Eastside has a human services crisis | Letter
February 13, 2013 · 5:32 PM
Regarding the recent letter “Panhandling article puts a face to homelessness” by Ms. Lisa Siegfried. Nice letter Lisa. I am the homeless friend that Lisa spoke of and I have been homeless on the streets of the Eastside since May 1, 2010.
In my view it is unfortunate that so many give credence to the One Night Count because what is so very often left out of broadcasting the result … is the fact that the count only represents some unknown percentage of those who are actually homeless on the streets in some form (i.e. sleeping literally on the streets/sidewalks/park benches, camping, couch surfing, car camping, riding a bus all night, tent cities, etc.).
Among other things, the One Night Count makes “shadow people” out of those who are not factored into the equation.
Using the 2013/2012 One Night Count figures for the Eastside, it shows a 43 percent (i.e. 197/138) increase in Eastside homelessness over a one-year period.
But the story that is not mentioned is that there is a very realistic potential that there are 10 times that many people homeless on the Eastside (i.e. Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah, Factoria)! If the percentage is unknown how can one say that there is a realistic potential for there to be 10 times the 197 counted?
It is an extrapolation of figures that I come in contact with because I am active in the homeless community on the Eastside (i.e. number of families seeking housing who have been turned away by Hopelink, times two, plus the 158 homeless children, times two, identified to be in the Bellevue School District, plus the numbers in the Tent Cities, plus the numbers of unduplicated homeless people serviced by local social service agencies, plus the numbers of homeless that are relatively known to be in various cities of the Eastside, and so on).
It is an extrapolated estimate to be certain, but one can also be certain that there are far, far, far more homeless people on the Eastside than 197 citizens. I’m out here … I see many of them who have seen many others and I have talked with many of them who have talked with others.
Given that many of the homeless “recovery programs” are little more than a facade to get funding, one question among others that I would like an answer to is: If a nonprofit, or some other agency, is dependent on having homeless people for their own survival … what is their incentive to actually get homeless people off the street and into some form of self-sufficiency?
The Eastside has a human services crisis in the making as many of you will literally see if the way “things are being done” aren’t turned around.
James Sanderson, homeless on the Eastside