— Jim Casey, Grapes of Wrath
The Minutes of the January 28 hearing on homeless encampments are up on the Human Services website, and you should read them. They're not just accurate. They're poetry. Someone cared.
Or maybe someone thinks that if we feel heard and affirmed we won't notice so much that we're being ignored.
On March 13, The Real Change Organizing Project wants to make sure that anyone who goes downtown will see and hear about the campsite clearances issue. We need lots of people. We want 200 of you to camp with us at City Hall to get the Mayor clear on our message as well. And that would be this:
Help. Don't Harass: The 2008 One Night Count found more than 2,600 persons surviving outside in greater Seattle on a winter night when emergency shelters were full. Meanwhile, the Mayor's Office continues to pursue a policy of demolishing homeless people's encampments and throwing away their property without providing any alternative shelter. It is inhumane and immoral to punish people for living outside when there is not enough shelter or affordable housing to meet the need. We call on Mayor Nickels to stop all non-emergency sweeps immediately and expand housing and services instead of criminalizing survival.You can sign onto the statement at the Real Change website.
Meanwhile, much smoke has been blown, but as far as we can tell little has changed in City practice. The new policy is a kinder, gentler gloves off approach, but with a legal framework. Head of Human Services Pat McInturff is telling anyone who will listen that advocates concerns are being addressed, but if that's true, she hasn't told us. The only thing we ever get comes comes by way of Public Disclosure Request.
A March 13 Day of Action pledge form is on the Real Change website. There you will find details and where to go for more information. There will be public visibility shifts throughout the downtown during peak traffic. There will be an evening meal at City Hall served by religious leaders. There will be an overnight encampment. Our goal for that is 200 people. Then, Friday morning, there is one big final visibility push before the tents come down.
We need people. Lots of them. If you think that criminalizing survival has something to do with compassion or ending homelessness, then stay home. But if you think the City needs to listen to the poor and start talking about real solutions to the misery on our streets instead of hiding behind their damn Ten Year Plan, this is the time to come out and make yourself heard. Go to the website. Pledge your action.