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Archive for the ‘Financial stability’ Category

Our old friend Mark Horvath stopped in at Nickelsville earlier today. You can check out his photos and link to his Invisiblepeople.tv Road Trip stories. Anyway, I heard about this, and I got to thinking, [insert post title here].

[Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur asks the same question at the end of her heartbreaking article today about Philip Carrasco. I like to read Ms. Brodeur’s column regularly, but even if you don’t, check this one out. And thank you, Nicole, for telling stories “that, otherwise, may not get into the paper.”]


Now, back to Nickelsville…what do you think, Seattle? (Mike) “McGinnville” definitely has a better ring than (Joe) “Mallahanville”, but that could just be because it sounds like McMinnville (I guess it’s a place in Oregon?). I’ve gone through both official websites, and have to say sadly that I’m not all that impressed with either candidate’s stance on homelessness, poverty, or affordable housing. Mr. McGinn mentions ‘housing’ exactly once as far as I can tell, although he does spend quite a bit of time talking about how he will effectively reduce poverty by providing broadband Internet access to ALL, which I take to mean EVERYONE. Huh. Maybe Mr. Mallahan can help him out with that by getting T-Mobile to offer up free handheld, broadband-access devices to the tens of thousands of Seattle residents living below the poverty level. Because when we talk about ‘basic needs’, that’s right up there with food and shelter.

Speaking of Mr. Mallahan, his site does a slightly better job of describing at least some experience in working on these issues. But although he does provide some thoughts on homelessness in Seattle, he doesn’t really seem to say much more than ‘as Mayor, I’ll make sure these programs are funded and held accountable.’ Where haven’t we heard that before?

I kind of look at both of these guys and think things like, sure, traffic’s a pain in the ass. But I mostly take the bus, and the bus works just fine. And surprisingly enough, I can’t live on a bus, or eat one.

When it comes to elections, I have kind of a whacky way of choosing who I vote for. I’m generally not interested in knowing what a candidate will do for me. I’m usually more interested in knowing what they’ll do for someone who doesn’t have what I have. In this case, I’m talking about a roof over my head that I can afford and enough food to eat. And right now in that regard, I’m just not seeing either one of these candidates much differently than the guy we just kicked out. That could definitely change.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, I want to admit that I did not vote for either Mr. McGinn or Mr. Mallahan. As a matter of fact, I volunteered for one of their opponents (not the incumbent guy). But I do have close friends who are intricately involved in the campaigns of both of these men. And by all accounts, they are both men of intelligence, fairness, and integrity, insofar as human beings can be. I wish them both the best of luck in the general election, and hope beyond all doubt that, no matter the outcome, neither man does anything that would lend credence to having a homeless encampment named after him. Because that would be weird.

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If you can spare that much time right now, give this a listen. It includes the story of a woman currently staying at the Jubilee Women’s Center in Seattle. The familiarity of these stories gives me pause. Not to mention a 40% increase in the homeless population would be catastrophic.

How can you help?

  • Volunteer to lead a supply drive for the Community Resource Exchange on September 11th. You can help make sure a family currently experiencing homelessness gets the assistance they need to make it through the winter.
  • Want to volunteer? We do need 25 people or so to help us assemble about 1,500 hygiene care packages on September 10th. You can sign up right here.
  • “The future is not shaped by people who don’t believe in the future. It will be built by people who see the complexities that lie ahead but are not deterred; people who are conscious of the flaws of humankind but not overwhelmed by the doubts and anxieties of life; people with the vitality to gamble on their future, whatever the odds…”–John W. Gardner

    Patrick Kelley

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    ‘When researchers refer to mental illness, crime, marital breakdown, drugs and addiction as contributing factors of homelessness, are they referring to the homeless themselves or the politicians and other bureaucrats?’

    I got that from the comment section of a recent Calgary Herald article which talks about how all of these elements do matter, but matter so much more when your income is so low that you couldn’t afford rent in your area even if none of these elements came into play. The author also suggests that the cooling housing market could even prove beneficial to people who are or might experience homelessness, as those who might traditionally attempt to rent a place now could potentially become homeowners at their current income level, freeing up rentals and trickling down to where rents may even decrease as a result, making it easier to afford, etc etc. Those crazy Canucks.

    I read a similar article the other day about dropping housing prices, I think written by someone in California (or maybe Oregon, I can’t remember…sorry). They seemed to suggest, however, that the decrease in housing prices into the mid-100’s to low-200’s was a sure sign of the apocalypse (okay, not really, but that was the basic premise).

    So, the idea that the downturn in the housing market could actually make it easier for some people on the lower end of the income spectrum to purchase their portion of the [enter country of choice here] dream is a BAD thing? Granted, there probably aren’t many financial institutions readily lending to this bunch…they’ve used up most of their bailout money as bonuses for their execs before they fired them, but you already know that part of the story…but how did the concept of having home prices be ‘affordable’ to anyone with a decent income become the work of the devil?

    If you’ve lost your job, have fallen behind on your mortgage, are about to lose your home (or already have), and are having trouble selling it for a fraction of what you paid or owe, I feel for you. I really do. And I stand right there with you in utter anger and frustration if this ‘housing stimulus’ plan does nothing to help you keep your home. That really doesn’t make any sense to me.

