Saturday, January 7, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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The Reader's View

The dissolving door

Special to The Times

Today, the 10-year plan loses ground

King County's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is an ambitious venture to move from managing homelessness for the vast number of people suffering this pitiable condition in our midst, to solving it by providing enough appropriate, subsidized, permanent housing.

The plan is for 10 years of effort: Find the money, build the housing, and then move people from shelters and transitional programs into it. I'm all for that.

So why has the city of Seattle decided to start eliminating shelters before one brick has been laid for the thousands of new apartments needed? ["Fewer shelter beds to get city funding; advocates troubled," Local News, Dec. 9.]

The Archdiocesan Housing Authority is a shelter, transitional- and permanent-housing provider. Three of our programs, the Sacred Heart Shelter for women and families, the Noel House Shelters for women, and the St. Martin de Porres shelter for older men, recently lost $141,903 in funding from the city of Seattle for next year. Other emergency-shelter providers together have lost twice that much. We expect that these cuts will force us to lay off staff, reduce our programs and send people we shelter back out on the street next April.

St. Martin's and Noel House particularly serve people with disabilities and who have been homeless a long time. City bureaucrats are writing off these individuals as hopeless when they shift shelter money to healthier people with a quicker potential for success.

AHA's shelters are full night after night. We have more than 100 of our shelter residents on subsidized-housing waiting lists at any given time. Residents in our transitional programs are stuck there months after their housing-application approval dates because of inadequate housing supply. Our permanent-housing programs have waiting lists two-years long.

To end homelessness, we need more resources.

The Seattle City Council and Mayor Greg Nickels must make good on their promises to preserve the existing number of shelter beds in the city, at the least. Right now, they aren't showing the money or the will.

The 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness is supposed to be an open door out of homelessness. The Seattle city government is turning it into a trap door for those who can't move along fast enough.

Flo Beaumon writes from the Archdiocesan Housing Authority in Seattle.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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