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?