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.

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.

 

Who says “we can’t build our way out of homelessness”?

Rachael Myers - WLIHA Headshot

Rachael Myers, Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

Guest blog post by Rachael Myers, Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

We frequently hear the phrase “we can’t build our way out of homelessness.” It’s a talking point that people often use when advocating for important strategies like safe places for homeless folks to camp or rapid rehousing programs. Everyone is making the same, valuable point – given our current resources, we need to address the problem using all the tools we have available.

I know we all agree on that point so let’s start saying that directly. “We can’t build our way out of homelessness” doesn’t accurately convey what we mean and is in fact harmful to our efforts to generate more resources to expand housing for people experiencing homelessness.

A few thoughts about why this is a problem:

The statement assumes that there is a resistance or ignorance among federal, state, and local policy makers regarding housing people experiencing homelessness in ways other than building housing. In fact federal, state, and local policy makers have for years recognized and invested in other methods of getting people housed like Section 8 vouchers, state and local vouchers, or other rapid rehousing efforts.

It is harmful because it singles out one valuable approach to housing people experiencing homelessness as ineffective. If we can’t build our way out of the problem why should we invest in the Housing Trust Fund or tax ourselves for our local housing levy?

The fact is given enough resources we can build our way out of the problem. We could potentially also voucher our way out of the problem, again with enough resources, enough landlords willing to accept people experiencing homelessness, and supportive services for those who need that level of help. We need to do both, and more.

Again, the point we all agree on is that we need to use all the tools we have to make homelessness rare, and when it does happen brief. In January, volunteers with the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness found a 21% increase in people surviving outdoors. In King County there are only 15 affordable homes available for every 100 extremely low-income household. And across the state last year, there were more than 32,000 homeless school kids.

There’s little doubt that we must do everything we can – including building housing  – to solve this crisis. I hope we can all agree to banish this phrase from our talking points!

Reflections on a rousing 2015 Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day!

2015 advocacy express advertizing photo On February 17, 2015, 650 of our closest friends and allies from all across the state of Washington gathered in Olympia at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day to speak up for affordable housing and an end to homelessness.

Driven by an enthusiastic and cheerful bus driver, we headed to Olympia at 7:15 a.m. with 30 Coalition members and friends –  service providers, clients, residents, guests, and others. For some, it was their first time to Olympia and an introduction to advocacy in action. Others were veterans of HHAD. Everyone on the Advocacy Express bus was rearin’ and ready to make a difference, and that they did!

The Coalition’s Advocacy Express bus rolled up right on time to the morning activities, and found inspiration from the first of many speakers that day. Housing Alliance staff, State legislators, and superstar Real Change vendor Pam Russell all spoke how POWERFUL we housing advocates are when we speak up and act together. It’s because of our collective action and advocacy that the Document Recording Fee bill came back from the dead last session, remember!

Our rally at the Capitol steps was a sight to be seen (and heard!). We were inspired by the voices around us. People who have experienced homelessness personally, service providers, representatives from advocacy organizations, students, community members, and people from all walks of life from all over the state were represented as we chanted from the steps through the buildings of the Capitol:

“When they say ‘cutback’ we say fightback!”
“Get up, get down, there’s a housing crisis in this town.”

We were a sea of 650 people wearing red scarves, red shirts, red hats, and many people wore our One Night Count ‘3772’ and Student Homelessness ‘32,494’ buttons. Even as folks dispersed into their legislative district groups, we were unified and unmistakable throughout the halls of the Capitol. Each button and scarf quietly communicated a strong message of solidarity and the importance of these issues.

In addition to the work we do to recruit and transport folks to HHAD, we at the Coalition have the distinct pleasure of also delivering over 1,100 One Night Count advocacy postcards to legislators who represent parts of King County. Hillary and I had great conversations with many Legislative Assistants, some Legislators, and plenty of the helpful staff at the Capitol.

There’s enough energy, passion,and community at HHAD to recharge and reignite our commitment and resolve to take action and make change. Thank you to each and every person who participated! HHAD is but one day a year – and a great day at that – and the other 364 days are just as important. Whatever the method, make sure your legislators hear from you, and hear from you often. Every call, email, letter, and in-person visit throughout the year is what builds and sustains the momentum we need to make positive change in our communities and across our state for people who are homeless and unstably housed.

HHAD 2015 Bus ride home

Thanks for all you do to speak up!

– Hillary and Rebecca

Youth & Young Adults Committee 12/9 recap: Survival Sex Workshop

PSKS LogoLast Tuesday about 50 community members gathered at the Coalition’s Youth & Young Adults Committee (YYAC) monthly meeting to share in a powerful workshop about Survival Sex facilitated Queer Youth Community Organizing Interns TJ Petrik and Jackie Sandberg from PSKS.  (These two participated in the YYAC’s Youth Advocacy Summit this year, and it was great to reconnect!) As a topic that is very prevalent in the lives of many in our community, but not discussed as much as it should be, it was good to share this conversation with service providers, case workers, advocates, and more so everybody could get tips for how to share important information with those they work with.

