Bellevue City Council hearing on the proposed homeless shelter

[Edited and extended on June 15, 2018]

On Monday, June 11, I went to the Bellevue City Council hearing about the proposed Eastgate homeless shelter. About seventy people had signed up to speak (three minutes each).

The first pair of speakers were Betsy Hummer and Stephanie Walter from the East Bellevue Community Council. They reported the EBCC was opposed to safe injection sites, wanted light industrial areas  as potential shelter zones, and wanted a 1,000 foot buffer zone around any low-barrier shelter, so that no schools or churches could nearby — a similar rule applies for marijuana retail shops. These changes would make it difficult or impossible to locate the low-barrier men’s shelter in Eastgate.

During the next two hours, several dozen people from religious organizations spoke in favor of opening the shelter in Eastgate: Christian clergy, rabbis and representatives of the Bellevue Muslim community. They all made a strong moral case that it’s our obligation to help the poor and the down-and-out. It’s our obligation not to give into fear. It’s our obligation not to treat poverty as a crime.

Many of these faith communities had hosted homeless people in their churches, synagogues and mosques.

The supporters of the shelter spoke, in particular, against the proposal to require a 1000 foot buffer zone around shelters. Supporters of the shelter said that such a barrier would make it almost impossible to locate a shelter in Bellevue.  Supporters also spoke against proposals to limit shelter clients to those who have no outstanding warrants. Many warrants are expired, incorrect, or minor. Besides, having such people sleeping in parks, wooded areas, or on the streets doesn’t make us safer.

Many Bellevue residents are strongly opposed to locating the shelter in Eastgate — the location is near a Park and Ride and a community health center, and not far from Bellevue College and some condos —  out of fear that it will bring crime and lower property values. The shelter will be low-barrier — meaning homeless men will be admitted regardless of criminal records or drug use — and opponents of the Eastgate location fear increased crime.

Yet a Guardian study finds that crime does not increase around homeless villages in Seattle or Portland. If any thing, it decreases slightly.

Some opponents of the shelter had put up signs “Shelter Yes, Eastgate No” around Bellevue. Such signs suggest that opposition is based on NIMBYism. They prefer that the shelter be located in light industrial areas or the Spring district.

On there is a lot of heated discussion about the shelter; almost everyone who participates is opposed to the shelter. Opponents were critical of the organized dominance of the hearing by the faith community.  Some opponents appealed to the separation of church and state.

Opponents of the shelter also allege that there was favoritism towards Congregations for the Homeless and that plans for the shelter were done behind closed doors and with insufficient notification of neighbors.

Stephanie Walter of the Lake Hills community in Bellevue gave permission to share her letter in opposition to the Eastgate shelter:

Dear Members of the Faith Community,

I am one of your members…or at least I think I am. I have faith – that is the criteria, correct? I do have to say that I was surprised, scratch that, I was stunned last Monday night at the Bellevue City Council meeting. There was a concerted effort by people stating they were speaking as part of the faith community to delay the voices of their neighbors at the public hearing for Land Use Code for Homeless Shelters. A public hearing is intended to include voices from all sides of an issue. This group of individuals came early and lined up to sign up one after the other to speak as a block, in succession and without deviation. They all had much the same things to say as if it had come from a set of talking points. There were things said that were inconsistent with facts as I know them from my Planning Commission experience. They spoke for almost two hours saying the same things – over and over and over again. Bellevue residents who had studied the Land Use Codes of other Cities as well as researching the best practices of shelter providers waited patiently for their opportunity to speak. At about 8:10 pm, they finally began speaking. Facts, figures, data, compassion, and an eagerness to work well with others were all part of their message. They were regular yet extraordinary citizens of Bellevue who spent their own time and sometimes treasure to help the City create the best shelter situation possible. For all the parties impacted – homeless and housed alike. The hearing went until well after 10 pm. Many people had to leave due to the late hour.

