Event: Film Screening and Discussion to Address Problems Related to Injecting Drugs in Public Places and Opportunities for Preventing Overdose Deaths

Join us for a public screening of Everywhere But Safe: Public Injecting in New York. To be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and public health experts.Panelists will discuss drug user health and the role of safe injection sites and other interventions in improving public health and community safety. Read more about the event in this Press Release.

WHEN: November 13th, Doors 6pm – Screening 7pm
WHERE: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
TICKETS: FREE – Suggested Price: $5
INFO: www.townhallseattle.org
Facebook Event

The event is co-sponsored by the Public Defender Association, VOCAL-WA, ACLU of Washington, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, University of Washington, Hepatitis Education Project, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, Urban Survivors’ Union, Real Change, and the Capitol Hill Community Council. Speaking at the event will be filmmakers Matt Curtis, MPH and Taeko Frost, MPH, as well Eric Seitz a street outreach public health nurse; Chloe Gale, MSW (REACH); Caleb Banta-Green, PhD (Senior Research Scientist at the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute as well as an Affiliate Associate Professor at the School of Public Health, University of Washington); Vivek Chaudhary (long time officer of the Urban Survivors Union, Seattle’s longest standing drug user union); and Shilo Murphy (co-founder and executive director of the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance). The event is open to the public and panelists will be available to speak to the media both before and after.

2015 1113 Safe Injection Screening Ad -- final-page-001

Event Announcement: The New York Experience with Rent Regulations (10/15)

Posted with permission from the Tenants Union of Washington State and Timothy Collins

The New York Experience with Rent Regulations
Timothy L. Collins – former Exec. Director, New York City Rent Guidelines Board

timothyOctober 15, 2015 – 7:30 pm
Tenants Union of Washington State, 5425 B Rainier Ave, Seattle, WA 98118

The Tenants Union of Washington State has invited Timothy L. Collins to talk about how rent regulations have worked in New York City.

Mr. Collins was Executive Director and Counsel of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board for seven years, managing a research and administrative staff for a board that sets rents for one million housing units in New York City. He has an unmatched grasp of the on-the-ground realities – economic, political, social and legal – of New York City and state rental housing and efforts to keep it affordable.

Mr. Collins also served as Assistant Attorney General of New York State in the Real Estate Finance Bureau, and as Assistant Counsel in the New York City Office of Rent and Housing Maintenance. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Collins, Dobkin and Miller LLP in New York City, and teaches constitutional history at Pace University there.

Mr. Collins will address both the controversies around rent regulation and the question of home rule for cities on housing issues.

For more details, see Mr. Collins paper: “Rent Regulation in New York: Myths and Facts” – http://www.seattle.gov/council/licata/attachments/Rent-Regulation-in-New-York-Myths-and-Facts.pdf

For more information: Tenants Union of Washington State, 206-722-6848, tenantsunion.org. Peter Costantini, jpetercostantini@comcast.net, 206-290-0219.

Recap: General Meeting and Street Drugs 101 Case Manager Training – June 18,2015

Taking Action at the General Meeting
TAKING ACTION at the General Meeting — making calls to our lawmakers!

What a meeting!  Among the friendly faces were representatives from SHARE, YWCA, Plymouth Housing Group, Housing Development Consortium, Child Care Resources, Compass Housing Alliance, Housing Justice Project, Hopelink, REACH/Evergreen Treatment Services, North Helpline, Catholic Community Services, Recovery Cafe, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Jewish Family Services, Aridell Mitchell Home (Goodwill Development Association), Washington Family Counseling Service, ROOTS, YouthCare, El Centro de la Raza, Multi-Service Center, Year Up, and 2-1-1.

Following the General Meeting, representatives from even more organizations and community members joined us for our Street Drugs 101 + Naloxone + Related Laws training.

Both were informative meetings – Here’s a brief recap . . . 
[Psssst! Don’t miss out in the future — add our General Meeting dates to your calendar.]


