A Difficult Choice



I was invited to join Pastor Sandy Brown and a number of his parishioners as they served dinner last night at First United Methodist Church on 2nd & Denny.  They had prepared a lovely meal for eighty men, and I stopped in carrying ten loaves of bread.

After serving a spaghetti dinner, I joined a table and heard stories from several men who now have beds and lockers at the church thanks to a collaborative effort between the church and the Compass Center. The men greatly appreciate the facility at FUMC — it is clean, well-organized, and respectful.  Some of the men have day jobs which will allow them to get into their own places soon, but others are struggling.

One discussion topic elicited nods from around the table, and was particularly notable.  There are few locations in Seattle where a man with a night job or swing shift can find a shelter bed at the end of his shift. One exception, the Bunkhouse in southeast Seattle, is run by SHARE.

If the men are not in queue for a bed early in the evening, most shelters lock their doors and do not admit late-comers.  This is understandable because most shelters admit only those who have been pre-screened and identified early in the evening.  But the men told me that this fact alone — that they must be in line early in the evening to find a bed for the night — means that they cannot accept a job on a second shift or night shift because it means having to choose between a place to sleep or a place to work.

Pastor Brown told me they are open to having a 24-hour shelter but this requires additional staffing and funding. It’s time to welcome discussions with Nick Licata, Bill Block, Bill Hobson and other homeless advocates to help address this problem.

In the meantime, if you’d like to volunteer at FUMC to assist with meal preparation or to serve as an overnight monitor, click here.

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