The One Night Count: A Lesson in Gratitude

This is the second in a sequence of posts spotlighting the experiences and takeaways of some of our One Night Count volunteers. The One Night Count is a snapshot of the number of people who are homeless outside. Overnight Thursday – Friday, January 23-24, hundreds of volunteers from across King County showed up to help with the One Night Count at headquarters in Seattle, Shoreline, Bellevue, Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, White Center, the University District, and Renton. This year, in the wee morning hours from 2-5 a.m. volunteers documented 3,123 people trying to make it through a winter night outside, while shelters were full. While volunteers share the same mission during the Count and a common vision of our community without homelessness, each volunteer has their own unique story. Keep coming back to hear more of their stories. This moving and powerful story was written by Kahla B-K, a first-time counter who is interning at Solid Ground, and was originally posted on Solid Ground’s blog. Kahla has graciously given us permission to re-post it here for you all to read. Here are her words: As we gathered in the wee hours of Friday, January 24 at the Compass Housing Alliance for our initial One Night Count volunteer briefing, I thanked the twinkling stars above it wasn’t raining. Over 800 of us would spread out across King County to search for and count people sleeping outside without shelter. The One Night Count (organized by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness) would be a snapshot of homelessness between the hours of 2 and 5am. As the count began, my team and I quietly weaved our way around the streetlamp-lit areas first, peeking into parked cars and doorways. There was no one in sight. It seemed as if everyone else in the world had vanished. That feeling …

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All Aboard! Act now to support the Reduced Metro Fare.

If you’re an able-bodied 19-64-year-old in King County, a one-way bus trip will set you back $2.25-3.00, depending on peak hours and zones being traveled. A transfer ticket will keep the money for your return-trip in your pocket, but only if you get back on the bus within two hours; otherwise, it’s another $2.25-3.00. While Metro tickets are significantly cheaper than parking, on top of the additional combined cost having and maintaining a car, we at the Coalition know that even a one-way bus ticket is out of reach for many in our community. The Coalition, along with friends and allies at Transportation Choices Coalition, the Seattle Human Services Coalition, Puget Sound Sage, OneAmerica, and the Transit Riders Union, has been a strong voice for a reduced transit fare for people who are low income. Now, we have a real chance to make this happen! See below for what YOU can do to make this a reality!  King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed a reduced Metro fare that incorporates many of our recommendations.  People living up to 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) would be eligible for a reduced fare of $1.50. In King County, nearly a quarter of the population is at or below 200% FPL. Eligibility would last for one year. At this rate, eligible riders could get a monthly ORCA pass with unlimited rides for $54. While we are very pleased to see such a progressive and innovative proposal, we are urging the King County Council to further reduce the fare for people who are working to make ends meet.  There will be a special election this April, to raise revenue to save 600,000 hours of bus service: we are asking King County to use this opportunity to ‘buy down’ the fare to $1.25. Metro …

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How the One Night Count changed my perspective.

Overnight Thursday – Friday, January 23-24, hundreds of volunteers from across King County showed up to help with the One Night Count‘s Street Count of people sleeping without shelter. They started at headquarters from Seattle to Shoreline to Bellevue, Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, White Center, the University District, and Renton. And together, over three hours, they helped us to document 3,123 people who were trying to make it through a winter night outside, while shelters were full. While volunteers share the same mission during the Count and a common vision of our community without homelessness, each volunteer has their own unique story. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting the stories of One Night Count volunteers. This first story is from Rebecca R., who coincidentally shares my first name and last initial! Here are her words: I did not know what to expect going into my first One Night Count. I work with people who are homeless every day in my job at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, but that’s different. For starters, it’s not in the middle of the night. Next, people usually come to me; I don’t seek them out, potentially invading their space and privacy. So I woke up at 1 a.m. Friday morning feeling a strange mix of excitement, nervousness and grogginess. I requested and was placed at the Renton Headquarters. The rest of my team was made up of our Team Captain, two other counters, and me. It was wonderful to connect with other people who work in fields that are different from mine, but that all touch the same populations. We set out right at 2 a.m., all piling into our Team Captain’s car for our first stop. We stopped at stores, parks and underpasses, always searching for sleeping forms or tents. We tried …

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Recap: Coalition’s General Meeting – December 19, 2013

As we were bidding farewell to 2013, Alison and I discussed what we’d like 2014 to look like for the Coalition’s Everyone Counts blog.  One idea that we’re running with is to post a recap after every General Member Meeting. 2013 was a great year for our Coalition, and one we want to build off of in 2014. So, here to ring in this New Year with our new tradition is a Recap of December’s General Member meeting. As a reminder, the General Member Meeting takes place every third Thursday of the month from 9.00 – 11.00 a.m. at the East Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street in Seattle). For more information, check our website’s Members’ tab for a link to the ‘Committees & Meetings’ page, or simply follow this link to take you there directly. Our next General Member Meeting is Thursday, January 16, 2014. __________________ Seattle Final Budget News & Thank You to Mayor Mike McGinn Our friends at the Seattle Human Services Coalition’s handout highlights our HUGE win with the City of Seattle Budget process: an additional investment of $6,891,219! Out-going Mayor Mike McGinn and Jerry DeGrieck, Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor McGinn, came to receive the Coalition’s sincerest Thank You for their leadership and commitment to Seattle residents over the past four years, and also for his strong support of the Coalition’s budget recommendations this past year. Mayor McGinn shared his heartfelt thanks to the Coalition and its members for all of our advocacy, and encouraged us to keep it up. 2014 Legislative Session Preview Robin Zukoski of Columbia Legal Services (CLS) provided background and an overview about the upcoming Legislative Session. Ben Miksch of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) shared with us WLIHA’s 2014 State Legislative Agenda. Carrie Dolwick of Transportation Choices Coalition shared the status of Transportation policy at the …

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It’s time to increase shelter capacity. King County has a good place to start: inside its own Administration Building.

Pass by the King County Administration Building at 4th Avenue at James Street in Seattle on an evening between November and March, and you’ll see a long line of about 50 people. They are waiting to get inside the men’s winter shelter that has, for many years, been hosted inside the building, thanks to funding from King County. The shelter has functioned on the loading dock of the building, in the lobby, and in other space, depending on the arrangements made between the building’s Facilities Management and the shelter provider, currently the Salvation Army. (The history of how this shelter came to be is a good story for another time.) This is a pretty minimalist shelter: no beds, just mats on the floor. There’s access to a bathroom, but no showers. Dinner is not served, and until last year not only did the shelter not open its doors until 9.00 p.m., but men were specifically instructed not to line up before then. (Given that shelter is first come, first served, and that people who spent the night there previously have priority to sleep there the next night, this instruction is impossible to fathom, unless you accept the unspoken logic behind it: homeless people should not be visibly homeless. They should materialize 5 minutes before the shelter doors open, and dematerialize 5 minutes after they exit the building, at 6.00 a.m.) Thanks to modest additional investments from Seattle and King County, and reasonable conversations with stakeholders, including the Coalition, last winter this shelter was expanded to double its capacity, serving 100 men each night. This expanded capacity lasted not only through the winter, but through the spring, and into the first two weeks of June. This unprecedented extension of Winter shelter revealed a simple truth: when decent indoor shelter is offered …

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