June 18, 2015 General Membership Meeting Report-back

Smoking Ban update – On Thursday, May 28, the Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously (8-0) to pass a smoking ban in Seattle Parks. This ban will take effect 30 days after the vote, likely beginning in July. While this is still a disappointing outcome, it’s important to remember the impact of our collective action. By speaking up with many community members and organizations, we were able to influence the removal of the $27 citation, ensure a “Right to Dispute” be made available, and see to it that there is oversight of enforcement. An emphasis of education is also a feature of this policy. Read the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s release about the new smoking ban. 

Now, we all have continued work to do to ensure that what is “in writing” is put into action, and that whatever plays out is brought to light. This means we need you, your colleagues, your friends and family, and, certainly, the people you serve who are (likely) most impacted by this policy to keep us informed about how the implementation and enactment of this policy plays out! Remember: the relationships we’ve formed with folks at Seattle Parks is part of the reason our advocacy is effective. When you speak up, people listen! Keep us informed by calling 206.204.8350 or by emailing us at speakup@homelessinfo.org. 

Coalition Updates —
The voter registration deadline for the August 4th primary is Monday, July 6! 
Help people you work with register to vote and make sure that your/their registration is current (download our flyer below). While it may not be a presidential election year, this year’s elections are very important because half of the King County Council and all nine of the Seattle City Council are up for reelection! These are the people who most directly affect our daily lives in Seattle and King County and since Seattle is re-districting, it’s a big year and important for everyone who is eligible to vote. Use our Homeless Voters’ Information guide to guide the process – the information about registering applicable, though the dates are for the last election. Visit our blog for more details and tips.

Download: FLYER about Registering to Vote in time for the Primary Election (print 2-sided on the long edge, then cut in half)

Project Cool for Back-to-School is well underway!

  • Volunteer Days will be Monday, July 13 – Sunday, July 19 with additional shifts on Monday and Tuesday, July 20 & 21 for backpack pickup and inventory of remaining supplies. Sign-up today through homelessinfo.org!
  • Interested in hosting a back-to-school supply drive? Contact hillary@homelessinfo.org!
  • Share the love and spread the word about Project Cool! The Pastor Darla DeFrance at the Church of Hope, where the Project Cool magic happens, posted information to Columbia City groups and a number of people signed up to volunteer!  Do you have an e-list or group that would love to hear about Project Cool? Feel free to loop them into the Project Cool magic!

Best Starts for Kids — We support this proposal as it will help ensure that children are healthy, safe, housed, and ready to learn. Click here to learn more about Best Starts for Kids (factsheet). King County Councilmembers need to vote yes to put the levy, as is, on the November Ballot. They need to hear from you NOW! TAKE ACTION: KC Alliance for Human Services call to action: http://kingcountyalliance.com/mobilize-the-time-is-right-now/

Legislative Special Session #2: The Good/Bad/Ugly/Take — Folks, there is a real possibility of a state government shutdown. Why? Because there’s an important hold out — for a fairer budget that prioritizes housing and basic needs. Here are some call-outs:

  • At least $80 million for HTF, $100 million for affordable housing
  • HB 2263 will allow local communities to raise the funds necessary to help create more affordable homes and maintain valuable mental health services.
  • Restore cuts to families receiving TANF benefits. I urge you to make sure that the final budget restores at least 9% of the 15% cut from TANF grants, and fully funds State Food Assistance.
  • Support our 2-1-1/ WA Telephone Assistance Program / Community Voicemail systems. Please make sure $1M in funding for 2-1-1 is included in the final budget.

Just as we did at the meeting, we encourage you to TAKE ACTION and contact your lawmakers, the Governor, and Sen. Andy Hill to share your support. Use (and spread!) this TAKE ACTION FLYER to send this important message to the folks who impact these last days of the 2nd Special Session the most. (To print: print two to one page by using “printer properties”.)