In our Country we benefit from representational government. No matter how just the cause, every side of an issue deserves to be heard. Manipulation of this process creates long term harm.

Here are a couple of examples of inaccuracies:

  • A 1,000 foot buffer would prevent siting of a shelter. Marijuana stores have a 1,000 foot buffer and they have been sited.
  • Child care can coexist next to a homeless shelter. Not in the case of low barrier shelters where no IDs and backgrounds are checked.
  • Rotating shelters’ success is evidence that the permanent shelter will be successful. The permanent shelter will not house individuals in the same condition as the rotating shelter. Men will progress from the permanent shelter to the rotating shelter if they make progress gaining life skills.
  • Bellevue neighbors who want strong Land Use Codes to govern shelters do not want a shelter. This is simply not true. They want a shelter that will be safe both inside and out.

There is much work to be done. There are people who have exhibited their willingness to work together with their neighbors and the Council on a reasonable and rational shelter or shelters. Drowning out their voices is fracturing neighborhoods and I fear it is also fracturing the communities of faith.

Likewise, Tuli Davenport gave permission to share her letter to the Bellevue City Council:

My letter to council is long but it includes a recap of claims made and couple of requests.

Dear Mayor, Deputy Mayor, councilmembers, city manager,

The turn out for the Shelter LUCA public hearing was impressive. Clearly, the recent outreach efforts by the city and CFH faith network around King County was successful.

CM Robertson thank you for staying the entire length and listening to all the public comments even though you were not well. CM Stokes, if I ever make it to my 90s, I hope that I am blessed with your stamina. Thanks to all of you and to staff for all the work and effort that has gone into creating a thoughtful shelter LUCA that will play a small but an important role in addressing the homeless crisis created by years of Seattle’s failed policies.

I would like to recap and rebut a few inconsistencies presented by the special interest non-profit faith communities (who spoke continuously for the first 2 hours!) and also highlight one valid point that they made.

Claim 1: Criminal background-checks is criminalization of homeless

For many years now, CFH Year Round shelter at the rotating churches have performed criminal background checks. The faith community churches have had this rule to protect their property and members. However, it is strange that they are asking shelters near neighborhoods to follow a different set of rules where warrant and background checks are not allowed.

Kan Qui, one of the Bellevue residents who testified, drew laughter from the audience when he said: “Jesus doesn’t ask you to sacrifice other people’s neighborhoods”. Faith community members should first practice what they preach and remove criminal background checks from their year-round shelter before asking others to do it. However, that is very unlikely to happen. A background check is NOT criminalization of homeless.

Claim 2: Warrant checks means denial of entry and denial of funding

A few members from the faith communities claimed that performing warrant checks will mean denial of entry at the shelter and denial of funding. This is misinformation and they are confusing it with their own rules at the year-round shelter where any individuals without ID or past sex offenses are denied entry into their shelter. They don’t welcome the world even if they preach it.

At a low barrier shelter, individuals facing homelessness can enter without an ID. If they fail criminal background check (that shows criminal/sex offense history) they still get to stay at the low barrier shelter. These checks help alert the surrounding neighborhoods in case there are any high-level sex offenders at the shelter. These checks do NOT mean denial of entry.

Claim 3: CMs Church affiliation and race implications of warrant checks

Many faith community leaders appealed to your emotions saying that Bellevue welcomes the world and stated several scriptures. One faith community leader, vaguely alluded to conversations with CM Zahn and CM Lee at their Aldersgate church, suggesting race related implications due to warrant checks.

There are many good reasons for supporting separation of church and state and I trust that all CMs will ignore such manipulative tactics and do the right thing for people who elected you.

Claim 4: Code of Conduct must not be required in shelter LUCA

This was a surprising request from several faith community leaders. I believe that most if not all religious books have a code of conduct for its followers. In fact, current CFH year-round shelter and low barrier shelter have a code of conduct. They are advocating for lower safety measures for the communities than they have for their churches. Fortunately, David Bowling and Steve Roberts did not echo their sentiment. Please keep the Code of Conduct requirements in the shelter LUCA.

