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homeless

Doris O'Neal of the YWCA
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Leaders of Seattle and King County declared a state of civil emergency this week – not due to an earthquake or a mudslide, but because of homelessness.

Flickr Photo/Blake Burkhart (Cc-BY-NC-ND)/http://bit.ly/1WmamK7

Ross Reynolds speaks with David Hall, Everett's deputy city prosecutor, about the city's controversial ordinance that treats "aggressive panhandling" as a misdemeanor punishable with jail time. 

Sleepless in Seattle volunteers George Bargoud, Jean (no last name given), Michael Maloy and Amiga Debbie prepared to give out sleeping bags to homeless people in King County.
Courtesy of Eddie Wang

David Hyde speaks with Eddie Wang about a project to get a sleeping bag to every homeless person in King County. 

Navy veteran Donald Lollis said he's been sleeping on the streets for six months. 'They give you an honorable discharge and you just do the best you can. And that's how I've been living.'
KUOW Photo/Posey Gruener

It's 3 a.m. on the first day of a massive free clinic at Seattle Center. Anyone who needs medical, dental or vision care can find help here today — first come, first served. 

An Iraq vet named Ryan Mielcarek addressed the crowd: “By a quick show of hands, do we have any veterans in the audience here today?”

Mielcarek is the South Sound platoon leader with the veteran volunteer group, The Mission Continues. Their goal is to connect with veterans experiencing homelessness, more than 600 in King County according to official estimates.

Seattle City Council District 6 candidates Mike O'Brien and Catherine Weatbrook.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

The candidates for Seattle’s District 6 could not be more Seattle.

Catherine Weatbrook – she used to be a Tubs girl.

Tubs was a shady, windowless establishment in the University District that rented out hot tubs by the hour. It was rumored to be the best place in town to get a urinary tract infection.

The Ballard Urban Rest Stop is having an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mark Trimmer is happy: He’s finally got someplace to wash himself besides the Ballard Library.

That place is the new Urban Rest Stop, opening this month in Ballard. It’s a place for people living on the streets to wash their clothes and take a shower.

As a doctor who provides medical care to Boston's homeless population, James O'Connell and his colleagues are used to working in unusual locations. "We are basically visiting them in their homes, which are often under bridges, down back alleyways [and] on park benches," O'Connell tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It's been an education for us over these years."

Ross Reynolds interviews Dr. Sharon  Sutton who is acting as a mentor  for architecture students at the University of Washington as they put together a workshop to design the Ballard homeless camp on Market Street.

Students will meet with people who will live in the camp, neighbors, and other interest parties to figure out how it should look. Sutton says if the Market Street site is going to work for 52 homes, they will have to be more than one story tall, so tents are out. 

Sawhorse Revolution designed and built this tiny house, with the intent to donate it to the homeless camp known as Nickelsville. The idea is to have tiny houses rather than tents at this new homeless camp in the Central District.
Courtesy of Alec Gardner

"The Nest," as the students call it, is a serious step up from a tent.

There's no plumbing or electricity, but it's watertight, insulated and has walls and a lock. And it was designed with a homeless person in mind.

Ross Reynolds speaks with Brandy Sincyr, a program assistant with Columbia Legal Services and the author of a report counting homeless students in Washington, about why the group thinks schools have been undercounting their homeless students.

Just a couple of blocks off the 210 Freeway in San Bernardino, Calif., about an hour east of LA, rest a whole row of cheap, rundown motels. Some people stay for a night or two, others just by the hour.

But some rooms house families with kids — and these families aren't just stopping in.

This is home for them, at least for now. They've run out of other options for a roof over their heads.

When You're Homeless 'You Learn Who Your Friends Are'

Aug 6, 2015
Many people in the homeless community hang out in Seattle's University District
KUOW

Rogelia Sanchez and Mimansa Dogra share stories from Seattle's homeless community. Join them as they learn about the impact homelessness has on people's lives.

RadioActive is KUOW's program for youth age 16-20ish. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook and Twitter.

A Ballard man snaps a photo Monday night after a public meeting, as he mourns the loss of a tree, cut down recently by the city of Seattle.  The tree was on a vacant lot that may one day host a tent city for the homeless.
KUOW Photo/Feliks Banel

The tree was beloved, they said.

A pretty Korean mountain ash that stood alone on an empty lot for years. It didn’t deserve to be cut down by the city.

This is a tale of two cities. In New Orleans, there are signs of hope that veteran homelessness can be solved. But Los Angeles presents a very different picture.

Under the deafening highway noise of the Pontchartrain Expressway in central city New Orleans, Ronald Engberson, 54, beds down for the night. Engberson got out of the Marines in 1979, plagued even back then by problems with drugs and alcohol. He says that's mostly the reason he's been homeless the past 10 years.

Car camper Jennifer Smith prepares for her move to a woman's shelter. She's one of several homeless men and women who were asked to leave the area near Gasworks Park.  Her RV will be parked safely in a church parking lot in Lake City.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Danny Fletcher lives in a motor home on North Northlake Way near Gas Works Park. He says he feels safer in that than he does sleeping in a shelter.