 

June 18, 2015 Street Drugs 101 + Naloxone + Related Laws Training

Presenter Kris Nyrop teaches a packed room about trends in Street Drugs
Presenter Kris Nyrop teaches us about trends in Street Drugs

Presenters Kris Nyrop (Defenders Association) and Mark Cooke (ACLU) led us through some pretty murky and at times complicated territory. Here are some highlights:

  • The United States leads the world in opiate use. We may just be 5% of the world’s population, but we responsible for over 90% of all opiate consumption.
  • Trends (over time) in drug use are very cyclic, and we’re currently in the midst of an amazingly high period of opiate overdose.
  • There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment. Drugs don’t effect everyone in the same way, though there are behavioral trends for certain types of drugs.
  • Naloxone (Narcan) will stop an opioid overdose in its tracks for 30-90 minutes, which gives enough time to keep someone breathing and to be transported to the ER. Naloxone is NOT addictive – it only serves one purpose: to stop overdose. It’s literally saving people’s lives and allowing them the option to work towards recovery. To get information, training, policy implementation materials, etc, about Naloxone. visit our locally-based friends and experts at StopOverdose.org. Are you a University District local? Contact Joe Tinsley at the Needle Exchange (joe.tinsley@kingcounty.gov; 206-477-8275)
  • Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone Bill — A person acting in good faith may receive a Naloxone prescription, possess, and administer Naloxone. Anyone who seeks medical assistance for themselves or on someone’s behalf cannot then be arrested for being under the influence of or having small amounts of illegal substances on their person. However, they can be arrested if they have outstanding warrants, or if they have what appears to be (or is) a commercial operation of producing or selling drugs (for example: lots of plastic baggies, scales, substances). There is grey area because neither the Good Samaritan Law or the Naloxone law have yet to come up in a court case; boundaries have not (yet) been tested.

Missed the meeting? Here’s a copy of Kris’s Street Drugs 101 presentation for you to download and share.

An important part of the training was the group discussion of how organizations have integrated – partially or fully – Naloxone into their work place. The range of experience was great, and still many staff said their organizations had yet to tackle Naloxone use/training, or had much to improve upon. For example, one organization said staff were trained but few knew where the Naloxone kit was actually kept.
Questions to bring back to your organization include:

  1. Do we have a Naloxone Policy? If not, let’s set that up!
  2. Are staff regularly trained? If not, let’s set that up!
  3. Can staff possess Naloxone, even if it’s their own personal prescription?
  4. Do all staff, interns, volunteers, program participants know who has Naloxone training? Have we communicated this clearly in other, visible ways (e.g., signs)?
  5. Have we trained all staff, interns, volunteers, program participants on Naloxone use?
  6. Does everyone know where the Naloxone is located? Is there always a person in the room who has access to it throughout hours of operation?
  7. Are the people who have access to Naloxone the people that program participants go to in case of an emergency?
  8. Have we made it clear that Naloxone is accessible at our site? How can we create an environment that says, “You can come to us for help! We’ve got your back.”

 

 

Recap: Coalition’s Youth & Young Adults Committee Meeting — June 9, 2015

Hepatitis Education Project LogoOn Tuesday the Youth & Young Adults Committee received training on Hepatitis (HCV) from Chelsea Amato with the Hepatitis Education Project. Besides delivering an incredibly informative training, Chelsea’s given us access to her entire presentation plus additional resources. Best of all, the good folks at Hepatitis Education project are always open to do workshops and testing for agency staff and/or our youth participants — do not hesitate to reach out and continue these conversations back at your respective agencies.

*Hepatitis Education Project hosts an evening Monthly Meet-Up (support group) every 1st Thursday of the month. If you’d like to receive email updates about the Meet-Up and any other events, be sure to contact Chelsea (chamato@hepeducation.org;  206-732-0311). She and her colleagues are happy to answer questions, take your referrals, provide testing and training at your agencies.

To reach Chelsea and the Hepatitis Education Project Crew:
Chelsea L. Amato, BSW
HEP Advocate and Educator
911 Western Ave.  #302  ● Seattle, WA 98104 ● 206-732-0311 ● 206-732-0312 (fax)
www.hepeducation.org ● www.hcvinprison.org ● Find us on Facebook!


