homeless camps

Rita Hibbard's picture

Hope for homeless vets in Seattle - a government, nonprofit and private collaboration

There are a lot of homeless people living in cars or camping out under overpasses in Lake City. So many that the Seattle neighborhood has its own task force on homelessness. But this is a task force that helps turn words into action.

rita_hibbardwebJohn, a Vietnam veteran who lived on the streets of Lake City for 15 years, says it’s “scary” to move into his own apartment.  He hopes he will find camaraderie in his new apartment building where 38 of the 75 units are reserved for homeless vets.

"The thing is to have people become a family here and not 75 individuals," John told Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times. "It's important that people watch out for each other."

John’s sentiments remind me of Stan, who I met outside the Seattle Center last weekend after attending a session on homelessness at the Guiding Lights weekend conference. The session, presented by Bill Block, project director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, volunteer and author Judy Lightfoot and homeless advocate Joe Ingram, highlighted the number of homeless people in Seattle and King County, and how we as individuals can relate to them person-to-person.

As homeless tolls rise, so does the need for a solution

Nine bodies of homeless men have been found outdoors in and around Anchorage since May of this year, with the latest discovered this weekend, reports Kyle Hopkins in one of a series of stories in the Anchorage Daily News. The most recent man had been dead for several days before discovery. Police report no signs of foul play, but don't yet know his cause of death.

Four of the previous deaths were alcohol-related, but no other links between all the bodies are apparent. Four of the men were Native Alaskans, spurring talk that the deaths were racially-motivated killings, but so far no evidence has been released to back this up. One man was robbed and beaten to death in Centennial Park by two 18-year-olds who stole a duffel bag, $7 and beer. They have been charged with second-degree murder. Police say at least one of the teenagers was living at a camp in the park as well.

The cluster of deaths highlights a growing problem. Following recession and “gentrification” of downtown Anchorage, the number of homeless people in the city increased 35 percent from last year to almost 3000. Only about 13 percent are substance abusers or chronic inebriates. And with shelters overflowing, the question now is, where are these people going to go?

The police say they would like to get homeless people out of camps and into a centralized location, perhaps a tent city, similar to what Seattle did with their “housing first” plan where they set people up with housing without requiring them to halt substance abuse first.