Lake City Community Conversation on Homelessness

Lake City Community Conversation on Homelessness

Held May 24, 2017

This was an hour-long panel discussion. The panelists were various people who are involved in serving the homeless in Seattle, and two of them in Lake City, a couple from Seattle Police, and one formerly homeless person who is a long-time resident of Lake City.

The average number of homeless over 9 years who were counted in the annual night count in Lake City is 60. That includes sheltered and unsheltered. In the latest count, there were 87, with about 87 of them in shelters. Lake City has hardly any homeless families and children. Not only has homelessness increased, the homeless are more visible in Lake City, mostly because of development. They are less able to tuck themselves away in greenspaces.

The increase in rents correlates with increase in homelessness. Over 80% of homeless around here are from Seattle or King County.

The Seattle Director of Homelessness advised us to ask local politicians in the upcoming campaign season these three questions:

1 – What do they think should be done about the crisis of affordable housing? Seattle is 30,000 units short of the subsidized housing that is needed.

2 – Seattle’s budget for homelessness is $50 million a year. What is your plan for this budget?

3 – What should we do about the people on the street right now, pending longer-term solutions?

Panelists responded to the moderator’s question, ‘What is missing in Lake City that would help the homeless problem?’

– Provide permanent year-round shelters instead of the rotating ones that are open only five months of the year

– Fund recuperative care, to help homeless people discharged from the hospital get the after-care they need, such as from surgery, or for a broken leg.

– Provide more meals

– Not all people want to be in shelters. Provide 24 hour drop-in centers for showers, etc. God’s L’il Acre is only open for a few hours a day.

– Expand the police’s LEAD program (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) It’s  a pre-booking diversion pilot program developed with the community to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes.  It allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, instead of jail and prosecution.

Asked to tell us how the Lake City community can support homeless people, panelists said

– Get community groups to band together and work with City agencies such as Department of Neighborhoods

– Advocate for the homeless, such as asking the mayor and city council members to do more and fund more.

– Volunteer to be a helper, what is called a ‘companioning person’. Many homeless want to get services and homes, but don’t have the wherewithal to go through the bureaucracy. Having a one-on-one mentor to help fill out paperwork, make and go to appointments with social services, increases likelihood of good outcome. The formerly homeless panelist said it took him seven years to get an apartment, and it was largely because someone who cared helped him do it.

– Go to some of the local churches and other venues that serve meals to homeless. Help in the kitchen, or just talk to the customers. Lamb of God serves meals on Sunday nights.

– Get involved in the Lake City Task Force on Homelessness. It meets at the Mennonite church on the 2nd Friday of each month, from 3:30 – 5:30 pm.

– Mobilize your church, book club, hiking club, or whatever, to do something to help

– Vote for candidates who care about this issue.

– Donate money

2 comments to Lake City Community Conversation on Homelessness

  • Bryony Angell

    Thank you, Nancy, for these very informative notes from the meeting.

  • Claire Petersky

    Also something that would help: develop homeless facilities for the elderly. If you are an older adult, you may not be able to undress, shower, and dress yourself again in the 15 minutes required by the Urban Rest Stop. Disabilities may prevent you from sleeping on a cot or on the floor. Unlike some younger homeless adults, seniors who are homeless report that they *want* to be housed – but often are afraid for their personal safety at shelters because they are more vulnerable.

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