Join us next month on July 14 for a training on Naloxone, and to dig into 2015 Homeless Youth Advocacy Summit preparations. See you then!

Recap: Coalition’s General Membership Meeting — May 21, 2015

General Membership MeetingYou packed the room at our May 21 General Membership Meeting. Among the friendly faces were folks from Farestart, Sound Mental Health, Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, Harborview, City of Redmond, Housing Development Consortium, Hopelink, 2-1-1, Solid Ground, Seattle Community Law Center, Compass Housing Alliance, ROOTS, Catholic Community Services – Aloha Inn, Jewish Family Services, YearUp, Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness, Real Change, Global to Local, City of Seattle Human Services Department, Seattle Parks Department, resident of Pioneer Square, UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry, 45th Street Youth Clinic (Neighborcare), Low Income Housing Institute, REACH, UW Law School, YWCA Landlord Liaison Project. This broad representation from our member organizations and community as a whole helped facilitate important, timely dialogue with Seattle Human Services Department Director and Deputy Director as well as Acting Parks Superintendent.

Here’s a brief recap . . . 
[Psssst! Don’t miss out in the future — add our General Meeting dates to your calendar.]

I. Discussion with Director Catherine Lester & Deputy Directors Heidi Albritton
Catherine stared by sharing her background, starting at age 4, to help us understand her motivations, perspective, and reasons why she does what she does. She has five over-arching focuses/goals for HSD:

  1. Results. Generate results that are measurable, and that increase equity and decrease disparity. Measures vary, and need to be properly applied (e.g., quality vs performance vs outcome).
  2. Public Stewardship. HSD has had audit findings each year for the last four years. This isn’t good for many reasons, two of which are: 1) calls the question about whether HSD can do the job, and 2) risks money that flows to providers.
  3. Preferred Employer. Create a working environment that is positive and productive. This absolutely includes ensuring that providers have better, positive experiences working with HSD staff.
  4. Innovation.(Let’s continue to honor innovations that already exist.) Spoke specifically towards “regionalism.” While this means different things to different people, Catherine wants to get a clear working definition that places Seattle as a part of a whole, and recognize that many other cities look to Seattle for their next steps. What we do matters to more than just Seattle because Seattle is a Regional City.
  5. Prepare for Future Differently. Capacity gaps both within our provider network and within provider agencies exist and those must be addressed to move forward effectively. Capacity gaps include, but are not limited to: data and evaluation, fiscal, employee.

II. City of Seattle’s Homelessness Investments and HSD plans going forward
[Link to Homelessness Investment Analysis]

  • Aimed to be City of Seattle-specific context setting to benefit Mayor Murray’s understanding of his department. The City of Seattle has ~$40 million annual investment in homelessness programs, and yet we still witness, each year, an uptick of people in need. Here’s what’s on the table to address:
    • Service Models: intervention, prevention
    • Funder issues: “I wish these funders would get their stuff together” is a common, known sentiment among providers.
    • Efficiency in how HSD contracts: 550 contracts with 200 unique organizations is not healthy nor sustainable. Must get a handle on this.
    • Data and Evaluation Capacity: HSD needs to allow organizations to make use of the data they submit, and HSD needs to make visible how data is used
  • Other mentionable points of discussion: 1) evaluate and, when appropriate, scale pilots, and 2) system readiness and capacity, both within HSD system and in our community (of providers)
  • Highlights from open Q&A: Pilot time frame; existing metrics that concern HSD; gaps in provider network; Safe Harbors (tabled this discussion); Outcomes, especially for shelters; coordinated entry systems; Partnership among HSD and providers re: planning; Quality of service – trainings for people from a variety of different backgrounds (i.e. someone with a record might not have the education we typically say is required for a job, but has the experience – provide training in such situations to make sure people’s potentials are being reached & experience is brought in).