Some highlighted tips for service providers:
Find full list of tips from TJ and Jackie here

  • Survival Sex can loosely be defined as “needs-based sexual activity” and is often traded for assurance of safety, a place to stay, money, protection, and drugs among other reasons.
  • Needs based sexual activities are very complex and personal, and are especially prevalent among homeless youth and LGBTQ youth.
  • Service providers can and should provide information and resources about sex work while being sensitive to those they are serving.
  • Many people may not be open about sharing so it is important to make sure everyone knows that resources are available by using space in your facility to educate people via fliers, events, and non-derogatory language. It was suggested by many in the room that one approach for intake workers and service providers to share information would be by asking: “Would you or anyone you know like information about resources for those involved in survival sex.”  Asking questions such as this allow space for individuals to access resources without having to disclose personal information.
  • When working with a young person who’s engaged in needs-based sex work, it’s important to discuss risk reduction. For example: If the young person works alone, then discuss what having a buddy system could look like, and what the ups and downs of that would be.

List of Important Resources and Organizations from TJ and Jackie:

These are important conversations to have and we are glad that so many organizations were represented at the meeting to take this information back to their spaces and spread the conversation widely.  If you have any questions or would like to look into the possibility of having a Survival Sex workshop at your organization or continue to be part of the growing educational movement, please email Hillary@homelessinfo.org.

Thanks to everyone who came out and especially thanks to Jackie and TJ for leading such a dynamic and important discussion!

We hope to see you at the January Youth & Young Adults Committee Meeting: Tuesday January 13, 2015, 10:00-11:30 a.m. @ All Pilgrims Christian Church: 509 10th Ave E, Seattle, 98102 (note temporary location change for Jan). 

Severe Weather Shelters around King County UPDATED

Please share information about severe weather shelters with your clients and the community.  Check back for frequent updates about openings. Information can also be found here. 

SEATTLE Severe Weather Shelter

Location: Seattle Center Rainier Room: 305 Harrison Street (next to Key Arena)Map

Date & Time: Wednesday 11/12 & Thursday 11/13: 8:30pm to 7:00am

 Severe Weather Shelter Seattle Flyer Nov 12 & 13, 2014.

In response to forecasted low temperatures, the City of Seattle is opening Severe Weather Shelter at the Seattle Center Rainier Room on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, November 11th, 12th, & 13th.   The emergency shelter serves men and women over the age of 18 and is operated by Salvation Army Staff.  The hours of operation are 8:30pm to 7:00am.  The Rainier Room at the Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street just to the north of Key Arena.  This shelter is open access.  Referral forms are NOT required.

AUBURN: Overnight Shelter confirmed open Wed 11/12 & Thurs 11/13

Until power is restored, the following Warming Centers and Shelters will be in place:

  • Overnight Severe Weather Shelter: Les Gove Multipurpose Building: 1024 Deals Way Map (between Auburn Senior Activity Center and Auburn Library)- 8 PM – 7 AM; Phone: (253) 876 – 1925
  • Warming Center: Auburn Senior Center: 808 9th Street SE – 8 AM to 9 PM
  • Warming Center: Auburn City Hall: 25 W Main Street – 8 AM to 6 PM

FEDERAL WAY: New Hope Christian Fellowship

Location: 31411 6th Ave S, Federal Way, WA, 98003 Map
Phone: (253) 269 – 6585                                                                                                  

Date & Time: 4pm-8am, open until further notice

RENTON Cold Weather Shelter

Location: Renton Harambee Center: 316 South 3rd St, Renton, 98057 Map              Phone: 425-430-6600                                                                                                       

Date & Time: Wednesday 11/12: 8:30pm – 8am

Print and share this flyer: Renton Cold Weather Shelter 11.12.2014

The City Renton is partnering with Catholic Community Services to open the Severe Weather Shelter (SWS) at Renton Harambee Center, due to dangerously low temperatures.This Severe Weather Shelter will be open TONIGHT, Wednesday November 12th. 8:30PM – check in and registration, 8AM – shelter closes, all must vacate.  All are welcome. The SWS is available for single women and men, couples, and homeless families with children who are living on the streets or in vehicles; separate sleeping spaces have been prepared for men, women, and for families with children. The SWS will be operated by Catholic Community Services staff and volunteers from the greater Renton community. All must register at the door. As with all shelters, rules for the health and safety of clients, staff and the broader community will apply. For more information please contact the City of Renton, Human Services office at 425-430-6600.