Unity, Power on Homelessness - in the City and Suburbs
Sound Alliance leaders led two successful actions on homelessness in one week, showcasing the Alliance’s broad-base in both the city of Seattle and the suburb of Federal Way.
On February 17, over 175 people filled Federal Way City Council chambers and two overflow rooms, in support of funding a day shelter for the homeless.
Just two days later on February 19, over 100 people gathered at the University of Washington to ask Councilmember Jean Godden to support permitting three new homeless encampments on city-owned land, as an emergency housing solution.
Based on their on-the-ground experience, Sound Alliance leaders know that homelessness is on the rise locally in Federal Way and in other suburban communities. Brookings Institution national research backs this up: the rise of suburban poverty is a major trend in America. At the same time, Seattle rents have increased more than any other major city between 2010 - 2013.
Over 175 people filled Federal Way City Council chambers and two overflow rooms in support of funding a day shelter for the homeless.
The Sound Alliance has been working with leaders to see connections on the homelessness issue across King County and has formed a “Mental Health, Homelessness and Health Care Team” to address the issue from its many angles.
In addition, the Sound Alliance is aware that the constricted state budget hinders local governments’ ability to provide basic services such as mental health care, education, and affordable housing, exacerbating issues such as homelessness. The Alliance has committed to address this larger issue over the long term, and has recently formed a new “Funding Essential Services” team to tackle it at the local, more short term, level.
Turnout for Tuesday’s action was led by leaders from member institutions Saltwater Church and St. Vincent de Paul, who presented a “Civic Academy” briefing on the issue at community churches to drum up support. Allies who testified at the City Council Meeting included leaders from the homeless community, Catholic Community Services and Valley Cities. Read more about the City Council event in the Federal Way Mirror.
Thursday’s action was led by University of Washington students in the Health Equity Circle. Councilmember Godden’s position on the encampment ordinance and her attendance at the assembly was unclear, and she had voted against a similar measure in 2013. Health Equity Circle leaders invited her in different ways, following up with multiple personal phone calls. Invitations from institutional leaders from other Sound Alliance member organizations helped to seal the deal.
Councilmember Jean Godden with Health Equity Circle leader Misha Krushelnytskyy (Photo Credit: Afomeia Tesfai, Health Equity Circle)
At the action, CM Godden listened to personal testimonies that shattered common stereotypes and misconceptions about homelessness. In the end, she agreed to support the proposal permitting the three new emergency housing encampments.