Posts Tagged ‘tent city’

I had a chance to participate in some organized panel discussions recently, and one of the questions for the panelists asked about ‘the face of homelessness’. The truth is, this issue has many faces. I’ll write more about this over the next week or so. But today, I wanted to share this story with you. It’s from a project that I’ve mentioned several times before, invisiblepeople.tv. This is Coreen. Unlike many of the stories you hear these days, Coreen isn’t homeless due to the recession…


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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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Here’s a quick update on a few folks I’ve written about previously. I’ve tried my best to follow the stories of Mark Horvath and David Ashby. They’re both doing amazing, inspiring things to raise awareness around homelessness…but it’s really the stories that they’re hearing that I find inspiringly heart-breaking.

  • Mark, the creator of invisiblepeople.tv, is in the middle of his road trip around America to chronicle the lives of homeless people in this, the wealthiest broke nation in the history of the world. He’s visited shelters and tent cities from LA to Florida, and his work has quickly become a “social media phenomenon”, as pointed out in this recent article for the Social Media Club of Seattle. He’ll be back in Seattle for the Gnomedex 9.0 conference on August 20th to talk about using social media to create change. Definitely check it out, if you have a chance!
  • As for 14-year old David, he is closing in on his destination of Washington DC, having walked over 740 miles so far on his journey. He recounts some of the stories of the homeless youth he’s met on his trek on his blog. David should arrive in DC sometime next week, where I hope President Obama takes the time to meet with this young man. It’s not clear whether or not that will happen, and David’s pretty clear about that not being the point of this experience. But if you want to see it happen, you can sign a petition on Change.org’s website before August 15th.

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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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    Lots of items to talk about of late: an update on our buddy, Mark Horvath, creator of invisiblepeople.tv, an interesting school project in Chicago, the latest studies from HUD and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, and tent city.

  • I had a chance to meet Mark Horvath about a month ago, when he visited Seattle to talk about his work documenting the stories of homeless people. Since then, he has begun his road trip across America. I’ve been trying to keep up via my Facebook page, and just started following him on Twitter (I NEVER thought I’d sign up for Twitter, but this project prompted me to enlist…growth is change, change is growth. Right, Dad?). Anyway, Mark’s stories about stories are amazing. The LA Times wrote about his road trip a few days ago.
  • I came across this project while reading an article in the Chicago Tribune. It is, like Mark’s work, an attempt at ‘making the invisible visible, the inhuman human’.
  • The latest report from the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty lists the top 10 worst cities in terms of criminalizing homelessness. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I gave a great big sigh o’ relief when I saw that my beloved Seattle wasn’t on there (now if we could just get officials to use our tax dollars to keep people out of jail instead of building more places to put them…see my last item for more info). In case you’re wondering, Los Angeles received the dubious honor of being Numero Uno on this list, which doesn’t surprise me. I was a little put off by the report’s use of the term “meanest” city or cities. I’ve actually been to 4 of the top 10 cities on the list, and I doth protest…a little. “Dumbest”, maybe, in terms of a severe lack of understanding of the underlying issues that make someone homeless (heads up, LA…you can’t get rid of homelessness by getting rid of homeless people). But I think “mean” is a little harsh.

    But I’m not going to argue with a bunch of lawyers.
  • According to the latest Homeless Assessment Report to Congress from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, “there were early signs that the economic crisis may be affecting trends in homelessness nationally.” Ummm, “may be”? Other discoveries of an earth-shattering nature:

    -The number of people in families accessing shelters in 2008 increased by 9%, “suggesting that family homelessness may be on the rise”…again, “may be”?? [Why is this thing written like someone’s trying to cover their a**?]

    -Homelessness in suburban and rural areas increased substantially for both individuals (34% from 07 to 08) and families (56% from 07 to 08). These are areas that traditionally don’t have a lot of social services easily accessible locally.
  • The Washington State Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of the Northshore United Church of Christ (and, by proxy, the residents of Tent City 4), saying that the City of Woodinville had violated the church’s Constitutional rights by refusing to consider a permit application by the church to host Tent City on its grounds back in 2006. The bureaucratic details of the case make me slightly wary of the City’s reasons for not considering the application, but suffice it to say I think it’s a good precedent set by the high court.
  • On a less enthusiastic “Tent City” note, the University of Washington recently decided to postpone its decision on hosting Tent City 3 at its Seattle campus. Despite all evidence to the contrary, some residents and students still equate ‘hosting Tent City’ with an ‘increase in criminal activity’ in a particular neighborhood. The truth is, while Tent Cities may not be the best long-term solution to homelessness, residents of these encampments live by a strict code of conduct and set of criteria for who can live there. According to the King County Sheriff’s office, there has never been “a problem with increased crime in a neighborhood where Tent City” is being hosted. I hope the UW can figure out the logistics of hosting TC3 soon…
  • The “No New Jail / I-100” movement will host a rally at Seattle City Hall (corner of 4th & James) this Wednesday, July 22nd, at 11 AM. If you work downtown, get out of the office for a while and come show city officials that ‘we prefer classrooms to jail cells, and investing in people instead of prisons.’
  • Patrick Kelley

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    Here’s one of Mark Horvath’s interviews on invisiblepeople.tv from his visit to Nickelsville last week. Listen to James talk about his community, and think about if you feel this connection to your own neighbors…and be sure to check out the links in my previous post about Mark’s presentation!


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    Last night, I had the privilege to meet a hero that I didn’t even know I had. Mark Horvath, founder of a project that I’ve blogged about previously called invisiblepeople.tv, was in Seattle this week as part of a national tour to talk about the project. There’s a lot I’d like to write about based on his presentation and the discussion that followed, but I’m still sorting through my thoughts. I’m a thinker, it’s what I do. But here are few things:

  • Mark previously worked as an executive in the TV industry for a variety of shows, all of whom I’d heard of, but can only remember “21 Jumpstreet” right now for some reason.
  • Fifteen years ago, he was homeless in Hollywood.
  • He currently has no income, and started this project in November of 2008 with nothing but an iPhone.
  • Mark also talked about Housing First, the model I’ve referred to numerous times before on this blog, as the best available idea to help chronically homeless individuals get off and stay off the streets. It saves money!
  • Mark also had a chance to visit Nickelsville while he was in town. Check out the blog at Change.org. The video is enlightening.
  • Mark used several powerful videos in his presentation, and I’ll see if I can post those later.


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