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Reprieve for Seattle homeless shelters

Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE) said this afternoon (Aug. 3) that it can avert the looming closure of 11 shelters for a month. The group said in an e-mailed press statement that donors had given $10,500 to allow the shelters to stay open.

“SHARE is grateful to the people of Seattle for their help in keeping these shelters open,” the statement said. “We also thank the Mayor’s Office and the city of Seattle for their attention to this urgent human crisis.”

The group said it is meeting Aug. 4 with senior staff in Mayor Mike McGinn’s administration. They met on Monday and, as The Seattle Times reported, SHARE says it needs help with the cost of discounted bus transportation for residents of its network of 15 shelters and two tent cities. The transportation costs were estimated at $12,000 a month.

The city, according to The Times, provides $300,000 annually to SHARE in a series of installments. SHARE says it needs about $50,000 more per year to maintain its full services, which cover about 500 people nightly. The city is already facing difficult budget decisions for the current budget and next year’s.

Jerry Thomas, an unpaid staff member at SHARE and former member of the board of directors, called the donations “fantastic” but noted the continuing need for support. “We are still in a crisis,” Thomas said. “We still need additional funding from the city.”

He said the ability to provide bus fare to residents ties into commitments to churches and others allowing the homeless to stay on their property. “Eleven of them (the shelters and encampments) are outside the free ride zone,” Thomas said. The organization “gave our word” that it would provide transportation to services and job opportunities downtown, he said, so without bus tickets to give the residents, SHARE would have to close the 11 sites.

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