Watch this space

Changes are coming to People’s Place, including new people posting on the blog, facebook & twitter. Members are still working towards permanent housing and volunteers and donations are needed.

Watch this space for more information–and thanks for all your support!

April 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm Leave a comment

Friday Homeless Headline Roundup

First Step to Help–Learn About Homeless Families Invisible Homeless Kids

Street Papers Do More Than Report the News

Transforming Public Housing into Supportive Communities Homelessness Ends Here

News Flash: The Poor Do Pay Taxes

April 16, 2010 at 8:08 am Leave a comment

Perspectives on the proposed “aggressive panhandling” ordinance

The Seattle City Council is poised to adopt a proposal to crack down on “aggressive panhandling” in downtown Seattle. Seen by many as political posturing, this proposal has created a great deal of controversy and generated attention about the issue of homelessness and poverty in Seattle.

Unfortunately, much of this attention is in the form of negative comments stereotyping the poor. Fortunately, there are some strong voices of support for the homeless.

Here are just a few of the current headlines :

Lawmakers Slam Burgess’ Aggressive Solicitation Law The Stranger/Slog

Three District Democratic Groups Vote to Oppose Burgess’ Bill The Stranger/Slog

Anti-Solicitation Ordinance Moves Towards Vote RealChange news (If you like their website, you’ll love the print paper. Look for vendors all over Seattle. Support RealChange!)

The Law That Targets “Strange” People on the Street The Stranger

Human Wrongs The Stranger

Don’t succumb to anger and fear Seattle PI blog

Nearly 4 out of 5 Seattle voters like anti-panhandling bill Seattle Times

Proposed street-disorder law useful step to ensure street civility Seattle Times

Opponents assail panhandler limits Seattle Times

April 15, 2010 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

Friday Homeless Headline Roundup

Update on Housing Bills in WA State RealChange (Cydney Gillis provides amazing coverage of Olympia news!)

Gov. Gregoire vetoes section of GAU Bill RealChange (another Cydney Gillis piece)

Trauma-Informed Services Homeless Resource Center (This is a topic we’ve explored a great deal in People’s Place. I’m excited to see others discuss it!)

Housing First PBS video (warning, auto-plays when you click the link)

Only One Homeless Person Left in Times Square NY Times

Reason we need affordable housing — another outstanding individual profile presented by Mark Horvath of

The AP Thinks Poor People Are Freeloaders

New HUD Funding Western Mass Housing First

April 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm Leave a comment

Six months and counting?

People’s Place formed in October 2009 when a group of homeless couples, pet owners, and families were forced to relocate from Nickelsville after the Port of Seattle evicted the encampment. The group started with 43 people, none of whom were aware of being eligible for any other housing.  The group stayed in weekly motels and met with volunteer advocates to review options. Emergency medical needs were addressed and referrals were made to social service programs.

With advocacy, support, and generous support from donors, 25 members found housing–with family, live/work arrangements, and independent living. One couple stayed in the motel long enough that they moved to the top of the waitlist for permanent subsidized housing. Other members moved back to tent cities.

On New Year’s Day–1/1/10–seven members moved into a rental house. The landlord was willing to take a risk with a new social service organization and opened her newly remodeled property to the group–including Buddy the dog. Members have been making progress towards housing, employment, addressing health issues, reuniting with family, and other personal goals. The organization has been making progress, building credibility with other agencies, fund raising, grant writing, etc.

Please help us continue this progress. We are out of money and out of time. We need $800 to pay April rent. Every donation helps.

Click here to support People’s Place. Type “People’s Place” in the designation box to make sure your donate goes to us.

El Centro de la Raza is our fiscal sponsor. All donations are tax deductible.

Thank you.

April 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Friday Homeless Headline roundup

“Top” panhandlers say their job is making people smile RealChange

Update on progress for WA State programs to help low/no income people Real Change

Life After Homelessness: Learning to Leave Violence Behind

The Media Isolates Homeless People

Using TANF to End Family Homelessness National Alliance to End Homelessness

Community Court Active in West Seattle West Seattle Herald

Latest news on neighborhood fight to prevent construction of housing for homeless Seattle Times (background story here and here)

April 2, 2010 at 9:43 am Leave a comment

Respecting choices; encouraging health

Food means a lot to people. It’s a basic necessity for survival, yes–and it’s a connection with our childhood, our culture, our religion, the part of the world we call home, and so much more. People show affection through food–for others and for ourselves.  Food can also be about controlling our environment–when all else feels like it is imposed from the outside, at least we can choose what we put in our mouths.

People’s Place members shop and cook together.  They share many (though not all) meals. Each individual has personal preferences for coffee creamer, brand of peanut butter, and food in general.  The group includes two members with Type II diabetes and three members with high blood pressure. The medical providers involved in their care recommend diets low in processed food, high in fresh produce, and moderate in calories.  Meals in the house do not reflect these recommendations.

Members understand the recommendations and take responsibility for their choices. They are honest and direct about why they make the food choices they do: it’s what they know, and what they like. Most importantly, it’s their choice. Most of our members have been homeless for some time. They have spent time eating exclusively from food banks and meal programs, finding their choices very limited.  Now that they have food security and access to a kitchen, they are going to eat what they want. It’s that simple.

The “slow food” and local food movements are not including representatives from poor communities–or at least not including representatives who feel empowered to say “I don’t trust an organic label” or “I prefer fried chicken to salad”. If we’re going to see significant change in our nation’s health statistics, we’re going to have to improve outreach and communication in poor communities. Programs such as Solid Ground’s Operation Frontline are a good start. ran a post recently with the headline “Closing the Grocery Gap” . It describes so-called “food deserts”–communities lacking grocery stores or other places to buy fresh, healthy food. Many of these communities are in poor urban areas, but rural areas often lack accessible markets, as well. This lack of access has created a food culture based on what’s available in mini-marts and fast food stands.

One suggestion many researchers and activists suggest is attracting farmer’s markets or specialty markets to underserved areas.   A common response to this idea is, “Farmer’s markets are too expensive!”  Here’s a breakdown of Farmer’s Market vs. Grocery store prices (link goes to the Seattle Farmer’s Market site It compares organic produce prices at grocery chains & local farmer’s markets and shows significant savings.

I’m not going to address the inability of farmer’s markets to accept electronic payment (including EBT/food stamp cards) here–but it is one significant reason many low income people don’t visit from farmer’s markets.  Let’s look a the price comparison more closely.  Excuse the pun, but this is really comparing apples and oranges.  Well, technically, it’s comparing apples grown conventionally with organic apples.  Low income people don’t usually shop organic. Partially this is a financial decision (organic is often–though not always–more expensive) but it’s also not part of their food culture.

While journalists like Michael Pollan, nutritionists, health care providers, and politicians publish papers and hold rallies about reducing obesity, lowering diabetes rates, and improving health through better diet and exercise, those living below the poverty line are passing over organic cheese at the food bank.  If you spend time at food banks and/or providing services to low income and homeless residents, observe the choices customers make.  Listen to their conversations about the food offered.  Ask questions; engage. Why do so many people overlook the free range beef for the conventional beef? Is it packaging? What do they think the label means?

How can we mainstream health? How can we respect individual choices and decisions while working to improve overall community health outcomes?

March 31, 2010 at 5:11 pm Leave a comment

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