- I took a picture of these many-times-taped glasses at the counter of 1811 rather than taking a picture of anyone living there.
This is how it works at 1811 Eastlake. Unlike at any other shelter in Seattle or almost anywhere, at 1811 Eastlake you don't have to stop drinking in order to stop being homeless—which means you're safer, which means you land in the emergency room less often, and which means that maybe, eventually, you might actually be able to start dealing with your habit. 1811 Eastlake is one of those rare common-sense public service projects. The kind that conservatives would say is downright Canadian. You know, the kind that work. This single little program, which opened in 2005 and houses 75 hardcore, formerly homeless alcoholics—people referred in according to how many public services they use at places like the Harborview ER and the Sobering Center—saved taxpayers $4 million in its first year alone, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this past April.
And when HUD secretary and Jon Bon Jovi pal Shaun Donovan mentioned 1811 Eastlake in a speech, Bon Jovi decided to take a tour of 1811 Eastlake since he'd be in Seattle anyway for the kickoff Friday night of the world tour for his new album. (Key Arena, sold out.)
- There are several necklaces under there, including one with black beads, and yet somehow, he did not look remotely like a jackass.
We asked him the basics: why homelessness ("I don't need a scientist to invent the cure; it just takes money and determination, so this is something I can make a difference in"), why philanthropy (he founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation in 2006 to help poor and homeless people; good deeding became an interest "for real for real for real"—after years of obligatory photo ops and celeb benefits—because it's time to do something "instead of sitting in hotel rooms like I have for the last quarter century").
This was the first stop on "a factfinding mission" he'll keep doing in other cities on his tour, looking for models for JBJ Soul Foundation. He came across as smart and unsimplistic. "Not everyone is suffering at the entry level," he said, seemingly referring almost sheepishly to the fact that his past work helping mothers and families get housed in Philadelphia was maybe easier than what they do at 1811 Eastlake, where the residents are "advanced" in the backwards, disease sense of the word.
Like a politician, he dropped the name of a guy he'd met: Ed, a vet, who after years on the street, finally started sobering up at 1811 Eastlake. "We're all people in this together," Bon Jovi said. "None of us are able to rely on the private sector as an island or the government. It's only grassroots up." This woman is his hero.
Here's a recording of the whole 11-minute group hug. (Yes I did make that "Livin' on a Prayer" joke. And later I told Bon Jovi that I went to see him at Saratoga Springs when I was 13 years old, despite the fact that the night before, I fell down a 9-foot dry well and was entirely covered in abrasions from which I still have scars. I did not tell him that I do a mean karaoke "Livin' on a Prayer." "Mean" as in I mean it. I am not fooling.)
All the photos I could snap without feeling like a big jerk (how do shooters of living beings do it?) on the jump.