146. Tacoma, Washington Chokes off Aid to Homeless forcing Shelter Closure

Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

In the news the other day I am saddened to see another shelter of the Homeless being threatened. This time it is in Tacoma, Washington. Tacoma is well known as being a national leader in being tough on Homeless Persons. Whenever I think of Tacoma, I think of good old Tom Tuttle from Tacoma from the movie Volunteers. Every time I think of Tacoma, I think of John Candy’s goodly character that joins the Peace Corps to do good in the world and singing “Fight, Fight Fight for Washington State…”. The City of Tacoma is quite the opposite well when it comes to doing good on their own streets.

An excerpt from Crosscut.com quotes Tacoma’s Anti Panhandling Law as:

To be technical, Tacoma’s law isn’t an absolute ban – that wouldn’t be constitutional. But it’s pretty darn close.

Consider the elements. Panhandling is not allowed within 15 feet of the following places citywide: building entrances, ATMs, bus stops, parked cars, pay phones, gas stations, car washes, and outdoor cafes. It’s not allowed at any time on buses. And you can’t panhandle at intersections, freeway ramps, or in any way directed toward traffic. Finally, just to show that begging really isn’t welcome in Tacoma, it’s prohibited everywhere from dusk to dawn. Period.

It’s a heavy set of restrictions that, while still allowing panhandling in very limited circumstances, has put an enormous damper on street solicitation in just the past few months.

Now that the City of Tacoma managed that issue look what they are allowing to happen now.

According to the Tribune News of Tacoma:

The Martin Luther King Housing Development Association is getting out of the business of running a homeless shelter.

The board of directors of the nonprofit – which operates men’s and women’s overnight shelters in downtown Tacoma – voted last week to notify the City of Tacoma of its intent to leave the shelter business, a move that was foreshadowed last month by Executive Director Felix Flannigan.

Kevin Phelps, the former Tacoma city councilman and current association board member, said the organization wants to focus on its core mission of developing housing for at-risk and low-income individuals.

I respect those wishes but there were some other pressures placed on them as follows:

The decision was not solely related to the apparent failure of a pair of grant applications, Phelps said. A citizens commission recommended not awarding a pair of federal block grants totaling $135,000.

The organization never received enough grant funding to operate the shelter and was forced to subsidize it with money from its other programs, Phelps said. The nonprofit also felt stung by a lawsuit from a neighboring property that contends the shelter and its users are a nuisance, he said.

The neighboring property is a Parking Lot that would not care if they paneled the interior of the Homeless Shelter, put in Bar Stools, and Beer Taps, and had the new customers paying for parking and peeing in the parking lot.

The lawsuit states:

A downtown property owner is suing the nonprofit association,claiming the organization has not done enough to stop the homeless who congregate outside from harassing people who use a nearby parking lot. The plaintiff, BRC Associates, also blames people drawn to the shelter for vandalism, trafficking drugs, and urinating and defecating in a parking lot.

A trial was scheduled to start Monday, but was postponed at the last moment. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Rosanne Buckner recused herself because she has a view of the shelter from her office, said attorney James Krueger.

Gee Vandalism, Trafficking Drugs? One has to be sober to get into the shelter! Where have we seen the Homeless being hauled in to court for being drug trafficking king pins? Hmmm what is the arrest rate outside the shelter? Seems non existent for the needy. They want a shower and a bed not trouble outside the shelter. Urinating and Defecating? I seriously doubt it. The Judge across the street might have reported bared bottoms and drug dealing from her office windows. Harassing People? the City of Tacoma has only cited one Homeless Person in the past year under their panhandling law! If there was an issue, Tacoma of all cities would have cracked down on that parking lot with a SWAT team.

This could also be just a persecutor lawsuit also based on the fact the owners of the adjacent property do not like the fact that there is a Homeless Shelter adjacent to their property. The Homeless Shelter has been at its present site for the last 10 years. This Shelter provides 92 beds of which 25 of these beds serve Homeless Women as well.

As I have written in the Who is Counting series of articles, the number of Emergency Homeless Shelters in this country have decreased in the last Ten Years. According to HUD, the Emergency Shelter system is where they also gather the majority of their annual data on homelessness in this nation. With another shelter threatened with closure, HUD will be able to announce yet again that homelessness in this country will have decreased due to the fact there will yet be another place where they homeless were once counted and surveyed closed. This will also lower the data on Veteran Homeless data that will be collected. Remember HUD lost over 35% of the Homeless Veterans data in this nation and the VA then declared homelessness among veterans dropped by 40%.

In the Tacoma article as well as I have noticed in the National League of Cities survey regarding how cities deal with homelessness: The City of Tacoma and as most other cities refuse to deal with issues of Homelessness and foist the responsibility for local aid on Church and Charity. Now a Citizens Commission has the power to withhold in Tacoma aid to Charities vis a vis the Homeless the Federal Grants, this means even more that compassion and Christ like values have left Tacoma.








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2 Responses to “146. Tacoma, Washington Chokes off Aid to Homeless forcing Shelter Closure”

  1. May 8, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Looks like the wheels of government have gone flat in Tacoma.

  2. 2 phoenix31756
    August 12, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Just another screwed up excuse to save money and the elected officials hindquarters from the public they so-called serve.

    When is Enough, Enough ?

    We need UNITY among all veterans and a Leader to follow that all will Respect, and not some dip-shit that dresses like a clown.

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