"City Hall is a nice, brand-new building, and they don't want us there," grumbled a scruffy SHARE resident in a dark baseball cap, standing on the library's sidewalk. Others complained that Nickels, who just three months ago canned a bustling meal program for the homeless at a downtown city park (he quickly reversed his decision after it garnered bad press), is out of touch with Seattle's otherwise accommodating attitude toward the homeless.
Indeed, despite the council members' letter, and a meeting with SHARE members, the mayor's staff shut down the shelter request: The city hall space wouldn't work, they explained, because it couldn't be secured and didn't have the proper facilities, despite council members' opinions to the contrary. Nickels' office essentially told the residents to hike back to the Queen Anne church and cram in with a shelter that recently displaced them.
That's just not practical, SHARE staffers explain. While the Sacred Heart church has welcomed SHARE for nearly five years, space has been tight since a 50-member Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) group took over the cafeteria three months ago, bumping SHARE's own 50 residents to classrooms that are no longer available. Technically speaking, SHARE could join DESC in the cafeteria, but "we'd be packed like sardines in there," says a resident who declined to give his name. The space is well suited for 50 people, but not 100.
So tonight, SHARE's residents decided to sleep on alternate city property: a rideshare parking lot under I-5. "If the mayor cannot help facilitate us staying on [City Hall's] Level Two, he should not arrest us for staying together and safe outside," SHARE wrote in a flyer handed out to curious passersby. The cops didn't break up the illegal shelter, but SHARE's displaced residents didn't sleep well. "The could at least offer us alternatives," Mark says. "There's space available. It just takes a leader to get the keys to open it up."