Put a Face to Our Homelessness Crisis

Tent City 3?

As shared in recent articles, representatives of three UUC social justice groups – the Social Justice Steering Committee, Teen Feed, and our collaboration with Lake City Partners – are exploring the possibility of UUC hosting SHARE’s Tent City 3 in the next year.

Seattle, like many cities around the country, has a homelessness crisis. We witness this every day, with many in our community living in cars, tents, RVs, shelters and tiny house villages. The causes of homelessness are many, with the primary ones our country’s underinvestment in affordable housing for decades, along with Seattle’s increased population and unaffordable rents. Exacerbating factors include lack of  community mental health services and lack of treatment options for people suffering from drug addiction and challenges for people escaping sexual abuse, battering and domestic violence.

In the face of these big, seemingly overwhelming societal issues, it’s too easy to dehumanize the individuals suffering from homelessness. But our First Principle, affirming “the inherent worth of every individual,” calls us to see homeless folks in the street and in encampments, whether sanctioned by the city or not, as our neighbors, individuals whose stories can teach us something and inspire us to build a better world.

To live up to the 1st Principle, we can look to the example of local Fremont architect Rex Holbein. A decade ago Rex spoke from UUC’s pulpit to share some of his photos of homeless people and their stories, and urged members of our congregation to “Just Say Hello” when we encounter a homeless person on the street.  Since then he has founded Facing Homelessness,  a non-profit that “believes that we can and will end homelessness when we inspire and engage community members to be a part of the solution”.

Rex suggests that we can “begin by first seeing the homelessness crisis as a symptom of a larger community crisis,” and stop looking at our homeless neighbors as the “other”. He suggests that when we see a “community crisis” we include ourselves as part of the issue.

There is no reason for us to be spectators in the face of homelessness when we hold the most important tool for healing, and that is loving.

Rex Holbein

The many stories on Facing Homelessness enable us to begin linking faces and stories to this community crisis. We invite you to read more about Sheryl and her pup, Two Paws, along with Lacey and Billy. We hope these stories serve as an invitation to begin creating relationships, building beloved community and lovingly looking for the possibility that Tent City 3 may offer a new window into our 1st Principle.

Bring your curiosity, questions or concerns to the Zoom information session on Tuesday, September 27. Or stop by the Tent City 3 Learning Station (check announcements for location either lower floor atrium or Nathan Johnson Hall) for conversation before or after each service in upcoming weeks.

Questions? Please contact Dave Mentz or Sallie Dacey.