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, October 10, 2007

Bargain basement

For so many years Nightwatch simply provided access to shelter -- we would top off the empty mats in various shelters.

Then in the summer of 1995 things changed. We started paying for shelter. It was a bargain basement deal -- inside on the floor of a day program -- what was then called First Ave. Service Center. No mats, no blankets. Their motto "It beats an alley." Homeless guys kept an eye on things, sort of. Complaining was pointless.

The only way Nightwatch could afford to provide the service: the homeless guys in charge were paid a "stipend" as a part of an under-the-table "work training" program. (Don't blame us, we were simply the customers for this bargain basement deal.)

Now that FASC (now the Family & Adult Service Center) is being professionally run the costs are up (still not a living wage for Seattle, but pretty sure the deal includes health care and holiday pay). Way up. Like, how-the-heck-is-Nightwatch-going-to-pay-that-up.

So, on the one hand we're patting our backs for raising extra money to pay for the new women's shelter; on the other hand we're scratching our collective heads to figure out how we're going to survive 2008-2009.

Maybe we simply stop messing with shelter, and hit the streets ourselves. It sucks.


Anonymous donna.pierce said...

I keep having visions of 40,000 people sleeping on the street to protest both the lack of shelter and the lack of affordable housing and a living wage. A sleep-out. Yeah, right. In my dreams. I'm having trouble just getting my church to let Tent City sleep in our lousy, cracked, slimy parking lot because we don't think we can focus on that and our CAPITAL CAMPAIGN (!!!!!!!!!!) at the same time.

7:35 AM  

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