Report on Bellevue meeting on Homelessness: “The Difference a Home Makes”

On Thursday, May 18 I attended “The Difference a Home Makes: A Dialogue about Homelessness and Housing on the Eastside” at the First Congregational Church in Bellevue. The church donated the use of their attractive facilities for the meeting.

(See also Report on the Mercer Island forum on homelessness of May 15, 2018.)

The meeting was organized by five Eastside service and housing providers: Attain Housing, Congregations for the Homeless, Imagine Housing, Lifewire, and The Sophia Way. The event was billed as

… a deeply personal look at homelessness and housing on the Eastside. Hear directly from those who have experienced homelessness and who are currently receiving support from Eastside services organizations.

At this event, you will:

  • Learn about the services available to people struggling with housing instability or homelessness on the Eastside
  • Learn about the benefits of affordable housing
  • Hear the stories of those who have received services from Eastside organizations
  • Find out how you can make a difference

We heard presentations from homeless people (or formerly homeless people).

During the first part of the meeting, we were asked to use our cellphones to use an online tool and to guess the answers to some questions about homelessness. The questions exposed the (alleged) truth about the myths behind homelessness.

Myth #1: Homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work.

Fact: you have to work 150 at minimum wage in the Seattle area to afford a 2BR at market rates (assuming that 30% of your income goes to housing — people have to pay for food, etc). It’s impossible to support a family on a minimum wage job.

25% of homeless people have jobs but can’t afford rent.

Myth #2: Homelessness is a choice. Fact is: only a very small number of people choose to be homeless, they said.

Fact: 47,600 more affordable homes are needed (in King County).

Myth #3: Homelessness is due [just, mainly] to their own behavior.

Fact: 52% of homeless families with children suffered domestic violence.

Myth #4: Providing homeless services just attracts more homeless people.

Fact: only 9% of the homeless clients are from out of state.

We were encouraged not to judge the homeless. For example, if we see a homeless man with a dog, don’t question why he can afford a dog. It may be his beloved companion. (There’s a young Asian woman who often begs in Bellevue. I gave her a dollar the other day. Later I saw her sitting, enjoying a cigarette, and I thought: how can she afford to smoke?)

For the second part of the meeting, attendees broke up into separate, smaller groups to listen to stories from (formerly) homeless people.

A homeless woman described being cold and hungry in her car with her kids. She had been a victim of domestic violence. A homeless advocate challenged attendees to imagine making tough choices between staying in an abusive relationship (which often emerges gradually over time) and being out alone on the street, often with no assets, since abusive husbands often horde all the money and force their wives to be isolated and dependent.  Or the woman has to choose between leaving her kids behind with her abusive husband (who may abuse them or who may blame her for leaving) or taking her kids with her to live in the car, or on the street if  you have no car.

Lifewire serves abused women. Shelters often full. Homeless people try to couch surf with friends.

Statistics suggest that 1/4 of women suffer domestic abuse in their life, and 1/7th of men do too.

Two veterans spoke of being homeless. Robert has been battling homelessness since he left the military in 2000. He lost his job and ended up homeless in 2010. He ran the gambit of many ways to become homeless. Homelessness among veterans is way too high. One man put himself on the street so his wife could have a home. I asked why there are so many homeless veterans; the speakers said it’s unclear why, but it may have to do with PTSD.

John was living with his ex-wife to be near his kids. That didn’t work out and he ended up homeless. He slept in his storage unit for three months. (It’s very common, and the residents have to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid detection and to avoid getting trapped in the buildings at the wrong time.) The Veterans Administration helped him at the Compass Center.

Alita (sp?) was homeless during two periods. She worked three jobs in her 20s. She has a disabled dependent. She was married for 17 years. She chose unsuccessful relationships. Most of the guys were emotionally or physically abusive. Maybe it’s because her father was an alcoholic and her mother was a gambling addict. Her last relationship was hauntingly scary. She was saved by Sophia’s Way — the Cadillac of shelters.

Worked for the UPS, but injured her shoulder. Then grocery clerk. Embarrassed and afraid to be in a shelter. Had a background of using pills and of drinking. Never dawned on her that she’d be homeless.

A homeless client James from the Marshall Islands spoke. According to Wikipedia, “Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, subsidies, and access to U.S.-based agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Postal Service.” So, residents have a special immigration status. James has 11 children. At first he lived in Arkansas. He hurt his back. Drove. Stayed with relatives. Too many people for lease. Lived in car for three weeks. Finally at Mary’s Place. Nine months in shelter. Working full time now at the airport, fueling planes. Nice house. 33 unit building. Transitional housing, up to two years.

James is fortunate to get housing, they said. There is a huge backlog, because housing prices are so high.

When you’re homeless, getting a shower may be a one-day project.

Some of the homeless people didn’t “look” homeless.

Affordable housing is the crux of the issue, because it’s hard to find homes for the homeless. (duh!)  That was the theme of the evening.

