Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On Families

Operation Nightwatch wants to help homeless families.

Here's the dilemma: We already are at capacity for single men & single women. Our numbers for the summer have been off the chart in terms of nightly average.

It isn't safe to plunk a family with children down in the midst of these single adults.

Operation Nightwatch was a dumping ground for other bigger and better funded social service agencies who simply wanted a voucher for a family they were working with; one night the social worker started to drive away in a new van having dropped off a mom who didn't speak English and her five kids. They were all neatly dressed, had no luggage. We were expected to stop serving the 150 homeless men and women to get this family onto a city bus across town to a hotel which takes our voucher, when the only adult doesn't speak English, while the social worker drives home in the shiny new van, thinking "another job well done."

Bitter? yah.

Anyway, for the safety of the kids we decided it didn't make any sense to do what we were doing. Sorry if that impacts you.

Meanwhile, we are interested in developing a strategy for families with children that makes sense. What's your idea? A single night in an isolated motel makes no sense at all.


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Blogger John C said...

One night hotel fixes usually put more strain on both parents and the kids. It's a drastic change from being on the amenities...and back to the sidewalk, when nobody knows if a family's there for days, weeks, or months before getting into some form of shelter.

Hate to say it, but if the 'family oriented' shelters are putting them on your doorstep due to lack of sounds like the next step for families there should be camping out and 'tent city'ing.

Sometimes camping out can be more stabilizing for a family than some situations I've seen families in, while using some shelters that aren't able to handle the numbers.

And Rick...thanks for the comment on my blog. I didn't have an email to reply to you at. The mention of the mission wasn't meant negatively towards it. The spirit of the post was that many fathers choose without question of their wife and children to be in a place that doesn't welcome men, and simply camp nearby.

Best, and keep up the good fight.


4:38 PM  

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