January 4, 2017
Waking up and still having our shoes within reach is something many of us take for granted. But for those who are homeless it is not so simple.
Many people experiencing homelessness have told me that whether they are in shelters or on the streets, they must sleep with one eye open, otherwise their clothes, their backpack, their basic essentials may very well be gone in the morning.
So, add to the trauma and instability of homelessness, the effects of sleep deprivation and the loss of the very things that matter to you.
I have been working for the past several years to address this problem, which is the reality many who are living unsheltered struggle with daily. The solution seemed so simple to me but proved to be elusive.
In 2014 I coauthored an Op-Ed with Council President Bruce Harrell detailing why lockers should be installed citywide.
Models are available to address the problem and we now have available funding.
Last spring I traveled to San Francisco to visit the Navigation Center, a facility that offers a range of social services including addiction treatment, overnight shelter, mental health services and casework. I’ve written about this before and you can read it here.
The Navigation Center has worked to limit the barriers people face when entering the shelter system, focusing on the importance of addressing the three P’s: Possessions, Pets, and Partners.
We are now taking similar efforts in Seattle.
Today I was pleased to join community members in Uptown to celebrate the installation of 100+ storage lockers for the residents at the Roy Street Shelter. The shelter, which opened in the Fall of 2015, accommodates 100 elderly and disabled men.
A year ago, the Uptown neighborhood leaders hosted a community breakfast for the residents of the Roy Street Shelter so they could meet their housed neighbors. I was invited, and during the breakfast, I met many of the men staying at the shelter. Once again I heard how critical having a space to store their belongings was to each person.
Rick Hooper and other community leaders heard this message loud and clear and set about finding a way to secure storage for the Roy Street Shelter.
When we gathered in the Roy Street Shelter this morning we applauded the coordinated efforts by Uptown neighbors, DESC, the Queen Anne Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and many other neighborhood leaders to provide needed individual storage lockers for the men in the shelter
The lockers are now available for every person in the shelter and are stored close under their bunks.
Special thanks to Reverend Doug Early and the generous congregation of the Queen Anne Presbyterian Church donated the funds to buy 100 storage units for roughly $2,500; and thanks to Rick Hooper who applied to the Home Depot Foundation (for more information about their grant program follow this link) for a grant to buy locks for the bins, costing about $900. The final estimated total cost per bin equipped with locks is $35.
These lockers are not the first of their kind. Blaine Center at the First United Methodist Church provide lockers for every person staying in that shelter. Other institutions including DESC offer lockers as well, but city wide there aren’t enough to accommodate every shelter.
And there’s more good news: During our most recent budget process I championed an effort to designate $200,000 for lockers, and that money is available now.
If you or your organization would be interested in submitting a proposal for a grant to provide lockers or storage for people experiencing homelessness on your site, you can do so right now.
Please see the Human Services Department’s webpage on Bridging the Gap Request for Proposal.
Let this be a challenge, and expand this community-centered model citywide. With the modest $3500 investment, the Roy Street Shelter is greatly improving the lives of 100 people who need our support. Please let me know if you do something similar on site so I can showcase your efforts too.