by Gordon Mchenry, Jr.
The results of the 2020 Point-in-Time Count demonstrate what we already know — that we must accelerate our approach to how we fight homelessness. The latest data reflect what we sense and see: despite all of our efforts, the number of people who are experiencing homelessness has remained too high, with only slight variations from year to year. Far too many of our neighbors are suffering from the trauma of homelessness, housing instability, the pandemic, and inequities rooted in race and ethnicity.
This latest count found an increase of about 5% more people experiencing homelessness over 2019 — and the survey took place before the coronavirus pandemic caused the economic disruption that led to widespread loss of income. We are especially concerned about the growth in family and chronic homelessness. And we recognize that we have yet to see the result the recession has had on our most vulnerable community members.
Continue reading OPINION: Point in Time Count, 2020 Version: More of the Same. We Need Change
by Carolyn Bick
The wind catches Dee Powers’ short, wavy hair as they lean out of the window of the mobile home they share with their partner. Squinting in the sun, Powers banters with Daniel Ojalvo, who has come to drop off jugs of bleach and other supplies that Powers will divide into small amounts for distribution among the homeless community.
Both Ojalvo and Powers are part of the homeless mutual aid network, a grassroots effort that formed to serve the homeless community during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The community often doesn’t have access to regular sanitation or food in normal times, and has even less access now as the pandemic sweeps across the world. Much of the regular homelessness outreach has dried up, since it’s more difficult to do outreach safely these days. That’s where the mutual aid network, in partnership with existing nonprofits and other community organizers, comes in.
Continue reading Grassroots Mutual Aid Network Provides Services for King County’s Unsheltered Community
by Erica C. Barnett
It wasn’t so long ago — just 2018 — that Seattle could be proud of its status as the only city in the nation where transit ridership was actually going up, and the number of people commuting to the center city by car was going down. COVID-19 didn’t just reverse this trend; it obliterated it. Ridership on King County Metro buses is down about 73%, while ridership on Sound Transit’s light rail line has shrunk an estimated 70%. In an attempt to protect drivers from riders who might be COVID-positive, both agencies eliminated fares, and Metro implemented back-door-only boarding, in March. Both agencies also cut service, which has led to overcrowding on popular routes, such as the Route 7, that serve essential workers getting to and from the center city.
Continue reading As Metro Considers Post-COVID-19 Future, Agency Leaders Resist Push for Crackdown on Homeless Riders
By Reverend Angela Ying
How can Seattle have gone so wrong and become a city of people “sweeps?” The word calls to mind clean cities, such as Vancouver, Canada, and Toronto, Canada –– except sweeping is what they do to garbage.
People are not garbage.
Seattle’s sweeps cost more than $8 million per year and has no proven track record of getting people into permanent housing. Continue reading OPINION: Seattle Must Stop the Sweeps and Build Tiny House Villages
By Margaret Desmules
Note from the author: In 2015, Mayor Murray declared a “state of emergency over homelessness” in Seattle. In the most recent count, there are more than 7,000 kids experiencing homelessness in King County. Multiple funders and organizations came together to form All Home, a coalition to end homelessness. A “homelessness consultant”, Barbara Poppe, was hired last year to provide recommendations to the city.
She made more than $100,000 from this contract and advised to close almost all transitional housing programs and fund a program called Rapid Rehousing, which pays for move-in costs and a few months rent for families experiencing homelessness. Rapid Rehousing has been successful in other cities, but with Seattle’s housing market, families are often set up to fail with Rapid Rehousing as it is difficult to pay such high rents after the assistance stops. The following is a single mom’s first-hand experience with Rapid Rehousing and navigating through Seattle’s homeless assistance services. Continue reading There’s No “Rapid” Solution To Long-term Issues
by Matt Mills McKnight
Last Thursday, South Seattle community members engaged with city officials at the New Holly Gathering Hall to discuss the Othello Village homeless encampment. Othello Village will start admitting tenants on March 8th. Continue reading Community Voices Concern, Support at Othello Encampment Meeting
by Matt Mills McKnight
Last Sunday, approximately 90 rain-soaked members of the South Seattle community cycled in and out of a once fenced-in, empty lot adjacent to a 76 gas station in Rainier Valley’s Othello neighborhood. Their mission: Create a livable space at the new Othello Tiny House Village and Encampment intended to provide shelter for Seattle’s homeless, and allow them to build better lives for themselves while staying there. The encampment is set to open on March 8th. Continue reading South Seattle Residents Throw Work Party to Welcome Homeless Encampment