Homeless in Shoreline

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tent living in a harsh winter

Text, Marc Weinberg and Greater Seattle Cares
Photos by Marc Weinberg

Local media has been reporting on the homeless issue in Seattle for years and the city’s commitment to end homelessness by 2020. In more recent times the subject has been referred to in Seattle and other major cities as a ‘crisis.’

Tent City 3 in the snow

My eyes were opened wide to the situation during the winter of 2008-09 when Calvin Presbyterian Church (Shoreline) hosted Tent City 3. It was a harsh winter and I rounded up donations for them from my home and others. With the camp’s permission, I began a photo documentary of their life and found avenues for publication of a text as well as images to bring attention to their needs.

For seven years I kept hearing the phrase from tent campers, church staff and volunteers of other support groups that “everyone knows someone who is homeless.” While I too repeated this expression over the years, I felt a strange sense of perhaps “guilt” because if it were true, I didn’t really know anyone beyond the campers I had met who were homeless.

Everything changed in this regard when in mid-September 2015 I received an email which simply said, “Is this you Dad?” It was from my daughter, who for many reasons had remained out of my life for 32 years. With great joy we got together a few weeks later when she came from Florida to visit.

It was only then that I became aware that she had been homeless and lived in her car for a year during the most recent decade of her absence. Today, more than a year later, I’m happy to report that not only do I really know someone who had been homeless, but now we are back in each others lives.

Close to home is Camp United We Stand currently at the Richmond Beach Congregational United Church of Christ in Shoreline, 1512 NW 195th St, Shoreline 98177, 206-637-1052.

Right now there are 30 people there. Many of their histories are similar to that of my daughter. Reasons for being homeless are many, and where you stand in the politics of what to do about it matters only if you can acknowledge the reality of the moment and contribute to a solution.

A happier day at Camp United We Stand

It is my wish that more in our community would visit this camp, meet the people and find a way through your social network to participate in a solution with short and long range goals.

On Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 7:00pm, the Shoreline Planning Commission will hold a public hearing (see previous article) to take citizen comments on planned changes to the regulations for tent cities, which would then be called 'Transitional Encampments'. The meeting will be held at Shoreline City Hall Council Chambers, 17500 Midvale Ave N. Comments can also be sent by email. plancom@shorelinewa.gov

The following comes from Greater Seattle Cares. Please note that the United We Stand camp will be moving November 6-7 to another Shoreline church.

Greater Seattle Cares has provided the following:

All the encampments have been requesting new tents. This is especially important as they prepare for the rainy, cold, winter weather. With some recent generous donations and a grant from the Fales foundation, GSC has been able to make a large bulk purchase of new tents and tarps for Tent City 3, Camp Unity Eastside, and Camp United We Stand.

Carport tents for public spaces at Camp United We Stand

Not only will we be able to fulfill the tent requests we have received, but we’ll also have additional tents to donate when new requests come in. These tents include singles, doubles, and family-size tents along with tarps for each, which make the tents last about twice as long. We have also purchased some carport tents, which the camps use for their public spaces, such as the Kitchen Tent, the Donations Tent and the Security Tent.

With winter not far away, waterproof shelter is not the only thing the camps will be needing. Winter clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, batteries for flashlights, lanterns and hand warmers will also soon be in great demand.

Also, a hot meal can go a long way toward keeping someone warm in cold weather. Have you thought about cooking a meal for a camp near you? Check our the meal page on our website!

Camp United We Stand is planning to move to St. Dunstan’s in Shoreline.

On Wednesday, October 5, at 7:00pm there will be a meeting at St. Dunstan’s Church to discuss plans to host. Camp residents and members of their Board will be present to address questions or concerns from the neighborhood. You are invited to come and to ask any questions you may have. St. Dunstan’s is located at 722 N 145th St, Shoreline, WA 98133.

Requests: United We Stand is hoping for men’s and women’s long johns, socks, boxer briefs and other clothing.

Other Topics of Interest:

It’s nothing new to say that the answer to homelessness is to provide homes for people who have none. It’s also not news that the Puget Sound region does not have enough low-income housing.

So, while people wait to get into housing, our area’s number of encampments has grown from two to ten.

Seattle’s Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) has been experimenting with a better solution though: semi-permanent Tiny House Villages. A Tiny House is defined as a building with less than 120 square feet (e.g. 10’ x 12’), sometimes with electricity. A Tiny House Village includes a number of these small homes with a shared kitchen and bathrooms.

This week, members of GSC will be meeting with representatives from LIHI to tour one of their tiny house communities and learn what is involved in hosting one. We will soon be reaching out to see if any of our church contacts would consider allowing LIHI to build some Tiny Houses on their property.

If you would like more details on any of these topics contact Info@GreaterSeattleCares.org.

Thank you all for your support and especially your big hearts and generous spirits in doing what you can to help those experiencing homelessness.

Photo captions corrected for United We Stand 10-19-2016

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