Street

Regrets

There was a gathering of activists from the faith community yesterday, to meet with the new Mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan. I had two minutes. I blathered, dang it. The one thing I should have said: “Stop sweeping homeless camps if you don’t have options to offer people!” Every day outreach workers and police are identifying places where homeless people have taken up residence. They are given advanced warning (or so we are told) in the hopes that they will…

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Inconvenient

Apparently some folks in local government came to see one of the homeless programs after hours. It must have shook them. Some funding has been restored. It wasn’t our program, so I won’t name them. There’s something about looking into the faces of the people being served – old, physically worn, disabled, broken. This will clear bureaucratic fog, to meet some homeless people at 10:30 at night. Tell us what to tell homeless people at the end of the night…

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Move on

After my interaction last night with a homeless woman, I’m curious about what kind of society we want. Her husband is on dialysis. He lost his job because of this. Which means they lost their place to live. And so they wait. It will take several months to get any disability, and who in the world will rent to them with such limited income, and a black hole in their rental record? I have heard neighborhood people say, “If you…

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Saving a life

One evening out on Capitol Hill, we ran into a guy that I hadn’t seen in at least two years. He was happy to see us doing the same thing he remembered us doing. I was glad to know he was alive, and we spent some time catching up on where he had been the last couple years. He filled me in on the details and then got somber real quick. “You know Ben,” he said, “I still remember that…

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That smile!

I noticed a homeless guy last week. We were moving mats out of storage into a big rental truck, and something about it struck him funny. Maybe because we were a rag-tag group, and not the usual types for manual labor. I could tell we had struck a funny-bone moment, and said something to him. It was a pleasant exchange. Then he was back in a doorway this week. Not doing anything, not camping out. Just hanging. I said hi…

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Socks

One of my favorite things about being out on the street is when we hand someone a pair of socks, and they are so in need of a new pair, they immediately pull their shoes off and change them out, in between words of disbelief and gratitude. ‘55’ was no different. That was the name he gave us, not that one in particular, but a number. We continued chatting for a bit as he took his boot off. He pulled…

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Car camping in the city

When rent gets too high, people often move into their vehicle. It’s portable. Provides more comfort than a tent. But also sometimes can break down. And neighbors seem to hate having homeless people on their block. There are the usual complaints about crime, drugs, litter, defecation, and noise. The City of Seattle is of two minds. Compassion or enforcement? Neighborhood groups are kicking up a fuss – sometimes justifiable. But who is really vulnerable? It’s not like there are options…

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The story of Pedro

Pastor Bob Bradbury was one of the earliest Nightwatch outreach ministers, starting in 1967. He was a classmate of Bud Palmberg, our founder. Pastor Bob passed away in December, 2016, and his widow Jane Ann sent me this amazing story. He told the story on Father’s Day last year – his final sermon. I’m guessing he has told this story many times: The Story of Pedro in 1967 While coming upon First and Pike after midnight, Pastor Bob heard this…

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Psalm from the streets

Even when the knees hurt The hard drive crashes The shelter for 75 vulnerable men is cast into uncertainty; Even when the bank account is low and the car is no longer driveable, the rain is cold and the ice cream is forbidden; Even then, O Lord, will I praise you. Your works are marvelous, revealed in the smile of a stranger on the bus who jostled me here. My pen went awry on the page but the amends were…

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It gets personal

Twice in the last month I’ve run into people who are friends of mine. They are guys who have celebrated holidays at my house, volunteered at Nightwatch, eaten lunch with me numerous times. When I encountered them in their new situation, it was shocking. Immediately, my anxiety level went up. I find myself fretting about how we can help them. One needs medical attention, but has to agree to it. The other could easily live in my basement, if I…

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