Claim 5: All shelters are safe and buffers are not needed

Many faith community leaders, cited the men’s shelter right next to the preschool and how safe the members felt about leaving their children there. They argued that buffers are not needed because the homeless men are human. They again obscured the fact that the rotating church shelter is not a “low barrier shelter” and that they require IDs, and no past sex offenses and requirements to work with case managers.

Some of the community members emoted that we should open our hearts and welcome everyone in the shelter and that it is sad to see the winter/emergency shelter close and see the men return to the streets. The year-round church shelter had the opportunity to take in the men from low barrier shelter for years and they have never changed their intake policy because NOT all men at the low barrier shelters are “safe”. In this case, their actions speak louder than their testimony.

DM Robinson, CM Zahn, CM Lee and CM Nieuwenhuis, you were all asked by One Bellevue “Would you Avoid Emergency Homeless Shelters near residential and school areas?” You all answered Yes. ( Sensible buffers must be a requirement.

Claim 6: Sophia Way next to a school has had no concerns and buffers are not needed

One lady testified that Sophia Way shelter was next to a preschool and there were no safety concerns there. I agree with her and this ties in with my previous email about setting buffer requirements based on intake criteria. A low barrier men’s shelter must have at least 1000′ buffer zone, however, women, family shelters could have smaller or possibly no buffers.

CM Robertson brought this exact point up at the end of the public hearing. Mayor Chelminiak, it might have been late, but you seem to cut her comment off after asking the council to state if anything was missing in terms of direction to the staff. I strongly urge you to consider the buffer requirements based on the shelters intake criteria (ID, gender, age, warrants, etc.).

Claim 7: Bravern residents had no impact from Lincoln Center low barrier shelter

One person testified that residents at Bravern apartments – the new luxury secured building on the other side of the highway I-405 – had no idea there was a low barrier shelter across the highway and had no negative impact. This may be true, but it is not comparable. The proposed Eastgate location has older unsecured townhomes and condos that are 250ft away unlike the Bravern. There are letters sent to council from Wilburton community and other neighborhoods and auto row businesses about crimes in the area. Please disregard misinformation of zero impact or crime increase from low barrier shelters.

Claim 8: Faith communities deserve 1-2 seats on the Neighborhood committee

Ms. Studders says that faith communities deserve 1-2 seats on the neighborhood committee because they are experts in the field. The goal of the committee is to execute the Good Neighborhood Agreement and it should be a conversation between the operator (who are the real experts) and the surrounding neighborhood residents and businesses. Faith community leaders that are not within the radius and possibly from Kirkland, Issaquah or Seattle have no business in that conversation. I would also like to remind you that in the LUCA survey results, people ranked “faith community involvement” the lowest. Please listen to the local residents and not special interest non-profit groups who should have no business in influencing legislative decisions.

Claim 9: Rotating year-round shelters will discontinue after the new permanent low barrier shelter is built

It always surprising to see CFH bring in homeless individuals to testify on their behalf. Will they bite the hand that feeds and shelters them? This practice should be deservedly frowned upon and CFH should face a harsh penalty if they forced him to testify.

The homeless individual from the CFH year-round shelter, said that he had trouble remembering the dates and where he was because they moved every month between host churches. I sympathize with him, but I hope someone from CFH will tell him that the shelter LUCA will not address his issue with rotating locations. Even after the low barrier permanent shelter is built, I am told that the rotating medium barrier church shelter program will continue its operation and this individual will not be sheltered at the brand new building. If you recall, David Bowling mentioned how an individual from their low barrier shelter moved to the year around church shelter and then toward permanent housing.