    But it’s also never made sense to me that owning a home should just be a dream for the middle class. (Actually, restricting a human being’s access to permanent, stable housing to their ability to pay for it has never made a whole lot of sense to me, but that’s another conversation). I’m glad housing prices are coming down. I’m glad more people making less money than many of us can look at homeownership as an option. And I hope that these folks in the banking, lending, and real estate industries have learned their lessons–help people get into homes, come up with the best payment option to keep them there, stop looking at them as a salary range, and quit trying to make the quickest buck on someone’s life. You’re all a step or two away from becoming this generation’s ‘lawyer’ equivalent in the “the only good banker is a…” lexicon. I might even go so far as to add those groups to the original quote at the top of this post…

    Patrick Kelley

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    Things are happening fast this month!

  • Wednesday is the Community Resource Exchange! Dozens of service providers will convene in one place on one day to help over a thousand homeless individuals and families. Keep an eye on this blog to hear stories from our volunteers!
  • Next Wednesday is April 15th, which means your taxes are due. Our tax prep sites will be doing paper returns ONLY for this final week (no e-filing), so be sure to come in and get your return completed so you have time to drop it in the mail by the 15th. If you need to file an extension, you can file a Form 4868, but keep in mind that an extension to FILE is not an extension to PAY if you owe money. Failing to file by the 15th could also cause you to have a late-filing penalty in addition to your tax owed and interest accrued.
  • Hunger Action Week is April 20-24! Participate in our Hunger Challenge and see what it’s like to survive on $7 for food per day (the maximum per person in food stamp benefits per day). Read more about what’s happening, sign up for the Challenge, and offer your thoughts on our blog.
  • And finally, there’s a lot of chatter out there about deficits, and spending cuts, and a state income tax. The Times suggests that items like the GA-U are “less urgent” in the face of proposed cuts to education. The legislature meanwhile began consideration of a state income tax, which my friends over at the Times editorial board politely referred to as “fairy dust“. So, I know what the Seattle Times thinks about all this. What do you think? What would you cut? Or if cutting isn’t the answer, how would you increase revenue? Is an income tax a good idea?

    I really want to know.

    Patrick Kelley

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    I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a President say the word “homeless” out loud in front of a camera when he wasn’t running for something. Granted, the question did prompt him, but still…here’s a thoughtful blog string from Change.org about President Obama’s response from his press conference.

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    How many of us have actually thought about what it actually means to be homeless, I mean really conceive it, get it, feel it.  Think about the absolutely horrible feeling of having no where to go when you just want to sleep, be warm, be dry, be away from everything.  With things the way they are in the world, it is much more of a reality for a lot of us now then even a few months ago.

    I recently sat in on a listening session hosted by United Way of King County focusing on how people are doing right now, how has this “financial recession” hit you and those you are connected to.  It was a most sobering experience but at the same time, there was a sense of, dare I use the cliché word of the time, hope.  With as dark as the clouds are looking these days, the silver lining was hard to find, but it is not gone.  We have a chance to work towards making our communities stronger. 

    Our “communities” are changing shape and individuals are becoming more and more isolated.  We might now have the tools to find long lost elementary school friends online via all the social media tools but how many of us really know our neighbors?  We can spend time connecting to people thousands of miles away and yet spend no time getting to know people that live right beside us. 

    I say this to emphasize a point that was brought up in our listening session in regards to recent immigrants to this country.  A strong non-profit service provider brought a group of individuals to the listening session to talk about how the hard times are hitting them.  Over and over again we heard how they are isolated in their community, their family is largely back home and they came here to provide for them but find themselves alone dealing with very difficult times.  The feelings of being “alone”, “depressed”, “forgotten”, or “uncared for” are not ones that are limited to the new folks to this country.  Those sentiments are being echoed through out communities in our county and in our country. 

    The hope that I mentioned earlier was in reference to the feeling as people left the room as the listening session in SeaTac City Hall was wrapping up.  Yes, it was heavy and people were still heading home to uncertain budgets and scary futures, but people felt like they were not alone, and that seemed to reassure folks.

    Communities are not there to support each other in the ways that they used to be.  We are all sliding a bit closer to that “brink” but with the help of everyone right outside our door, we might not feel quite so alone.  I want to take this chance to challenge you all out there to say hello to a neighbor, passerby, person you have seen at the bus stop many times.  Take a step towards building a local community because who knows, you might be the next person to offer them a listening ear in their time of support or you may need one yourself!

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    Last night, I had a chance to facilitate a table at our second Community Listening Session. These sessions (more are being planned) will help inform United Way of King County’s overall plan to address the rising needs of food, housing, and other basic essentials in this economic downturn. My co-facilitator, Tracy, and I asked a series of questions to a table of representatives from area service providers. And then we shut up and listened. Notes are being compiled as I write this, but these are the highlights of what I heard:

  • We are all surrounded by messages of despair in the media, in our neighborhoods, on the faces of our clients and co-workers…and that makes it very difficult to wake up each morning and come in to try to do the right thing, when we know the right thing isn’t going to be enough for some people.
  • Volunteerism is way up, which is great! But it’s mostly up perhaps because so many people have been laid off, which is not so great. And it’s hard to manage this influx of help when co-workers that use to handle that are themselves being laid off.
  • Things will get better, and the economy will improve. We know that. But in the meantime, United Way should invest (and partner with others to do so) in getting people housed and keeping them housed, and providing food. Keep people from losing their basic needs, and then we [the other providers] can be more successful in helping them with other challenges and opportunities.
  • I am grateful to everyone who was in that room last night. Once the official write-up is completed, I will post it here for all to read and reflect on.

    Patrick

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