHARE in covering its debts.

SHARE's information packet included letters from King County and from the City of Seattle, as well as details about SHARE's current financial situation.

This seems a typical SHARE solution -- a highly visible political protest about political decisions.

About Tents

It occurred to me that King County's objection to tents as shelter is well answered by Judge Thomas J Mahon's statements to the City of Seattle in 2002, during the lawsuit Seattle filed against El Centro de la Raza and SHARE: "Tents are a well-established form of shelter, with a long and distinguished track record extending back at least 4000 years."

Tents are still used as primary shelter in many parts of the world:

Afhganistan

Now, that's a tent city.  Photo by Mubeen Rahman.
And still used by the United States Armed Forces:
Photo by the U.S. Army

As I stated in my last post on this matter, I think King County is clearly in the wrong on this matter.

That said, I agree that Encampments -- Tent Cities -- are not any kind of a solution to homelessness. What they are is a solution for survival while the residents gather resources to re-enter housing. That is their purpose in this time of a crisis in homelessness.

So, what about SHARE?

Many people say that SHARE has mismanaged what money it has. And that's possible. Yet, we can add the numbers, and we can discover that SHARE is correct: they have not been paid for all the things they have done, and they cannot continue to operate in the red. They need some permanent funding sources to the extent of about $10k a month. The spend about $150k on both Tent City 3 and Tent City 4, and they spend about $40k on Tent City 5 (not all costs are covered by the City).

The encampments are paid for entirely by donations. The encampments are necessary for people to survive. Their choices are simple: sleep in the open, or sleep in an encampment. Which is the better choice?

Given the reality of homelessness, what should be our response?

Camp Dearborn receives another eviction

Camp Dearborn is staying at 2314 E Spring St, at Umoja Fest Peace Center.
Yesterday, they and the primary tenant received a notice of eviction. A picture of it is shown (it's posted on the FaceBook page of the External Affairs Coordinator, Troy Morgan.

About Camp Dearborn

I stopped by their camp this afternoon, and they seemed fairly well organized. The camp was peaceful. I introduced myself, and asked a few questions.

So, Camp Dearborn, having split from Nickelsville, is still following somewhat of a Nickelsville model of governance structure, but not the Nickelsville model of governance style.

So, they have an Arbitrator, a Chief of Security, and an External Affairs Coordinator, elected by the camp.

They've decided that their rules are... not set in stone at the moment; they want some flexibility. So they've decided to call their rules "guidelines." So I asked the obvious question: What happens when someone refuses to follow the guidelines?

Their response: we'd bring it to the camp, democratically, and if the person refuses to follow the guidelines, we'd eventually have to kick them out.

So I asked about their needs. They said, "Water."

I could see, neatly stashed in a box, 5 empty gallon-sized water jugs. With about 20 people in camp, the need for water would be a no-brainer.

They probably also need food. I could see a propane grill, and they mentioned their meal calendar was bare. Which we can see after looking at it.

So, in 9 days they have to leave again. The City of Seattle seems to be stuck on repeating the past. This is approximately what happened with Tent City 3 16 years ago. They moved around a lot because the City of Seattle, despite the lip service it pays to "sheltering the homeless," doesn't seem to really like the homeless doing things for themselves.