Claim 10: Wilburton TOD, the most important TOD in the world, is unworthy of a shelter
A member of the Wilburton TOD CAC, testified that a shelter in the precious Wilburton TOD commercial district will deter the vision created by the CAC. We should all thank Wren for his great work on the CAC and disregard the folks who also worked hard on the Eastgate and other TODs. If you have read this far, I hope you sense my sarcasm. No TOD should trump another TOD or neighborhoods due to a personal relationships or campaign donations. The LUCA must be fair and not give a special exclusion to Wilburton, Spring District or any TODs.

Request 1: Review possible code of ethics violation. An appearance of a conflict of interest

Mike Katterman, a Board member of CFH and was also a staff on Planning department for a long time. Though he was never on a project directly related to the CFH shelter he was assigned to affordable housing TAG where he invited his friends from CFH and Imagine Housing. A while back I had mentioned to the council that there was an appearance of a conflict of interest because CFH was getting a lot of special “gifts” and that there was a CFH Board member on staff. A permanent shelter for men on free public land and a nice new free building with nice new free office space may make sense, but giving it all to CFH to operate without an RFP from other operators did not. I never received a response to this but I later heard that Mike had left CoB and joined another city.

At the hearing, Mike testified, as a Board member of CFH, AGAINST buffers and other safety measures in the draft LUCA along with his other CFH Board member friends. It was evident to me, that he wants an easy path and fewer requirements for his organization that is already benefiting substantially from the special treatment.

Today I learned from Stephanie Walter, current EBCC vice chair and former Planning Commission (PC) chair, that Mike Katterman acted as staff liaison to the PC while they were working on the Eastgate TOD. This was during the same time parallel discussions were going on between CFH and staff about using Eastgate KC parcel as the ONLY site for the CFH low barrier men’s shelter. Why did Mike withhold the homeless shelter details from PC at that time? Why was staff attempting to set up the shelter code under “transient housing” as ACUP when PC specifically asked for CUP? I am not sure if Mike withheld the shelter information under someone’s direction or other reasons, but it is a mystery that PC was purposely kept in the dark. In fact, that time was the perfect opportunity for PC and public involvement and collaboration. When the public asked the council to include the LUC experts from PC in the shelter LUCA, we were told that PC was too busy now with other priorities. Did Mike or some other staffers feel that PC or public involvement would hinder the process back then? Mike/CFH has everything to gain from the shelter LUCA because there is no RFP or competition from other operators for a low barrier men’s shelter. Who decided that there would be no Request for Proposal for the free public land?

I am not making accusations because I don’t have all the information. I struggle to understand how Katterman could objectively and fairly act in the official capacity as an agent of both CFH and City of Bellevue concurrently while being involved in city discussions that attempted to enable favorable land use codes, and allocated public funds and assets to CFH and none of its competitors. It is rare for any city to give away public land to a specific private organization without a bidding process and this is why it doesn’t pass the smell test.

I hope that these questions can be answered in an open and honest way at the local government level. I ask the council to find answers and let the public know as soon as possible. It is your job to ensure no laws or ethics codes are being violated and that the public’s goodwill and assets are not being distributed in a corrupt manner. Public trust is crucial to an effective government.

Request 2: Prioritize Bellevue residents at a public hearing before those from other cities

Ms. Karen Studders did a commendable job and took great pride in organizing the tea party at city hall for the special interest non-profit faith communities from Bellevue and other cities who were able to sign up as a block for the first 2 hours of the hearing. Sadly this attempted to delay the voice of some of the local Bellevue residents and perhaps even caused some of them to leave due to the time of the night. I hope you will find a way to prioritize Bellevue residents to speak first before those from outside the city. Residents from other cities must not be allowed to play games to tire or drown out the local voices. It continues to amaze me how boldly non-profits use their resources and network to influence legislative matters and endanger their non-profit status with IRS.

Thank you for reading.

Best regards,
Tuli Davenport
Bellevue citizen

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

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
  • 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

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 refused to attend the forum, saying it was biased towards people opposed to shelters.


Friday actions for SAFE: protest and press conference


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





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.

















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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


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



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



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.














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SAFE actions and events

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




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




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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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:

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: