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.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"Behind the Red Wall"

It's getting scary.
The police department is cracking down on homeless people. I didn't realize how bizarre things had gotten until last night.
I was out late with a group of college students visiting from Greenville, Illinois, a village about 90 minutes from St. Louis, out in the cornfields. We walked a bit downtown, and saw several weird things, to me:
First, there were no people sleeping under Yesler street at 4th Avenue. This has been a homeless camping area for 20 years.
Second, there was not a single soul in City Hall Park at 8:30 at night.
Third, there was a chaotic queue of homeless people along the Jefferson Street side of the King County Administrative Building, waiting for the opening of the County-funded winter shelter for men run by Salvation Army. Why they think lining up, first come/first served is a good idea, I don't know.
We walked up 4th Avenue. Across the street homeless people waited for the opening of the severe weather shelter at City Hall (Behind the Red Wall -- sounds like a great book title).
It was 9:00 p.m. The doors were still locked.
Cold sleet and wind. But maybe not cold enough?
City of Seattle workers didn't think so.
I think any night that the severe weather shelters are closed, the following day they should shut off the heat in all City offices. It's only fair.
It was a miserable night watching homeless people milling around with no place to go.



Anonymous donna.pierce said...

Do you know who is "in charge" of deciding whether to open the severe weather shelters? Is there any place on line that tells when these shelters are open?

I think it's time for a very pointed letter, at the very least...

11:12 AM  

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