At the beginning of the meeting they asked us to submit questions online. I asked, “How should we respond to those opponents of the Eastgate shelter who claim that its ‘low-barrier’ nature will result in increased crime in the vicinity.” I saw only two other questions (with lots of typos) in the online tool, and my question was up-voted by a couple of other people. I was expecting the meeting organizer to address my question at the end of the meeting, but they chose not to. I asked them about it, and they said to look online for answers.

But one (formerly) homeless guy asked me if I attended the city council meeting a few weeks ago. He said that a police officer reported that the highest crime spot in Bellevue is the west garage of Bellevue Square. Criminals target cars there. He also told of professional criminals who were arrested trying to steal electronics, etc. from Costco.

A worker for one of the homeless organizations said, off the record, that crime might increase around a shelter but that’s true of any group of people. (There are corrupt doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. My brother investigates insurance fraud among doctors. The governor of Florida’s company was fined for hundreds of millions of dollars of Medicare fraud. Crime was rampant on Wall Street; companies paid billions in fines. Steal a loaf of bread and they throw you in jail, steal a nation and you’re a hero.) Also, he said, if there’s a shelter the cops will know where to look. He’d rather have the homeless concentrated in one place rather than living in, say, Robinswood Park. He lives in that neighborhood and supports the shelter.

One thing that annoyed me, at first, was that there was a lot of free food and bottled water at the meeting. The food include vegetarian and vegan options. A speaker at the beginning said “There’s plenty of food, so enjoy!” I thought it was rather unseemly for there to be free food at a forum on homelessness. But who am I to judge (as Pope Francis asked)? I am blessed with a well-paying job in high tech, and we are spoiled with free food and perks. I’m sure the homeless advocates are paid low salaries compared to me. So I should be happy they get some perks too, I suppose.

These issues are complex.

The organizers encouraged attendees to share the evening’s stories on social media, to write letters-to-the-editor, and to contact city council members to support affordable housing. Use the hashtag #AHW2018.   See www.housingconsortium.org.

Report on the Mercer Island forum on homelessness of May 15, 2018

On Tuesday night several dozen people attended a homelessness forum at the Jewish Community Center of Mercer Island. The forum was arranged by Clarity Bellevue, which has been involved in the debate about plans to build a low-barrier homeless shelter in the Eastgate area of Bellevue. (Clarity Bellevue is generally opposed to locating the shelter in Eastgate.)

The aim of the forum was to be educational, and the moderators emphasized that discussion should be polite. The discussion was indeed polite; nobody raised their voice or shouted out.

Steve Fricke moderated, after introductions by Tzachi and Lara Litov. City Council member Lynne Robinson and East Bellevue Community Council member Steve Kasner were in attendance.

The speakers were:

  • Daniel Malone, Executive Director of DESC, “Seattle’s largest and most comprehensive agency serving chronically homeless adults.” “The Downtown Emergency Service Center works to end the homelessness of vulnerable people, particularly those living with serious mental or addictive illnesses. Through partnerships and an integrated array of comprehensive services, treatment and housing, we give people the opportunity to reach their highest potential.”
  • Eleanor Owen, a feisty and lucid 97 year old advocate for the mentally ill, as well as an actress, playwright,  professor, and creator of DESC. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Owen
  • Deryl Davis-Bell, works with NorthWest Urban Ministries and New Horizons Ministries. Mr. Davis-Bell went through a phase of homelessness and addiction but now helps others recover.
  • Rob Stewart, Executive Director at New Horizons and Deputy Director at Mary’s Place. New Horizons serves homeless youth.

Steve Fricke asked the panelists a couple of questions of his own and then read questions from audience members.

Anyone expecting to hear powerful ammunition for or against building a homeless shelter in Eastgate was probably disappointed. The panelists were frank about the challenges of helping the homeless population.

Mr. Stewart described how his team liases with the local community to address issues of undesirable behavior around their facilities (pan-handling, drug use, sleeping on the ground, loitering, etc). More often than not, he said, the perpetrators are unrelated to the shelter. Another panelist (Mr. Malone, I believe) said a similar thing.

There was discussion about barriers/rules for entry into facilities. Union Gospel Mission requires abstinence. Some other facilities have low barriers (including allowing convicts and sex offenders and people under-the-influence). Some shelters have a curfew/deadline for entry; others don’t. But a standard barrier is: can the people be safely accommodated? If not, they are rejected.

The panelists discussed accountability: how many of their clients enter stable housing and get jobs. Many homeless do, some don’t. A short-term aim of shelters is just to get people off the street. An additional aim is to help them become independent. Some cities have had more success solving homelessness than others.

Eleanor Owen was surprisingly outspoken about the homeless and about nonprofits that serve them. She suggested that for some of the homeless, it’s a lifestyle choice. She lived through the Depression, and hobos used to come to her family’s house. Her family gave them potatoes, and she would see them cook hobo stew. When it was time for them to leave, the hobos were thankful and always asked how they could pay back (volunteer). Nowadays, says Owen, many homeless have no sense of responsibility (giving back). Instead, they have a hang-dog look, which she hates.

