Hello. My name is Wes Browning, and I have an anger management problem. And the city of Seattle is not helping.
When former-Mayor Ed Murray was still our king, the city required bids from homeless service providers for city funding starting in 2018. The main criterion to be eligible for funding would be a record of placement of clients into housing.
The results are in. Who got what?
Well, gee, hygiene services help homeless people stay clean so they can be presentable for employment and escape discrimination around the clock by everyone in the world. When should a service that provides showers and laundry put people in housing? What would they do, build apodments from used detergent boxes?
Denied funding. Most of the hygiene services. Denied. Because of idiotic criteria applied by idiots in the name of idiocy.
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The Women’s Referral Center referred up to 180 women per night to shelters, who’d otherwise spend hours daily hunting down empty beds in the system. Denied funding. Because they never put any women into an apartment. So to hell with them, says the city.
To hell with the city, says me, and I ask that they please rehire Barbara Poppe “homeless consultant” to drive them there and keep them company forever.
SHARE, the Seattle Housing And Resource Effort, has 11 indoor shelters for homeless single adults. Each shelter is run by those who use the shelter. Because the shelters are managed by the homeless people who use them, SHARE shelter beds cost a fraction of what shelter beds usually cost, per night, as little as 10 percent.
But because SHARE consists of homeless people managing their own shelters, they don’t get much done in referrals to housing. Nor should they for the work they’re doing at such low cost.
You want SHARE residents referred to housing, Seattle? Take the money saved by letting them operate shelters and put that into a separate referral service. Don’t dump more than 200 homeless people onto the streets where they will be that less likely to find housing.
And about that demand to refer people to housing: The funding was supposed to be mainly based on which services have shepherded clients to permanent housing. One of the big winners of the new funding is the rapid rehousing program, which gets credit for putting people into permanent housing all the time — when they don’t! The housing in “rehousing” isn’t permanent, and there is scant evidence that it leads to permanent housing for more than a tiny fraction of clients.
Providers of shelters who would receive funding were expected to promise to double the number of clients they channel into permanent housing going forward. How does that work? Some shelter services do also provide their own housing. But just because one of those promises to double the amount of housing it creates doesn’t mean that’s going to happen. Why is the city pointing to promises exacted by extortion as evidence that twice as many homeless people are going to be placed into housing in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration? Because they think we’re all as stupid as they are?
The Seattle Times presented a report claiming homeless advocates were wrong to denounce homeless sweeps because, golly, didn’t we know that the city put out a Navigation Team to try to help campers clean up camps and coax them into shelters?
We were supposed to be impressed by the Navigation Team, which started only in February this year and has shown limited success so far partly because of a shortage of funding.
But OK. Let’s give them a chance. Let’s acknowledge the good work they have been doing, and let’s let up on our complaints to the city about the ongoing sweeps.
Whoops, the Navigation Team was denied expanded funding. Never mind! STOP THE SWEEPS!
Shelter services, hygiene services, referral services, all do essential work to assist homeless people in their daily struggles just to survive and should not be expected to also create housing and direct people into housing.
Seattle has to dedicate separate funding for the creation of permanent housing. Stop pretending that we have to choose between emergency services and permanent shelter.
Durkan could be a good mayor and fight to roll this process back or work to find new funding for the services cut. I’m not holding my breath for that to happen. The idiocy is too strong with this city government.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time a math professor and has experienced homelessness several times. He has been involved with Real Change since he supplied the art for the first cover in November of 1994. This is his weekly column Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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