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.

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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:

Families with Children Committee: Resources Share from the July 23 meeting

Help and support signpostOur Families with Children (FWC) Committee held a Resource Share at their July 23 meeting. Why? Because committee members bring incredible skills, experience, and knowledge to the table each time they meet. Resource shares are a good way to problem-solve and brainstorm, as well as share new (or forgotten) information.

 The Co-chairs asked that each member come to the meeting with something to share to enrich the discussion — specialized resources, handouts, contacts, websites or whatever has been helpful. Here’s what the group came up with this time around…

  1. Child Care Resources (CCR): CCR’s homeless subsidy program to cover all costs of any licensed child care provider, financial assistance program for suburban cities (including Bellevue, Renton, Kent) – these programs are designed to help families who are not eligible for DSHS services.
  2. Additionally, CCR’s information and referral line is helpful for staff and families. Call 1-800-446-1114 to speak with staff who can help families locate licensed childcare providers that meet their specific needs/criteria. They can also do a free search online (click the register button to begin a search if not already a user).
  3. City of Seattle Child Care program – this program does not currently have a waitlist; parents in school (and not working) are eligible; the program will pay for ESL classes; great long-term solution, but program only pays partial cost.
  4. Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) – Families who receive Basic Food Assistance (SNAP) are eligible for this program. It also applies to folks who attend any community or technical college in Washington State, and partners with Farestart and Goodwill programs. Even if the program runs out of money at each quarter, parents can still get assistance with childcare. Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are ineligible for this program.
  5. Public Health – Kids Plus – Kids plus is a program that meets the unique needs of families who are referred by connecting them to a Kids plus case manager who can provide linkages to a variety of services (housing, mental health, physical health, etc. for parents and children). Staff are well connected and highly knowledgeable of available resources and services. The workers meet with families where they are at and have an ongoing relationship with the families. Contact them directly for a referral sheet that you can use to refer your families as needed.
  6. Atlantic Street Center – Atlantic Street Center offers a variety of programs. As part of The Family Center, families in Central and South Seattle can get up to 45 diapers per month per child! In addition:  The Family Center provides a multitude of free classes and services that help nurture, develop and celebrate family life. Activities include parent education classes, instruction for students learning English, preparation for the US citizenship exam, life skills classes, parent support groups for parents of all ages, physical fitness activities, and cultural events and celebrations. The Atlantic Street Family Center also offers a family support worker who counsels and aids families with challenges they may be facing. Families are encouraged to help with planning services so that the activities offered can best meet participants’ needs. Check out the Family Support page for more details.
  7. Wellspring Family Service’s Baby Boutique (requires case manager referral)
  8. Solid Ground’s Legal Assistance program – “Family Assistance provides information and referral, advice and direct legal representation to individuals who have had their state public assistance benefits (e.g., Basic Food/food stamps, Medicaid, ADATSA, TANF, Disability Lifeline) reduced, terminated or denied.”
  9. Parent Trust for Washington Children – Marni Port (Child and Teen Services Manger) is a great resource. Talk to her about child development, and stress management and relaxation training for children, teens, families, and to bring to your programs!
  10. Bellevue LifeSpring – This is a great service for Eastsiders re: rental assistance, food, basic needs, utilities, etc. Call 425.451.1175!
  11. Compass Housing Alliance’s Safe Parking Program (Road to Housing)
  12. DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance – “We provide a range of services to help refugee and immigrant families meet basic needs, find employment, take care of their children and elders, and successfully integrate into their new communities…”
  13. Sophia Latino (Hopelink) created this incredible East King County Financial Assistance List re: financial assistance, eviction prevention, and moving assistance resources.
  14. Rebecca Valderrama (HealthPoint) shared this Dental Resources list re: dental options for adults in King County. As a reminder: even though adult dental access is back in Washington, many people are unaware, or simply (and understandably!) don’t know how access services.
  15. South King County Mobile Medical and Dental Van – August Schedule. Check these good folks’ website to learn more and sign up for their e-mails. “The Mobile Medical program provides basic medical care, dental care, and social services to homeless individuals and families living in south King County. At each site a full free meal is served by the church. The program does not charge a fee and does not require insurance.”
  16. Laura Del Ragno shared a new transitional housing resource for teen parents ages 14-18 3/4 years old. Contact Laura for more info: 206.323.7409, lauradelragno@gdassociation.org
  17. StoryCorps is in town and looking for people to share their stories/experiences of family homelessness.
  18. Register for Best and Promising Practices in Faith-Based Solutions to Ending Family Homelessness – Aug. 20, 4-8 p.m. at Seattle University
  19. The highlight of the Coalition’s July General Membership Meeting was a screening and discussion of American Refugeesa short-film project of Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness and the Gates Foundation. The four animated shorts document the experience of family homelessness, and resiliency, and can be used to encourage people to challenge stereotypes of homelessness, and become more aware of the breadth and depth of this crisis.

The Families with Children committee will not meet in August as the Coalition will be hosting it’s annual Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 training that week. The next committee meeting will be on Wednesday, September 24 from 9:30-11:30 a.m.. See you then at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street, Seattle WA 98144).