Sunday, May 22, 2016

Homeless Tent encampments, how to comfort and motivate the residents

This is a "comment" for the record I sent to the mayor and council about homeless encampments. They'll be having a study session about it soon.  
I've made many visits to Tent City 4 (TC4) encampments at St. Jude over the years and talked with the residents and on-site TC4 "camp managers".  I live 1/4 mile away from St. Jude.  In all the years St. Jude has hosted TC4 my family has never encountered a "safety problem or issue" (though we did worry about it early on). The camp residents seem docile and harmless to me.  I recommend warrants but I don't think background checks should be required.  I think the safety issue has been blown way out of proportion by some of those commenting at public meetings.   
I agree with the Amendment language that there be a REQUIREMENT for access of human services, especially "regional" organizations serving the Eastside. A good example of a regional human service organization is HERO HOUSE. Their mission is "to provide rehabilitation and employment programs for adults living with mental illness".  They have a van to transport WILLING residents to and from the organization.  Membership and all of their services are free. HERO HOUSE is located in Bellevue but they serve all the residents in King County. This organization is truly regional. They are very well financed with strong support from King County.   
Access to human services will help those willing to find permanent shelter.  Human service "access" should be a requirement not a recommendation of hosts and/or sponsors.  Residents should know about available human services; of course, residents shouldn't be required to use the services.  I recommend the burden of requiring access be put on the sponsoring groups rather than the hosts.   From my experience at St Jude, when the Father once committed to share Hero House literature with the residents, Tent City 4 "camp managers" sat on it  -- they could care less.  A requirement for access will produce better results if it's placed directly on the sponsor. Though host churches have good intentions they have many other things to do.
I hope Council can find a way to increase the duration at host churches to 6 months while keeping the frequency for both hosts to every one or two years. Lowering frequency will take "the burden" off our neighborhood.  Extending duration will give the regional and local human service organizations more time "to make a difference." 
Bob Yoder

HERO HOUSE website: 

1 comment:

John Reinke said...

Thanks very much for your thoughtful and constructive comments on the Homeless Encampment issue, Bob. I support your call for permits to allow a six month stay.