“It’s more comfy, I have a bedroom, I’ve got a kitchen, I have a living room, and it’s all separate rooms," Fletcher said. "It’s an actual house for me, you know?”

But neighbors have been complaining about campers like this.

Hannah Webb, a resident of Seattle's Tent City 3 in Feb. 2015 on the campus of Seattle Pacific University
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Ross Reynolds talks to Matt Driscoll, columnist for The News Tribune, about why there are no tent cities in Tacoma to serve their homeless population. 

Dawn Brown in a trailer for the documentary 'A New High.'
YouTube

Jeannie Yandel talks with Dawn Brown, a participant in Seattle Union Gospel Mission's program that takes a team of homeless people who are also struggling with addiction up Mount Rainier. Brown's experience is chronicled in a new documentary, "A New High."

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

One day a year, it's a lot easier for homeless people in Snohomish County to get some basic things that you might take for granted. Things like shoes, backpacks or pet care.  

More than a thousand people lined up outside an elementary school in Everett on Thursday to get a little help.

Poet and registered nurse Martha Kreiner says poetry gives her "a wider container" for reflecting on her work with people who are homeless.
Courtesy of Amy Zimmerman

For the past five years, Martha Kreiner, a registered nurse and a poet, has tended to the medical needs of people living on Seattle's streets through the Healthcare for the Homeless network. The death of a patient lead Kreiner to write an elegy for him, in which she re-imagines his final moments:

More than 150,000 U.S. families are homeless each year. The number has been going down, in part because of a program known as Rapid Re-Housing, which quickly moves families out of shelters and into homes.

But new research by the Obama administration finds that for many families, rapid rehousing is only a temporary fix.

Homeless families outside a shelter in downtown Seattle
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Bill Hobson’s radical philosophy was born when he met a 24-year-old woman who was schizophrenic, HIV positive and addicted to crack. And she was pregnant.

It was early in Hobson’s 31-year tenure at the Downtown Emergency Services Center.

Hannah Webb, a resident of Seattle's Tent City 3 in Feb. 2015 on the campus of Seattle Pacific University
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Marcie Sillman speaks with Sola Plumacher of Seattle's Human Services Department about the city's three new proposed sites for city-sponsored tent cities.

Homeless encampment along a road in the Sodo area of Seattle.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

There could soon be new homeless camps in Seattle.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's administration has picked three sites and plans to send them to the City Council for review.

Seattle's Real Change Newspaper Impresses With Pay App

Jun 25, 2015
Robert Surles sells Real Change, Seattle's homeless paper, at First Avenue and Yesler Way.
KUOW Photo/Ashley Stewart

Robert Surles is out on First Avenue and Yesler Way every day.

He’s selling Real Change, Seattle’s homeless newspaper.

When Feeding The Homeless Runs Afoul Of The Law

Jun 13, 2015

Every Tuesday night, Joan Cheever hits the streets of San Antonio to feed the homeless. In a decade, she's rarely missed a night. But on a recent, windy Tuesday, something new happens.

The police show up.

"He says we have to have a permit," Cheever says. "We have a permit. We are a licensed nonprofit food truck."

Cheever runs a nonprofit called the Chow Train. Her food truck is licensed by the city. On this night, she has loaded the back of a pickup with catering equipment and hot meals and driven to San Antonio's Maverick Park, near a noisy downtown highway.

The StoryCorps 'Finding Our Way' event at The Gates Foundation, Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Dodge

Since 2003, the StoryCorps organization has been recording and archiving conversations. Their mission is “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.”

Each interview is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. If you’ve heard even one of the stories, you’ve likely experienced how carefully they get to the heart of the matter.

Seattle's proposed ban would apply to people lighting up tobacco products. Washington state law prohibits marijuana smoking in public places.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Seattle officials want to ban smoking in all public parks, but some opponents say the crackdown would unfairly target homeless people.

A park advisory board will take up the issue for a possible vote Thursday night.

As KUOW's Liz Jones reports, public opinion is mixed.

In this June 20, 2013, file photo provided by Leica, photographer Mary Ellen Mark attends the Leica Los Angeles Grand Opening in Los Angeles.
Leica/Todd Williamson, via AP File

Marcie Sillman speaks with Seattle photographer Alice Wheeler about the photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who died on Monday at age 75. Some of Mark's best-known work documents the lives of 1980s-era Seattle street youth in a photography series for LIFE magazine and later in a documentary film called "Streetwise."

A panhandler in Auburn, Washington.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Many cities around Washington state make it a crime to do things that everyone does but that homeless people have to do in public – like sitting down, sleeping, going to the bathroom or asking for help.

No city has more laws against these activities than Auburn, a southern suburb of Seattle.

Kris Kalberer, right, told daughter Erika: "You are an extremely bright young woman. And you can go to college. And you will go to college."
StoryCorps

About a decade ago, Kris Kalberer left her job as a retail manager to raise her kids and care for her elderly mother.

The family lived a comfortable life on her husband's income … until he lost his job.

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