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.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dubious Record

Last night, 205 desperate people came to Nightwatch for help. The final 45 minutes were painful, handing out hats, talking about options, passing out blankets and bus tickets. There were 28 men and women with no rudimentary shelter of any kind. Every shelter in Seattle was full.

The full range of human emotions were demonstrated. Rage, humor, compassion. (One guy took a blanket, then gave it away.) Sadness. Lots and lots of sadness.

April is the worst month to be homeless in Seattle. Surprised?

City Hall housed 75 guys all winter; the Frye Apartment lobby was temporary home to 25-30 women, King County Admin building hosted 50 men, Angeline's winter shelter housed 40 women. There was a winter shelter in Redmond for 40 people. These all were closed April 1. One night, you're on a mat in a warm place, and then next night, good luck. April weather.

One final image from our Thursday night of pathos. An older woman, pushing her walker, dragging a travel bag and her little dog on a leash, was one of those going without shelter. She quietly asked to have us call an ambulance. "Where would you like to go?" we asked.

"Virginia Mason."

I gave her and the dog a lift to the ER. Hopefully the belligerant drunk at the entrance would keep the security people busy enough, they won't notice her sleeping in a chair in the waiting room.

It's 12:15 a.m. Tonight is another night. God save us.


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