For years, a network of nonprofit agencies and faith-based organizations has done what it can to ensure east Pierce County’s homeless are taken care of.
Though short-term housing has been available for some, there is still not a permanent shelter in Puyallup and east Pierce County.
“If you’re a homeless adult, you are forced to be living an existence of being illegal — being outcast in your own community,” said Ted Brackman,
co-founder of the Puyallup Homeless Coalition. “When you are engaged in the basic life-sustaining activity like sleeping, you are illegal. By statute, the message to our homeless neighbors and citizens is we have no place for you. You don’t belong here. Go away.”
This “humanitarian crisis,” as it is being described, has inspired Brackman and others to present a public seminar in Pioneer Park called “Real Solutions for People without Homes.”
The program will start at 6:30 p.m. May 15 in Pioneer Park. It will include presentations by several experts. Speakers include Sumner native Tristia Bauman, a senior attorney from Washington, D.C. with the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty; Sara Rankin, an associate law professor at Seattle University School of Law; Wes Howard-Brook, a biblical scholar and theology professor at Seattle University; and Paul Boden, an organizer and activist with Western Regional Advocacy Project in San Francisco.
The seminar will point to research showing cities such as Denver, Salt Lake City and San Francisco have proven it’s, on average, 50 percent cheaper to house the homeless than to police the homeless, Brackman said.
A good example of an affordable housing model that could be applied in Puyallup is The Quixote Village in Olympia, he said. Brackman and others are making city leaders aware of this model.
Following the seminar, tents will be put up in the park and people will be invited to sleep over “to punctuate in a symbolic way the crisis that exists if you’re a homeless adult in the city or surrounding area,” Brackman said.
Brackman anticipates arrests will be made. This civil resistance action is something Brackman said he is willing to advocate for until affordable housing is made available to the homeless.