By and for Homeless People in Seattle & King County
Four years into Seattle/King County's Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, our numbers are at an all-time high. Our shelters are overcrowded, noisy, at times infested with bed bugs and often consist of little more than a mat on a floor. We have no place to store our possessions and so must carry them with us. Pushed onto the street in the early morning hours, we are hidden from sight and forced to stay on the move. We are unwelcome in your public spaces, and are harassed by your police and private security when we stop to rest.
At least a third of us sleep outside, where we are subject to trespass and arrest. Our belongings are routinely stolen and destroyed by government workers who are "just doing their jobs." When we camp in cars, we are targeted for citations and our vehicles are towed and impounded. When we come together to form safe, dignified communities, we are threatened with arrest and our supporters are bullied with threats and fines.
We die, on average, at 48 years of age. Nine of us have died by suicide so far over 2009.
We are the working poor who have been set up to fail. We experience low wages, work insecurity, lack of health care, overcrowded and unaffordable housing and unreliable transportation that leave us vulnerable to economic disaster.
We are the expendable, the dehumanized, the written-off and the devalued. We are the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill and the addicted. We are too poor, too uneducated, too old and too unemployable to matter. We are the human wreckage of a broken system that denies its responsibility and blames us for our existence.
IT SHOULDN'T BE LIKE THIS. Homeless people deserve and are entitled to the same protections as our housed brothers and sisters: a right to health and housing, freedom from violence and stereotyping, the ability to keep our families and loved ones together, and the tools to move ahead and thrive.
In 2010, worse will come. King County, at the close of this year, reduced human services funding by 46 percent. Youth shelter funding was eliminated. Food bank funding was slashed to zero at a time of record demand. The state budget crisis promises disaster. General Assistance for the Unemployable, the State Housing Trust Fund, drug treatment funding and Basic Health Care are all to be eliminated.
OUR STATE OF EMERGENCY MUST BE RECOGNIZED. The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness is a fraud. The true causes of homelessness