Your voice is urgently needed to advocate for Seattle’s homeless population in response to the City of Seattle’s recent funding allocations for 2018, which included funding cuts to the existing homelessness support network. This will decimate the existing support network before alternative services are in place.
An Action Alert was sent on December 8 to members of local faith communities, their pastoral leadership and governing bodies. One of these actions calls for advocacy by local church members through phone calls and email to the new mayor Jenny Durkan and the City Council to request the following:
- Restore funding for the Women’s Referral and Women’s Wellness Center of Catholic Community Services which helps place 150-200 women into 13 faith based shelter sites per night;
- Provide for sufficient bridge funding for affected faith and community providers through 2018 to allow emergency shelter, day services, hygiene centers and permanent supportive housing providers to keep their doors open; and
- Maintain cost effect last resort shelter and services including SHARE/WHEEL to ensure that 300 more people per night do not go without supports and a place to stay.
On December 14, the City of Seattle Human Services Department posted a blog announcing that Mayor Durkan and the city council had directed the department to release an additional $1 million in funds to keep existing overnight shelters including SHARE/WHEEL open through the winter, and to refund the Women’s Referral Center of Catholic Community Services that places and transports women to overnight shelters. Advocacy on this issue is already working. No mention was made of any increased funds for existing hygiene and wellness centers. In your own advocacy, you may want to acknowledge the increased temporary support for the shelters.
The City of Seattle’s $35 million is a considerable investment to address the homelessness crisis, but is unlikely to be enough. In October the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness estimated that the real cost to adequately address the need is $93 million. Meanwhile, 88 homeless people are known to have died on our streets of violence or exposure by the end of November 2017. This is the highest number in any year since the Women in Black have kept records. In 2016, the number for the whole year was 67.
Thank you for taking this first advocacy step with our homeless neighbors. Two millennia after the birth of Christ, we are called to assure that there is finally room in the inn!
Contact info for Mayor and City Council:
Mayor Jenny Durkan: JennyDurkan@seattle.gov / 206-684-4000
Email for all nine City Council Members: email@example.com
Individual Council Members:
Lisa Herbold: firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-684-8803
Bruce Harrell: email@example.com / 206-684-8804
Kshama Sawant: firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-684-8016
Rob Johnson: email@example.com / 206-684-8808
Lorena Gonzalez: lorena,firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-684-8802
Debora Juarez: email@example.com / 206-684-8805
Sally Bagshaw: firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-684-8801
Mike O’Brien: email@example.com / 206-684-8800
Teresa Mosqueda: firstname.lastname@example.org / 206-684-8806
(Adapted from 1/15/2018 Spirit article)