Owen also suggested that some of the nonprofit organizations serving the homeless community have a vested interest in keeping the money flowing. An entire ecosystem has developed which encourages dependency. The more low-income housing we build, the more people will fill them up. [Of course, this is true about most charity, isn’t it? Should we forsake all charity?]

Daniel Malone seemed rather offended by Owen’s comments critical of the nonprofits serving the homeless . He said something like, “Do firemen want houses to burn down?”. He went onto to describe the challenges of homelessness and to defend efforts to help them. He said that few people are irresponsible. Owen said, “I agree with everything you said but …” She told stories about homeless or mentally ill people building and maintaining their own homes in Italy and other places. Somehow, the homeless need to be made responsible. [Is the problem drug addiction?

Rob Stewart said that if you ask homeless youth they may say that they like being out on the street. But he doesn’t believe it. If you actually give them a safe, private place to live, they will jump at the chance.

This led to a discussion of Housing First, the approach followed in Salt Lake City and elsewhere. The idea is to give homeless people a room and a key with no further requirements about sobriety, etc. At first, they can’t believe it. But quickly they like it, and it turns out that this approach (house the homeless!) seems to work: it SAVES money otherwise spent on the justice system (police, jail) and Emergency Room visits. Also, drug use and mental health issues get better when people have homes, since it’s very hard to treat addiction and mental illness for people under the stress and instability of homelessness.

Eleanor Owen wondered how society can pay for Housing First (she complained of high real estate taxes). But perhaps the approach really saves money in the long term.

Housing First was pioneered in the Seattle area in the 1990s. See https://www.desc.org/what-we-do/housing/housing-first/

Deryl Davis-Bell said that interpersonal relationships (with clients) are more important than “resources” (money).

The debate about the Eastgate shelter involves questions of the effect on the surrounding community of its being “low-barrier” and worries about the process (some opponents claim it was secret and biased).

Supporters of the shelter accuse the opponents of engaging in NIMBYism per the opponents’ sign “Shelter yes. Eastgate no!”

I had wondered why the moderator didn’t ask the $500,000 question that is on everyone’s mind: “In your opinion, would a low-barrier homeless shelter likely result in an increase of crime and other problems in the area around Eastgate?” But the organizers told me that that question was off the table, since the purpose of the forum was to be just educational. Besides, they said, the judging from the experience of others shelters, the answer varies and is difficult to formulate.

Some people on nextdoor.com refused to attend the forum, saying it was biased towards people opposed to shelters.

See: https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/editorials/bellevue-must-pull-its-own-weight-in-homelessness-crisis/ https://www.change.org/p/i-am-against-the-low-barrier-men-s-shelter-in-eastgate

Friday actions for SAFE: protest and press conference

SAFE

Protest and Press Conference

This action is protesting the auction of Marquette Bowman’s family home. This home was left to her by her father who was a victim of a predatory reverse mortgage. We are coupling this protest with a a press conference announcing Barton victory in court over RCO and Quality Loan Services! A summary judgment of default has been issued against Quality Loan Services and RCO in the Barton Case. The outcome of the Barton litigation shows exactly why ongoing litigation is grounds for delaying auctions where there are questions as to property ownership.

Where: 4th & James in front of the King County Administration Building across from the King County Courthouse
When: Friday October 10, 2014 @ 10:00am
Meetup: At Einstein’s Bagels on 4th and Cherry at 9:30am

Demand Delivery

Join us in delivering a demand letter to Wells Fargo Bank on behalf of Jane Mair in her continued battle to keep her house!

Where: We will be meeting at the Food Court on the Southwest corner of 3rd & Marion in Downtown Seattle
When: Friday October 10, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

Please Join Us In Our Continued Fight For Housing As A Human

King County Sheriff’s Department Arrest Jean Barton and Her Son, Drag Disabled Veteran Byron Barton to The Hospital

Two weeks ago, SAFE activists held a press conference where they asked the question, “Who runs this town?” Today, Sheriff Urquhart, stepping up to the role of corporate goon, answered the question definitively; property developers do. Thanks to a hastily-obtained search warrant, a mother and her son have been handcuffed, stuffed into a cop car, and taken down to county jail to be held. Byron Barton has been removed against his will from his childhood home and taken to a undisclosed hospital. The Bartons’ home is now occupied by unknown “renters”.

This was not an eviction; it was a raid against Seattle citizens outside the primary jurisdiction of the King County Sheriff’s Department –an extraordinary move to place a family in jail at the behest of Triangle. The Sheriff’s department forced their way into the Barton home with a search warrant and detectives. They did not have an unlawful detainer, which is the specific court document that would have allowed the Sheriff’s department to enact a legal eviction. The current unlawful detainer is under appeal.

The Sheriff issued a contradictory statement about today’s arrests. Sheriff Urquhart said of the arrests that “Triangle Property Development…is a victim of bureaucratic inaction…I was not willing to let that continue.” Does this mean that he will not allow elected officials to interfere with his interpretation of the law?

