“It takes a society to combat homelessness, and a strong nation to fight poverty.” – Wayne Chirisa, Director of Operations at Chirisa Business Solutions
Everett, WA Considering City’s First Sanctioned Homeless Camp
The number of homeless settlements across the country continues to rise. According to a 2018 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) report titled Understanding Encampments of People Experiencing Homelessness and Community Responses, the primary reason encampment areas are preferred by the homeless are due to safety concerns.
According to the HUD report, those encampments “can create both real and perceived challenges for the people who stay in them as well as for neighbors and the broader community. As community leaders seek to develop and deploy a response, they often are called on to balance multiple, sometimes competing priorities and demands from a diverse group of stakeholders, including community residents, business owners, public health and safety officials, and advocates for disadvantaged populations – as well as the people living in the encampments.”
Everett, Washington is currently considering its first sanctioned homeless camp to be located in the parking lot of United Church of Christ which already hosts a free food program for the homeless called Hand Up Project run by Robert Smiley. King 5 News covered the story, noting the camp could have room for up to 80 people, but due to social distancing regulations church leaders are targeting only 8 people at a time.
Liz Vogel, Everett Councilwoman, is an avid supporter of the encampment and has been trying to fast-track city approval from the normal estimated 45-days down to seven days. Due to community concerns, her fellow council members denied that request. Now the decision is in the hands of Everett’s planning director who is planning on taking at least six weeks to make a decision.
As other cities consider homeless encampments, the questions they need to ask to gauge community responses, according to the 2018 HUD report, are as follows:
- What are community members’ expectations regarding responses to unsanctioned encampments in their neighborhoods and approaches to resolving them?
- How are community members’ responses shaped by stigma or bias related to race, homelessness, poverty, mental health needs, and substance use?
- How do community members respond to sanctioned encampments, and are factors present that determine whether sanctioned encampments experience more or less acceptance?
- What strategies can public and private agencies use to keep community members informed of their approaches to assist people living in encampments?
To watch the King 5 news video about the Everett, WA story, click here.
We, at Sheltering Grace, have a heart for the homeless mothers and babies we serve and welcome donations to support the ministry we provide for them. Please contact us at 678-337-7858 to learn how you can help. Each mother and baby will be truly grateful for your kindness.
Sheltering Grace Ministry, Ltd. is a 501(c)3 Ltd. non-profit ministry. We resolve the initial crisis of homelessness by providing mothers with a safe place to live during pregnancy. We also equip them with the tools they need to improve decision-making, enhance employment options, and increase family income to act responsibly as the head of their household. All of our services develop their self-reliance to progress to permanent independent living. Please join us in renewing and rebuilding the lives of these brave women – #Be1of5000.