III. Being Homeless in Public: Implications of the proposed Seattle Parks Smoking Ban 

  • Facilitation convo w/ remarks from Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams and Susanne Rockwell
  • Overwhelming response regarding impacts of the proposed Seattle Parks smoking ban. In response, Parks will:
    1. Eliminate citation ($27)
    2. Create citizen advisory committee (approx. 5 people), whose purpose is to monitor enforcement data more regularly (e.g., every 90 days)
    3. Create a quasi-appeals process (e.g., “right to dispute”)
    4. Partner with Seattle/King County Public Health to connect folks with education about smoking and cessation programs.
  • Superintendent Williams stressed that the smoking ban will not result in the banning people from parks, which is in line with, and reinforces, changes to Parks policy in 2012. One could, after many warnings and couple with more egregious behaviors, be arrested; however, said person would never be banned from the park. Williams mentioned that he doesn’t think they will see people being arrested after 2 warnings because they will feel peer pressure to not smoke. Also mentioned Parks needs to educate about where people can smoke (sidewalks/public domain).
  • Principle surrounding the ban of smoking is similar to the ban on public consumption of alcohol and amplified sound.
  • Final vote will happen at May 28 Parks Commissioner meeting. Public comment will not be heard at this meeting, but all are welcome to attend (and submit written comment!). This vote is a recommendation to the Mayor to pass or not pass ban – then a letter is sent to the City Clerk and there is a 30 day pause on implementation.
  • Highlights from open Q&A: Exclusions Vape Pens and E-Cigs; Existing 25-foot rule; Discussion of Seattle Police Department enforcement and training; How citations would work; Success in other cities? Boulder, Colorado did this and it’s not going well; If we see a disproportionate effect on people who are homeless and unstable housed, then what’s next to fix?

IV. Good/Bad/Ugly/Take Action Updates: Olympia and (Seattle) Linkage Fee
Legislative Updates . . . Robin Zukoski, Columbia Legal Services

  • There is a different dynamic in Olympia this year, and that’s a good thing. True, we still have much advocacy work to do to build stronger programs over the coming years, and to ensure that the final compromise budget is a stronger one.
  • HEN/ABD – no proposed cuts this year, and that’s a win (even if it doesn’t quite feel that way). However, you need to contact your legislators and Department of Commerce to tell them the importance of HEN and the ways in which it needs to be strengthened in order to serve more people and serve all people better. And be sure to stay tuned because there’s concern that Legislators may try to fund other programs by gutting HEN/ABD. We’ll be sure to alert you as soon as Robin sends us the word to take action.
  • TANF is not faring well, and needs our advocacy to ensure that final budget compromise increases supports for TANF and the families and children who benefit.
  • WTAP/Community Voicemail, 2-1-1 Funding: good advocacy campaigns are in motion. Continue to send Legislators your cards, letters, and love notes about the importance of this program. They simply don’t understand it’s value and that people depend upon it.
  • Homeless Students Stability Act is still in play this special session. Everyone agrees on the concept, but many disagree on the money component. Stay tuned for a TAKE ACTION alert.
  • Housing Trust Fund: $80M is our target number at this point, but it’s not a done deal. Stay tuned for a TAKE ACTION alert.
  • This was a GREAT year for Youth-specific issues. See Coalition’s blog posts about the big wins.

Linkage Fee Updates . . . Kayla Schott-Bresler, Housing Development Consortium

  • Learn more and sign the petition at growingtogetherseattle.org.
    1. “Seattle is growing rapidly. Despite our work towards building a great city, the benefits of major growth and investment are not shared by everyone. We must act soon to keep modest-wage workers and their families from being forced to move away from our vibrant city because housing costs are too high.”
    2. “An affordable housing linkage fee is a tool that can help Seattle remain a place for people of all incomes to prosper in place. A linkage fee is a per square foot fee on new development to mitigate the increased demand for affordable housing caused by that development. It’s time to follow in the footsteps of cities across the country and adopt a strong affordable housing linkage fee program.”

V. Coalition Updates w/ Staff

  • Project Cool 2015- it’s here – get involved to support students who are homeless! For more info, contact Hillary@homelessinfo.org
  • ORCA LIFT – What’s working? What isn’t? What improvements do you recommend? What ideas do you have to get more people signed up? What would make the sign-up process easier? We’re working on all of these issues, and will be submitting the Coalition’s recommendations to Metro and the City of Seattle shortly. Stay tuned!
  • Report back from the 25th Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness – We want to hear from you about your three favorite workshops! Send rebecca@homelessinfo.org your response.

 

Join us next month for our joint General Membership (open meeting) and Case Manager Training (RSVP required). Topic: Street Drugs 101 + Good Samaritan Laws + Naloxone. Mark your calendars – June 18 from 9.00-12.30 a.m. at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street, Seattle, WA 98144). 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Seattle’s proposed smoking ban in public parks is misguided.

I love parks. I intensely dislike cigarette smoke and litter.  I spent more than ten years working at the Public Health Department of Seattle & King County. Why would I not be delighted to see Seattle consider a universal ban on smoking in public parks?

Simply because the longer I work for the Coalition on Homelessness, the more allergic I become to public policies that create problems rather than resolve them.  The proposed ban on smoking in public parks in Seattle may not be intended to create another tool for law enforcement and parks department staff to use in urging people who are considered undesirable out of public spaces, but that will surely be the impact.

This ban is in line with a growing (and concerning) theme of public space use. Camping in a public park or under a bridge or roadway is illegal. Sleeping on a Metro bus is against the Code of Conduct. And yet, thousands of people resort to both of these life-sustaining activities every night in our community, and across Washington and the United States.

As Anatole France famously wrote, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.”

These nuns (below) would likely not be threatened with a fine or trespassed from the park. Spokespersons for the Seattle Parks and the Seattle Police have said that they do not intend to put significant resources into enforcing the proposed ban — and acknowledge that they have “relied on verbal requests and volunteer compliance” to enforce the current 25′ rule.

Maybe they could pass this ban and it would just be another rule that barely changes the way in which most people use our public parks.

But these kinds of laws can and are often used to target people who are homeless or poor. Current rules require a reasonable 25′ between a smoker and another person enjoying the park. That seems to work fine. The Parks Commission wants community feedback:

Smoking nuns.
Smoking nuns.

The Board of Park Commissioners will host a special public hearing on Thursday, April 16, to take comments on a proposed parks-wide smoking ban.  The Board of Park Commissioners public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Kenneth R. Bounds Board Room at Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters, 100 Dexter Ave. N.

So, what can you do?

  • Answer the Seattle Parks Survey: Yes or no, as a person who spends time in Seattle’s parks, do you support a complete ban on smoking in parks?
  • Submit your written comments about the proposed universal ban in public parks before May 7 to Rachel.acosta@seattle.gov. Written comments carry equal weight to oral comments.  You can also mail comments to: Seattle Parks & Recreation, Attn: Rachael Acosta, 100 Dexter AV N Seattle, WA 98109
  • Sign Real Change’s petition to Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle City Councilmember Jean Godden, Board of Parks Commissioner Rachel Acosta, and Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams
  • We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please drop us a note (speakup {at} homelessinfo.org) or share an observation on our Facebook page.

The following are some of the letters/statements submitted to the Board of Park Commissioners urging them to reject the proposed smoking ban:

  • ACLU letter to Board of Park Commissioners
  • Seattle Human Rights Commission letter to Board of Park Commissioners
  • Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness letter to Board of Park Commissioners
  • IAC Statement on Seattle Parks Proposed Smoking Ban:  The IAC is concerned about the potential disproportionate impact of the proposed ban of smoking in Seattle Parks on people experiencing homelessness. The cumulative effect of smoking bans indoors and in public spaces leaves people experiencing homelessness with no place to legally smoke.

Plus, some more information:

In Support of Organized Tent Camp Ordinance by City of Seattle

The following comments, written by Alison Eisinger, Director of the Coalition on Homelessness, were shared at the Seattle City Council Meeting on Monday, March 30, 2015 in support of CB 118310, an Ordinance to permit transitional tent camps for homeless individuals as an interim use on City-owned or private property.  Hillary Coleman, Social Justice Intern at the Coalition, read Alison’s remarks as Alison was out of town at a conference.  We are glad to say that the ordinance passed unanimously!  We also supported an amendment by Councilmember Sawant to review permitting camps in residential zones which passed as well!  Thank you City Council, let’s keep working together to provide more shelter and housing options for our community. 

View testimony from many Coalition friends here.  Hillary reads Alison’s remarks at 45:40. 


Thank you for taking up Mayor Murray’s version of CM Licata’s original proposal to create more opportunities for organized tent camps in Seattle. The Coalition strongly supports passage of this proposed legislation. We also support the amendments that would address the fact that homelessness is not confined to specific neighborhoods, cities, or communities, and the solutions to homelessness — both interim and permanent — must not be restricted geographically either.
People who are without basic shelter in our community are currently living in all kinds of neighborhoods. When 1100 volunteers counted 3.772 people outside during this year’s One Night Count, they counted people in Queen Anne, Ballard, SoDo, Lake City Way, Georgetown, and Ravenna.  They also counted people in Renton, in Kent, Kirkland, ,Kenmore, Vashon Island, Bellevue, Redmond, and Des Moines.
In considering making additional city-owned property available for organized tent camps, the council should not seek to limit which neighborhoods they can occur in. Our city policy should reflect our values: people who are homeless should be living in residential neighborhoods- that is the point, isn’t it, to include and recognize people rather than literally marginalize them and make their lives more difficult.
Excluding residential neighborhoods in Seattle from consideration is an awkward and arbitrary attempt that is not supported by the evidence of more than ten years, and the personal experiences of thousands of people, both housed and homeless.  And, consider this: doing so sets a bad precedent. Seattle electeds say they want to see more, not more restrictive, demonstration of willingness to respond constructively to homelessness in municipalities across our region. What will you say to elected officials in Issaquah or Snoqualmie or Burien or Shoreline who agree to host tent cities or site shelters or services in theory, but who say that they just cannot identify suitable property that is not in a residential neighborhood?
Finally, we applaud this significant step in the right direction, even as we urge the Council and the Mayor to make good on the Mayor’s commitment following the Unsheltered Task Force to add 150 year-round shelter beds, providing indoor safety and stability. And, as we all turn attention towards renewal of the Seattle Housing Levy, let’s remember that our city has a robust responsibility to fund housing for people who are homeless.

Opening doors to the Conference on Ending Homelessness: the Coalition’s Scholarships for people who are homeless!

The air was warm and the sun was already out the morning we rolled into the Yakima Convention Center parking lot for the first day of the 2014 Conference on Ending Homelessness. Tracey with his sweet service pup, Jennifer, and I got out of my car and gave a big stretch after the two and a half hour drive from Seattle to Yakima, Washington, a beautiful drive indeed. On our drive over the mountains, we bonded over this being each of our first attending the statewide conference, and also found common ground over interest in workshops. Maybe it was the blood flowing back freely to our limbs, but we each felt a buzz and energy as we walked across the warm cement parking lot into a sea of fellow advocates and champions of housing and homelessness from around the state of Washington. We’d exchanged contact information, made check-in plans, and off we went into this new, exciting experience!

2014 Scholarship Recipient Susan speaking at 2015 Gong Ringing in Olympia
2014 Scholarship Recipient Susan speaking at 2015 Gong Ringing in Olympia

Staff from organizations who are plugged into the Coalition told Tracey, Jennifer, and Susan – our 2014 scholarship Recipients – about the conference and the Coalition’s full scholarships for people who are currently homeless. Last year, ten people applied for our two scholarships. Luckily, we were able to stretch the Coalition’s Scholarship Fund to provide two full and one partial scholarships.

 

Neatly packed into those three sentences are some important messages that I’d like to tease out:

  • People who are homeless must be involved in the conversations and work to end homelessness — that includes conferences such as this one!
  • It’s important to ensure access to opportunities like the Conference on Ending Homelessness, and in doing so, address the many barriers that prevent people from being able to participate. That’s exactly why we provide a FULL scholarship: travel, accommodations, meals, registration, supplies, and person-to-person support (as much or as little is desired).
  • Our member organizations do incredible work day in and day out to support not just their organization’s mission and the mission of the Coalition, but also the people they serve. They spread the word about the Coalition’s Scholarships and support their clients, residents, and guests by helping them apply and prepare for the conference!
  • The interest and need for these scholarships is obvious, and greater than the Coalition can currently meet.
  • Membership dues and YOUR financial support allow us to continue and grow to meet the need. Donate today to create opportunities for people who are homeless to participate in the Conference on Ending Homelessness! (Want streeeeettttcchhh your gift even farther? Maker your donation on Tuesday, May 6 during #GiveBig!)

rally on capitol building steps

After the conference, as I drove to the local Greyhound bus stop, we spoke about our experiences at the conference: our favorite presenters, the best workshop, the people we met, and how nice it was to have a big, soft bed with  ultra clean sheets.  Will you remember to send me those membership papers? I want to join the Coalition! I loved this – I learned so much, and got some business cards. That guy said he wants to help me. I hope I remember to get off the bus in Seattle — I’m so  tired!  Yes, sleepy we all were after two days of constant interaction and learning, but Tracey, Susan, and Jennifer had an energized spirit about them — they were inspired and felt a connection to the people in the room, all aiming to achieve the same mission: to see an end to homelessness in our communities.

Everything about this conference and those who attend inspires and energizes me. That is why I am excited to report that we recently put out our initial call for applicants for the 2015 Conference on Ending Homelessness, this year in Tacoma, WA! (And we already received our first applicant – hooray!) Those who apply know that this particular opportunity is important and all too rare. Whether by conference or one of the Coalition’s many other advocacy actions, together we will work collaboratively to ensure safety and survival for people who are homeless, and to end the crisis of homelessness in our region.

Join us.

 

Two opportunities to make sure the voices of our homeless and low income community are heard: Tent Cities & Transportation in Seattle.

Share your thoughts and input about Transportation Levy to MOVE SEATTLE!

Last week, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray introduced Move Seattle, his ten-year transportation vision that integrates our plans for transit, walking, biking, and freight.  We encourage you to check out the information on the proposal, take this online survey, and attend one of three community conversations to share your input.

  • Saturday, March 28, 10am – 12pm at New Holly Gathering Hall: 7054 32nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118
  • Monday, March 30, 6pm – 8pm at Roosevelt High School: 1410 NE 66th St, Seattle, WA 98115
  • Tuesday, March 31, 6pm – 8pm at West Seattle High School: 3000 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

Read all about the proposed levy and stay up to date here.


Seattle City Council to vote on Homeless Tent City Ordinance on Monday, March 30. 

A zoning ordinance to permit transitional tent cities for individuals experiencing homelessness on Seattle City-owned or private property was recently passed out of the Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Committee and will come to vote by the Full Seattle City Council this Monday, March 30 at 2.00 p.m. (This proposal is based on Councilmember Nick Licata’s original legislation from two years ago, which we helped develop, and has been reworked  by Mayor Ed Murray as a result of the recommendations of the Unsheltered Homelessness Task Force this year.)

The Coalition supports safety for people who are homeless outside, including organized tent cities, and calls on all members of the Seattle City Council to vote yes and pass the proposed ordinance.  Along with our members, we will be present at the City Council meeting to share our collective voice on this important issue. We will also remind City Council members that they must work with Mayor Murray to ensure that he keeps his commitment to increase the capacity of our city’s indoor shelter network by at least 150 year-round indoor beds, using city-owned property.

Read proposed legislation here.  (We support the proposed amendments to permit organized tent cities on college and university campuses, and to include all appropriate potential sites, including residential areas).

Please join us on Monday, March 30 at 2pm: Seattle City Hall (600 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104).  Attend if you can, or e-mail ALL nine City Councilmembers to let them know what you think.  Emails for councilmembers can be found here.