This is a clear about-face from just last week. At a court hearing regarding the Barton’s case, a representative of the Sheriff’s Department argued that the enforcement of criminal statutes, including trespassing charges, was in fact the purview of the Seattle Police Department, not King County Sheriffs. The Judge agreed. Why has the Sheriff’s Department now gone out of their own stated jurisdiction, and arrested the Bartons as criminal trespassers?

“This is a total violation of civil rights,” the Barton’s attorney Jill Smith said of the forcible eviction and arrest.

At this time, Byron Barton’s whereabouts within the hospital system are unknown. “The helplessness, I’m sure, is overwhelming for him,” Jean Barton said.

Victory at the Barton's blockade!

 

Thanks to the fighting spirit of Jean and Byron Barton, last week SAFE members were able to stop their eviction from taking place. The blockade lasted 5 days, and ended in a final push to City Hall to demand justice for the Bartons. Thanks to the Seattle Mayor’s office, the Bartons are now safely in their home awaiting their civil land dispute to be heard in court. This victory could not be achieved without the hard work, quick thinking, and resiliency of SAFE and our partners SHARE, Nickelsville, Seattle Solidarity Network, Jess Spear, Kshama Sawant and her office, Washington CAN, and Food not Bombs. Special thanks goes out to the West Seattle Weekly, who covered the event exhaustively and imbedded with us early Monday morning before our City Hall action, and to every person who sent an email to Mayor Murray demanding justice for the Bartons.

We won this victory together, and we should all be proud!

The next step is to use this momentum to speed up the policy change we have been demanding since we began. We will be meeting with the King County Sheriff’s Department to push for transparent evictions and protocols that protect the safety, rights, and dignity of evicted homeowners. We will be pushing the city council of Seattle to use eminent domain to halt the many evictions of Seattle homeowners. We are also pushing the Washington Attorney General to begin actually pursuing penalties for the criminal activity that banks engage in that result in evictions like the Barton’s.

We know that stopping an eviction is just a victory in a battle, but effecting systemic change is a victory in the overall war on eviction and foreclosure.

 

6:30PM, Tuesday July 22nd

– SAFE’s weekly meeting. Food will be served.

 

Where: The SAFE House, Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St), Seattle WA 98108 map

 

DONATE

UPCOMING ACTIONS and EVENTS:

 

Beginning 9:50am, Friday, July 25th– RCO Auction Protest!

 

Thousands of homes are sold at auction in King County each year, and not all of them are a result of legitimate or legal foreclosures. SAFE members will be staging a loud protest during a Routh Crabtree Olsen property auction in Bellevue this Friday.  We will be holding a “party-like” protest, with singing, instruments, and a decent amount of noise in very close proximity to the auction. Join us! Bryce is bottom lining this event.

Where: 13555 SE 36th St., Bellevue

 

SAFE members are encouraged to take the fun political compass test to see where they stand in relation to our politicians and leaders, and even historical figures like Gandhi and Stalin! Take the test. Lets see where we all fall in the spectrum, closer to the Dalai Lama or to Hitler?

 

Go here to sign the petition to save the Squire Park Plaza from more Goodman Realty’s greed. (Goodman Realty was the villain in the Tenant Union’s fight to save Lockhaven. Goodman Realty is buying up non-profit properties and turning them into corporate cash cows. We must stop them!

 

Go here to sign the Tenant’s Union’s petition to save the Theodora (home to veterans, elderly and disabled low-income households) and learn more about this fight.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP SAFE’s MISSION:

 

1. MOVE YOUR MONEY FROM WALL STREET BANKS – BANK SUSTAINABLY, BANK LOCALLY, BANK AT CREDIT UNIONS!

2. DONATE TO SAFE.

3. COME TO SAFE’S ACTIONS.

4. COME TO SAFE’S GENERAL MEETINGS.

5. GO CANVASSING WITH SAFE IN NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND SEATTLE.

6. VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH SAFE’S MESSAGE WORKING GROUP.

6. BUY SAFE T-SHIRTS AND OTHER MERCHANDISE AND WEAR THEM IN PUBLIC TO RAISE AWARENESS.

7. TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT SAFE AND BRING THEM TO OUR MEETINGS.

8. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK,

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER,

CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE.

 

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS  

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125.

Please visit our website.

You can like us on Facebook.

You can follow us on Twitter.

SAFE newsletter

6:30PM, Tuesday May 20th: SAFE’s weekly meeting with SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER PAUL BODEN. Food will be served.

Paul Boden is the Executive Director of WRAP (Westland Regional Advocacy Project) and he travels the country speaking and educating others on the issues of homelessness and social justice. Please join us to welcome Paul Boden to Seattle and listen to his input on the housing justice fight. Go here for WRAP‘s website.

Where: The SAFE House, Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St), Seattle WA 98108 map

UPCOMING ACTIONS:

4:30PM-5:30PM, Friday May 16th – Picket Kendra Todd!

