Monday, December 10, 2007

Survival Is a Right: Rally and Protest Camp

Between 1,600 and 2,000 people in Seattle have nowhere to sleep tonight and shelters are full. Those who find refuge in tents in parks and greenbelts have been systematically and brutally removed from those campsites. Their personal possessions and their survival gear have been confiscated or destroyed.

Join the Real Change Organizing Project next Wednesday, December 19th for a rally and overnight tent city at City Hall.

Rally: 5:00 to 6:00 PM at City Hall (600-4th Ave. @ James Street)

Overnight Tent City: 6:00 pm Wednesday to noon Thursday--meet at Real Change @3:30 for preparation.

We call upon the city to cease campsite clearances and provide long-term shelter. Join us for the rally, join us for the overnight, download the flyer and circulate it broadly. All people deserve the right to survive. We can't let the city forget it.

If you're able to camp overnight contact Natalie / 206-441-3247. For more information contact Rachael / 206-441-3247 ext 201.


staying home said...

Tim, I know you've set your trajectory already on this advocacy effort, but it might be good to think about how this will come across in public. Here are some concerns:

1) Both the Times and P-I are obviously pushing back on the need for homeless encampments in greenbelts;
2) They're both making the case that the camps are infested with drugs and violence;
3) No one in the advocacy community has successfully and publicly refuted these claims, mostly because no one really has information about what's going on there;
4) No one is connecting for the "public mind" the lack of emergency shelter with the existence of these camps; and
5) Apparently Real Change is going this alone, since mainstream housing advocates (ok, like me) were not contacted about planning or participating (I suspect this is happening because Real Change also wants all the credit);
6) You've got to make the case that City of Seattle, which puts more $s into homelessness than any municipality in the State, somehow doesn't care about people who are homeless; and
7) Tents don't say Real Change in Seattle, they say SHARE/WHEEL. People who think this protest is a bomb will likely blame SHARE/WHEEL as they commonly do.

Add all these things together and what you get is a recipe for a Rally and Protest Camp PR disaster. I'm afraid participants will look like they are protesting to maintain squalor and violence in greenbelts - something that no average citizen can figure out the advantage of; and that the message about lack of emergency shelter will be lost (how do tents say anything about permanent emergency shelter???).

Tim Harris said...

Wow. If all our allies were like you, we really would be alone in this.

Read the online petition. We're not about defending squalor. Our point is that if the City is going to escalate against greenbelt encampments, they need to provide reasonable alternatives. Interestingly, the state RFP for HGAP funding was quite explicit in what a reasonable encampment outreach and clearance program looks like: you engage ahead of time, provide housing and shelter, define and meet needs, store belongings, do follow-up, etc. The city's "let's just push them into the sea" approach hasn't come close, and when they've been called on it, they've shifted to a strategy of denial, lies, and attacking the campers in the press as drug-crazed criminals.

Getting the numbers down in Seattle is about the carrot and the stick. Housing First works. But everyone agrees that there isn't enough, we're behind on our goals, and getting our butts kicked by market forces that weren't addressed by the static 9,000 units goal in the 10YP.

Meanwhile, the downtown is being transformed into a consumerist fantasy-land for the very affluent, with 505 new condos being built in the 4 blocks near Pike Place Market alone with an average value of $2M. You can't tell me that the Mayor's sudden passion around the homeless campsites, which have been a minor public annoyance for decades, isn't about driving desperately poor people away. Most of these new downtown condos open in late 2008 to mid 2009. That's a doable time-line. Throw in some Tacoma-like panhandling restrictions, which Carr keeps talking about, and you're golden.

So, whoever you are, wake the fuck up and look around you. What I've seen is that there's plenty of outrage around this issue and people are looking for a place to put that, and it certainly wasn't coming from the CEHKC or "mainstream housing advocates" such as yourself.

Real Change's role is to hear what homeless people are saying and push the envelope in a business-as-usual sort of town. That's what we're doing.

"Uta" Urban said...

"staying home," admittedly suspicious, suggests he/she relies on sensationalized corporate opinion pieces - and "no one" - for news.

Real Change's well-publicized, factually substantiated, pro-active endeavor will likely inform or inspire the truly concerned and newly aware.

Whether it will allay the fear proposed by supposedly concerned anonymous such as thee - who knows.


Stephany said...

I tell ya what to the ppl that need to have their eyes opened as to what it's like living on the streets or at [for example] TC4: a tent DOES represent housing, minimal as it seems to ppl who don't worry about a roof over their head at night, each tent houses a real person, with a life story and most have names on them, like an address.

Last November 2006; I was returning with more gloves for the group of ppl residing under the Ballard Bridge. The place was empty, except for one man, laying on the ground next to his belongings, surrounded by police, firemen, and a clean up crew holding plastic trash bags. The man was sick, injured and I asked the police what was going to happen to him? "We are removing his things to the dumpter, he can stay here, he has no right to store belongings here."

I asked the man if he could walk, carrying one bag of his items, due to the police about to take it all to the trash. His reply , his back was injured, he couldn't walk. I told the police to call AMR and get him to Harborview, then I asked for a plastic hefty bag so I could bag his items. There stood countless police, firemen, and work crew staring at me as if I asked for a million bucks.

"I need ONE bag, what are you waiting for?"

One bag was given to me. I asked the man to point out the most prized possesions that would fit into one bag. He was concerned his bike was going to be taken. The firemen agreed to keep it for him, and they tagged it w/his name on it.

AMR came, I told them the man's name, and handed them his one hefty bag of his possessions. His bedding and the rest was being trashed.

After the police left, and the AMR--one of the ppl. came from around the corner and told me not to worry, they were all around the other side waiting for the "sweep" to finish, as it happens ALL of the time.

That was Nov. 2006.

When someone sleeps in a tent in front of city hall to raise awareness, it may not be the best PR others can think of, but I'd rather see that, then a man loaded onto a gurney unable to walk, or worse a dead body loaded up and tagged John /Jane Doe.

Heartless city. Find a solution because every death this winter is on the city's watch.

Running off homeless ppl. is not a solution, God who the hell is minding the store?

PS- Why, I ask again is the mental health system allowed to discharge patients to over-booked and full to capacity shelters? this happens every single day. Creating another problem on top of another, lack of homeless shelters and lack of housing for mental health patients.

The Viaduct has more priority than human beings in this state, and the Governor is one who needs to sleep in a tent for a week, or under a bridge. Find out this is a malfunctioning system that lacks funding, and has an infrastructure that cancels one out for another, and in the end, yes, there will still be homeless, and encampments, and dead people in the winter. Who is listening?

Radical Advocate said...

Staying home...I guess you are lucky...after all, you have a HOME at which to "stay home". It is a sad day when the word 'housing advocates' is paired with 'mainstream'. What does that mean? As an advocate (housing being part of my efforts in advocacy), I can say there is NOTHING mainstream about ANY kind of advocacy.

katia said...

I was excited about this until I heard that there would be two groups of campers: One group willing to get arrested and another group who isn't.
What is that all about?
Who is in the 'unwilling' group other than people with warrants?
The division of camps bothers me and I hope you can explain this further.

Tim Harris said...

It isn't two groups as much as one group is a subset of the other. We're not assuming that the City will threaten arrest of participants committed to staying overnight, but we don't want to simply fold if they do, so some people are preparing to hold fast in the eventuality, and CD training is being provided. And that is my poker metaphor-laden clarification. Natalie is handling overnight RSVP's at 441-3247 x211 and going into some detail on this with those who call and email