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.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Crazy numbers

Crisis, economic meltdown, unemployment.

This is supposed to drive the number of homeless people through the roof, right?

Well, there are some old-school shelters wondering where all the homeless people are. Numbers are down.

We've got theories. And that's all they are at this point. Alien abduction is not on the list.

Landlords may be getting less picky. If you've had an eviction, for any reason whatsoever, it follows you. Landlords won't rent. In fact the system is crazy. If a previous landlord takes you to court, and you win your case (that is, the landlord loses), the very fact that you were taken to court will be in the record, and will make it hard for you to rent ever again. But with the dicey economy, landlords may be more willing to go with a person who has cash in hand, even with a spotty rental history.

Domestic tranquility may be required. Homeless people talk about their situation. "Why you homeless?" I ask. Sheepish look. "My old lady kicked me out." When things are really tough, you might put up with that annoying boyfriend/roommate/cousin/spouse, just to stay off the street. "I can't kick them out, I need their share of the rent." Or something like that.

More resources in the hinterland. "Homeless" in Seattle used to mean 1st Avenue, Pioneer Square, and environs. But the homeless population is present now in suburban communities, small towns, and rural areas. The services are starting to grow outside of downtown. Tent City in Redmond? Shelters in Kent? This would have been unheard of fifteen years ago. There may be plenty more homeless people, but they're further scattered.

Better outplacement. Don't hate me, but there could be better outplacement, thanks to the efforts of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, and the 10-year plan. People in shelters get into transitional programs and permanent housing faster. It might be true. I'd like to think so.

Ah, well. The One Night Count is coming up, January 28/29, 2010. We shall see.

Tent City remains full.


Blogger hylarious said...

Interesting, Rick. Thanks for chatting on the phone just now. I buy the diffusion theory on the merits of the evidence. Severe-weather shelters in Bellevue: wow.

But I also think that some people just like heading to the woods, out of frustration or the desire for more freedom.

Come January, the One Night Count will offer its customary, numerical verdict, won't it?

3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where are some of the tent city locations in the Seattle area? What would be helpful for the folks there? Would like to help.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Pastor Rick said...

Kimberly Ann - Tent City Three is currently located at St. George Episcopal in Lake City, on 125th NE. Nickelsville is located at New Hope Baptist in the Central District, 116 21st Ave, just north of Yesler.

Cold weather gear is good. Last night they were asking for gloves. We brought hats and socks.

Food is always nice. They have limited cooking ability (microwave, grill). Goodies are good too. Cookies etc.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much!

11:18 AM  

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