SAFE will be picketing Real Estate vampire Kendra Todd to demand that they negotiate a bank tenant agreement with local bus driver Jo-Ann Rose. Kendra Todd are guilty of stealing homes, threatening Jo-Ann, and assaulting SAFE members so this real estate agency deserves to be told that we won’t take their abuse. We need as many people there as possible to show Kendra Todd that they’re not going to get away with their criminal actions. Jo-Ann Rose shall NOT be moved. Email bottom-liner Ismael to let him know you’re coming.

Where: The SAFE House, Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St), Seattle WA 98108 map

 

OTHER EVENTS:

10AM-2PM, Saturday May 17th – Work Party at the Beacon Food Forest.

The Beacon Hill Food Forest is a community project to provide locally grown, sustainable food that helps the environment and everyone’s bills. All are welcome to volunteer, they have work parties every month as listed on their website. SAFE unanimously voted to endorse the Food Forest and sends volunteers every month. Come and join us to meet your neighbors, get some sun, and exercise gardening!

 

Where: Corner of 15th Ave S and South Dakota St, Beacon Hill, Seattle WA. map

 

5PM-8PM, Sunday May 18th – SAFE Signs Work Party.

Zarna is coordinating a work party to make the signs SAFE needs over the next few months. It’s plenty of fun so join us to paint, spray, draw, stencil and do all kinds of creative things. Wear old clothing you don’t mind messing up.

Where: The SAFE House, Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St), Seattle WA 98108 map

 

OUR RECENT EVENTS:

This past week has been very difficult for SAFE because Dana‘s house was demolished on Monday by corrupt real estate developer Omar Lee and his associate Adam Nguyen. SAFE tried to stop this disaster by protesting the demolition. Dana and Ivy went onto the property and refused to move, accepting that the police would arrest them. SAFE members told the police that it was immoral to arrest Dana for defending her home but they arrested Dana and Ivy anyway, allowing the demolition team to swoop in and smash up Dana’s beautiful 100-year-old home. KOMO4 covered the disaster on the 6pm news, go here to watch. Go here to read Dana’s story.

On Tuesday SAFE also picketed Real Estate Vampire Kendra Todd to make them take Jo-Ann‘s check so Jo-Ann can pay to stay in her home. Bryce bottom-lined the event and SAFE members made noise outside Kendra Todd’s busy office building. Kendra Todd were well aware that we were outside and they didn’t like the bad publicity so join us on Friday for another picket. We can force them to accept Jo-Ann’s check and let her pay to stay in her home.

SAFE also held a Solidary Potluck BBQ at Jo-Ann’s house on Saturday to inform her neighbors about our upcoming eviction blockade. It was a huge turnout with much food and many speakers who talked about their own individual fight against the banks. Jo-Ann wishes to thank everyone for coming and supporting her fight to save her home.

SAFE’s Board met on Tuesday to approve hiring Zarna as SAFE’s Message Coordinator. Zarna is very excited to begin work as an official employee of SAFE next week! She wishes to thank SAFE for having such confidence in her and will do her very best to further SAFE’s mission of economic justice and systemic change.

SAFE voted unanimously to endorse the Tenant’s Union’s campaign entitled the Theodora Rescue Committee. The Theodora in Ravenna is home to veterans, elderly, and disabled low-income households. It has been providing affordable housing to Seattle for over a hundred years and is one of only a few HUD buildings left in Seattle. Now, Volunteers of America and Goodman Real Estate have entered into a purchase agreement that will displace the Theodora’s low-income households. Go here to sign the Tenant’s Union’s petition for the campaign and learn more about this fight. SAFE Organizer Ismael is our liaison with the TU.

 

SAFE’s 2nd birthday party on May 1st was a lovely event. We had more people than chairs and had to bring in extras. Kshama Sawant also joined us to celebrate SAFE’s two years of fighting the banks. One family drove all the way from Longview to be part of the evening! Selena was our MC, and we had singers, piano players, celebration videos from SAFE’s two years, cake, and great Chinese food. Here’s a video Chris King made of the event.

 

Recently SAFE held a very successful demand delivery and press conference at Wells Fargo Tower downtown on behalf of Jane and Marilyn and as part of the National Day of Action to protest this giant toxic bank. The security guard was all over us but SAFE members focused only on the task of reading our demand letter. Outside, we had both TV and newspaper press coverage. We made the KING5 6pm and 9pm news and Northwest Asian Weekly published an excellent article about the event. Go here to read.

 

Seattle has more empty houses than homeless people on the streets so SAFE is calling for a moratorium on bank evictions in King County. SAFE Organizer Josh did a radio interview with Mike McCormick on this topic and you can go here to listen. SAFE members also attended a meeting in the Seattle City Council Chambers some time ago to demand a moratorium. We dominated the tone of the meeting, totally discrediting the inaccurate foreclosure report being presented. Go here to watch us in action and go here for a press release about the meeting. SAFE Vice President Olu also met with city council members Bruce Harrell, Sally Clark, and Nick Licata to discuss housing justice, urge principal reduction and a moratorium on bank evictions.

