Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Come Out, Come Out ...

The more the City’s crackdown on visible homelessness unfolds, the more I feel like the proverbial blind men feeling up an elephant. The aggressive City-owned property clearances that began last spring have continued unabated after advocates cried foul over brutal tactics and an absence of protocol. City policy that has emerged has more to do with addressing legal vulnerability than meeting public concerns.

Then there’s the Washington State Department of Transportation, with two unintended tragedies on their hands this year: Isaac Palmer, killed by brush clearing machinery last June in his sleeping bag, and now another “transient” dead on a construction site. WSDOT has pursued a shadowy but equally aggressive clearance strategy of its own.

The City has also placed No Parking 2-5 a.m. signs in known car camp areas. As recently as January 30th, Human Services head Patricia McInturff said on KUOW’s The Conversation that there is no real Department of Human Services response to car camping.

Well, someone somewhere has a “response.” What is this? Twenty-fucking-Questions?

Why all the bureaucratic hide and seek? What does it take to arrive at basic accountability? The practice of chasing people from place to place — while throwing away whatever survival gear work crews find — simply deepens the misery of the desperate without offering alternatives.

On March 13, the Real Change Organizing Project will sponsor a day of downtown visibility with morning, lunchtime, and evening rush hour shifts that culminates in a return to City Hall. This time, the goal is to camp on the Plaza 200 strong. Whether you spend the night or the lunch hour, we need to hear from you. Make a commitment to stand for basic human decency. Please email today.

1 comment:

Bill/ITFH said...

We in the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness are starting a response to car camping,... we're gonna ask congregations with parking lots to host campers. Of course, we'll need to work out some rules. Send your ideas to, no anonymous emails please,..I delete those. We may need advice from SHARE,and folks like them who have experience with helping build a sense of being in something together for safety. If congregations can host park-and-rides, I think we've reached the time for park-and-rests,... one small step, one free parking place,..