DONATE

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1. MOVE YOUR MONEY FROM WALL STREET BANKS – BANK SUSTAINABLY, BANK LOCALLY, BANK AT CREDIT UNIONS!

2. DONATE TO SAFE!

3. COME TO SAFE’S ACTIONS!

4. COME TO SAFE’S GENERAL MEETINGS!

5. GO CANVASSING WITH SAFE IN NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND SEATTLE!

6. VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH SAFE’S MESSAGE WORKING GROUP!

6. BUY SAFE T-SHIRTS AND OTHER MERCHANDISE AND WEAR THEM IN PUBLIC TO RAISE AWARENESS!

7. TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT SAFE AND BRING THEM TO OUR MEETINGS!

8. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK, FOLLOW US ON TWITTER, CHECK OUT OUR WEBSITE!

 

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS  

You can reach us at  info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125.

Please visit our website.

You can like us on Facebook.

You can follow us on Twitter.

If you would like to UNSUBSCRIBE to this newsletter, simply reply with ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ in the subject line. Thanks!

–HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT!–

SAFE actions and events

SAFE
6:30PM, Tuesday April 22nd – SAFE’s weekly meeting. Food will be served.

Where: The SAFE House, Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St), Seattle WA 98108 map

 

4:30PM-6PM, Friday April 18th – Protest Bank of America in Columbia City.

This will be SAFE’s fifteenth action at this location and this week will be a vigil and picket. Ismael has been fighting for years to save his home from this giant toxic bank and SAFE is standing with him. Rosie was one of households included in this campaign but recently SAFE received word that Rosie’s mediation resulted in BofA granting Rosie a three month trial modification! With Ismael’s house still on the line, please join us and we can win victory for Ismael too. With so many bank evictions happening, SAFE is calling for a moratorium on bank evictions in King County and SAFE Organizer Josh did a radio interview with Mike McCormick on this topic. Go here to listen.

Where: Meet up outside the Library on Rainier Ave so we can proceed together to BofA,  4825 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA 98118  map

 

2PM-4PM, Saturday April 19th – Canvassing Jo-Ann’s neighborhood

SAFE members will meet up at Jo-Ann’s house before canvassing her neighbors to let them know about her fight. We want to inform as many people in the community as possible so they can support Jo-Ann and SAFE if it comes to an eviction blockade. The canvassing SAFE does is one of the most important parts of our struggle against the big banks so join SAFE organizers Bryce and Josh in this most vital outreach to build the movement. We need you! Email Bryce or Josh to let them know you’re coming.

Where: Jo-Ann’s house, 10426 63rd Ave S, Seattle WA. map

 

OTHER ACTIONS and EVENTS:

 

10AM-9PM, Saturday April 26th – 15Now Conference

Our allies at 15Now are bringing all their supporters together to launch the $15 an hour ballot initiative. Consider attending to discuss the campaign, get trained up for the actions, and organize. Let’s make the $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle a reality! Go here for their website.

Where: Franklin High School, 3013 S Mt Baker Blvd, Seattle WA 98144, next to the Mount Baker light rail station. map

 

11PM-1PM, Sunday April 27th – Tenant’s Union March

Our allies at the Lockhave Tenant’s Union are mobilizing to call on Landlord and Mogul developer John Goodman to not displace his tenants, and to stop ruining the communities of Ballard, Ravenna, and Seattle! There will be a March from Ballard Commons that will end with a rally at 12:30 at “Golden Tides”, Goodmans personal marina and residence, 6017 Seaview Ave NW. Go here for more information and to RSVP.

Where: Meet-up at Ballard Commons Park, corner of 22nd, and 57th to march and join the rally. map The rally itself will be at 6017 Seaview Ave NW, Seattle WA. map

 

1:45PM-5PM, Sunday April 27th – Backbone Anti-Oppression Workshop

SAFE members have been invited to attend Backbone’s workshop with trainers from The Canopy Collective (an eco-feminist cooperative) to learn how to unite and fight back against all the kinds of oppression. The workshop will feature ways in which we can work together to build our community’s capacity for positive change. Please attend to learn more about how to be effective in the battle for social justice. Go here to register, look for the “2 hour” sections.

Where: Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University, Seattle WA. map

 

OUR RECENT EVENTS:

 

SAFE members attended the meeting in the Seattle City Council Chambers a couple of weeks ago to demand a moratorium on bank evictions. SAFE members came out strong and we dominated the tone of the meeting, totally discrediting the inaccurate foreclosure report being presented. Go here to watch us in action and go here for a press release about the meeting.

 

Last Wednesday the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) hosted the Hong Kong Dock Workers and SAFE Organizers were invited to attend the meeting. It was an inspiring evening where two leaders of the Hong Kong Dock Workers gave an in-depth discussion of their unprecedented Strike to improve working conditions – which included 24-hour shifts, no opportunity to eat or go to the bathroom, incredibly low wages, and a polluted working environment. SAFE members met with our brothers and sisters across the pacific who are so heroic in their efforts for justice and so generous in their outlook. Go here for ILWU’s latest article on the Hong Kong Dock Workers.

 

SAFE’s fourteenth picket of BofA in Columbia City for Ismael last Friday was a powerful event that had a lot of local support. Previously SAFE staged a demand delivery for Ismael at BofA and managed to bring the bank to a standstill where even the security guard wouldn’t move. Ismael has now received a letter from the bank saying that they have received his paperwork. Please join us this Friday for an action outside BofA in ColumbiaCity to save Ismael’s home.

 

This past Saturday, SAFE completed its’ work party at Bethany UCC under Ismael’s sterling leadership. The Bethany grounds look great and it’s all thanks to Ismael and the volunteers who showed up both Saturdays and put in hours of work to help both SAFE and Bethany church.

 

Last but not least, SAFE is declaring VICTORY!!! We’ve been here for two years now, and we want to celebrate in style on our birthday on May 1st by taking part in the May Day parade. Then, as Jane has been granted a permanent loan modification for her house (in another fantastic victory!), she wishes to have a celebration at China Harbor for all of SAFE’s members on the evening of May 1st. Please RSVP to Lyn so we can anticipate our numbers and book appropriately. More details to come…

 

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You can reach us at  info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125.

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Rodney Tom harms the homeless

Rodney Tom hurts the homeless

From Publicola (third item):

Word is Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), head of the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, wanted the bill killed to snub ardent low-income housing advocate and speaker of the house Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford).

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Hobbs tells Fizz: “Tom told me and Sen. Benton that he told Angel to stop the bill in committee.”

….

I’m baffled as to why Tom wanted to kill this bill,” Hobbs concludes. “It was bipartisan. And wasn’t that why the MCC was formed?”

Westlake Rally Tuesday 5PM, march to City Hall Wed morning

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Occupy CEHKC (the Campaign to End Homelessness in King County) is having a rally in Westlake Plaza downtown Seattle from 5PM to 7PM. Members of SAFE will be attending as part of the coalition. Some will be occupying Westlake for the night.

Wednesday morning at 7:30AM members of Occupy CEHKC will march to City Hall from Westlake. SAFE will be present with our “Housing is a Human Right” banner.

500 homeless have died on the streets of our city since Occupy CEHKC began its vigil. There are more empty houses in Seattle than homeless sleeping on the streets of our city thanks to the banks displacement and this systematic economic disparity probably helped prompt Seattle to elect the first Socialist to the city council in a century. Time to standup and fight back.

The coalition’s demands are that Seattle:

1.) Stop evictions based on illegal foreclosures.

2.) Divest from Banks unfairly foreclosing on homeowners

3.) Increase Reduced Rate Bus Tickets

4.) Maintain Metro Bus Services

5.) Adopt Low Income Bus Fares

6.) Accelerate both the preservation & construction of affordable housing.

Members of Occupy CEHKC (pronounced “check”) are: SHARE, WHEEL, Nickelsville, Transit Riders Union, and SAFE. Learn more at: occupycehkc.org

Also on Friday, the campaign to save Jane’s home from Bank of America’s greed continues. Come to the north side of the Red Apple parking lot on North Beacon Hill at 4:30pm to protest the BofA at: 2555 Beacon Ave S

We have been hitting this bank up for the past 8 weeks as part of a direct action campaign to save a household from displacement only 2 blocks away. The home is still scheduled to be auctioned on Friday the 13th in December.

When We Fight, We Win!

Learn more at: SAFEinSeattle.org

Beacon Hill and Bank of America

SAFE: Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction

Commentary by Bryce Phillips (a SAFE Member)

SAFE’s roots are in the Occupy movement which emerged in 2011. The roots of SAFE can also be found in struggles of workers and the unemployed in the 1930s, where eviction blockades and move back-ins were common. There was a moratorium on bank evictions in 25 states and struggles for civil rights, racial and gender equality, free speech, protecting the environment, and peace that continue to this day. It can be found in the movement to confront the World Trade Organization, and the increasing unchecked power of corporations and financial institutions over our lives. SAFE is directly inspired and informed by the struggle of City Life/Vida Urbana in Boston for the rights of tenants and “bank tenants”— those of us who pay our hard earned money to the parasitic banks to continue to live in our homes.

The Occupy movement exploded worldwide in a matter of days, it was a great spectacle that challenged the oppressive status quo in the streets and in the realm of ideas. The scope was enormous and the location, goals, and direction rather vague. There was an exciting but unrealistic sense that we could change the world overnight by sheer outpouring of emotion. It was a spark that burned bright but burned out quick. SAFE emerged from the embers as an organization dedicated to the long, arduous task of waging the battle on a daily basis. Confronting the biggest threat to our communities—especially on Beacon Hill in Seattle where SAFE began—displacement.

The vision is to come together and build community in our communities amongst a great diversity of race, ethnicity, age, religion, and to organize a spirited defense of that community from the forces that seek to destroy it. Jane Jin Mair came to Beacon Hill from China where she fought for human rights and marched in Tiananmen Square. As the only English-speaker in her family, she manages the finances—that of her sister and mother. Bank of America has exploited and taken advantage of Jane’s family at every turn, harassing them with phone calls, losing their paperwork, and trying to take away the home they have worked so hard for. Those “bloodsuckers” as Jane aptly describes them, have no right! BofA happens to have a branch located only a block away from the home of Jane’s sister right on North Beacon Hill. This is exactly the kind of fight SAFE was made for!

On a daily basis, working people in the Beacon Hill community come to that Bank of America to deposit their paychecks and probably to have confusing and infuriating conversations about their accounts and mortgages as well—in a word to get ripped off. Even most of the bank employees know the fraud and duplicity of their employer, they see it firsthand. Beacon Hill has been waiting for a fighter like Jane and an organization like SAFE to lead the way. This is where real community organizing takes place. Are things going on in legislatures and courts important, yes, it is at the community level however where the big changes take place. Across America and in Seattle in particular, there is a crisis of displacement from the city. Thousands of homes sit empty, more than even the growing amount of people sleeping on the streets.

Rents jump as much as 40 percent in a single year while the City of Seattle tears down a livable housing project that served those in need since the 1930’s to make way for yet another playground of wealthy developers. Will Seattle be a city of walkable, livable, diverse communities we find on Beacon Hill, or will it become a soulless corporate office park and upscale shopping mall? We will be putting Bank of America on notice! If they wish to continue doing business in this community they need to stop destroying it! Join us; together we can create a livable community one neighborhood at a time!

UPCOMING ACTIONS

Wednesday Sept. 25th 2:00 PM – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Chair Nick Licata and all the committee members need to hear our battles, demands and solutions. Show up at 1:45 to sign up for public testimony; each person gets 2 minutes. This week’s agenda, click here. Council Chambers, Seattle City Hall, Floor 2, 600 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104. Meeting is held every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.

Thursday Sept. 26th 4:00 PM – Chase Picket for Alton and Demand Delivery in West Seattle at the Junction. Contact Sonia Hoglander for more information Sonia@HomEvo.com

Friday Sept. 27th 4:00 PM – Beacon Hill Picket at BofA for Jane – meet at Red Apple on Beacon Hill at 4PM. We will be picketing BofA for 45 minutes. Contact Bryce Phillips for more information. brycetphillips@gmail.com

SAVE the Date, Oct 26th – Halloween Party – This is to celebrate our successes. We are chasing out the ghosts and goblins of the banking industry. Let us shine the magical light of truth on the shadow economy and take back the power for the people. They lock their doors, they flail about trying to quiet our voices, they are indignant that we fight back AND WE are RIGHT! Those moments, those looks on their faces are better than any costume we could dream up. They are losing and we are the champions of the world! More details to come! Sheri bottom-lining; contact her to help. mamakin12.sp@gmail.com

THIS PAST WEEK

Lobbying Training Friday Sept. 6th – Nancy Amidei gave training on how to Lobby, this was amazingly informative and on the heels of Strategic Planning will help us formulate a comprehensive plan of attack. Eminent Domain, Eviction Moratorium, Principle Reduction, Debt Forgiveness, whatever, you gotta know the game to win the game.

September 11th – Seattle City Council Housing, Human Services, Health, and Culture Committee Meeting – Washington CAN (Reset Seattle) and SAFE filled the chambers to give testimony regarding foreclosure and eviction travesties in the Seattle area. Cornell University law school professor Robert Hockett delivered the astounding report about the state of housing in Seattle, “Post-Bubble Foreclosure-Prevention and -Mitigation Options in Seattle” pdf

September 13th – Demand Delivery for Alton who is suing Chase for non-good faith negotiation during mediation. Document & Demand Delivery for Jane fighting for fairness with BofA. We delivered with great gusto at both locations, Beacon Hill was especially busy this Friday afternoon, many took notice; even tellers gave us the fist up approval. Chase at Othello Station is a good place for a future Banner Drop for rush hour commuters. Follow up pickets are scheduled for the 26th (Alton) and 27th (Jane).

COME TO OUR WEEKLY MEETING

Tuesdays, 7:00 – 8:30 PM: Weekly SAFE Meeting: Bethany UCC, 6230 Beacon Ave S (corner of Graham St). All are welcome! This is where we bring new participants and have free attorneys available from time to time. Find out what SAFE is about and what we are working on. Our objective is to end bank evictions through mutual aid and direct action with homeowners/bank tenants that are fighting the banks to stay in their homes. This is the first step to getting involved!

Angeline Thomas from Seattle University Law School will with us on the 8th to answer questions.

QUESTIONS & COMMENTS

You can reach us at info@SAFEinSeattle.org or 206-203-2125. Please visit our web site: www.SAFEinSeattle.org .