Seattle: If this were your living room, what art would you put in it?

By Kate Clark | The Seattle Times


Anyone driving through Seattle these days knows that buildings are in constant flux. That holds especially true for the third floor of King Street Station, which over the last century has gone from bustling to barren.

In the early 1900s, the floor was full of Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroad employees.

In the 1970s, Amtrak ruled the space, and by the 1990s it was occupied by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Although later the space was empty for years, the company didn’t sell it to the city until 2008.

The third floor’s stripped-down concrete floors, brick walls, exposed ceiling and big old windows set it apart from the grandiose marble adorning the rest of the station, but they do make it a good setting for art.

Last August, after restoration and a seismic retrofit, Vital 5 productions took out a one-year lease and invited the public to the top floor for the first time for “Out of Sight,” which showcased regional artists concurrent with the Seattle Art Fair last summer and then the recently closed“Giant Steps,” a show of works that could be transported and built on the moon.

A sale to a company that was going to fill it wall to wall with digital servers didn’t come through.

Now it’s empty. But new tenants are on the way.

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) will move into the space, with plans to occupy about 3,000 of the third floor’s total 17,000 square feet.

ARTS will host meetings over the next six months to determine how the rest of the space should be used. The only requirement is that the mission of the space be grounded in the creative arts. The first of these meetings is Tuesday, the 110th anniversary of the station’s opening.

Randy Engstrom, Office of Arts & Culture director, says one of the main reasons his agency became interested in the space is the finding that the greatest barrier to artists from underrepresented communities is lack of access to exhibit space.

“At the end of the day, I think that community engagement and equity work is an act of strategy rather than an act of compliance,” he said. “I think if we do an effective job of making the maximum amount of people feel ownership over this space, this space has the best chance of being successful. I want everyone in Seattle to feel like this place is their living room.”

ARTS will work with Artists Up, which supports artists of color and immigrant and refugee artists, and also nearby neighborhood associations.

Engstrom wants these conversations to continue once the arts hub is established, using the space as a center not just for art but also for civic dialogue.

“There are a lot of big intractable challenges our city is wrestling with,” Engstrom said. “I think that has led people to ask, ‘Why are we doing this with this building when we could be making it into a homeless shelter or hiring more police?’ … But what I hope is that we can engage our community in those conversations: how do we tackle homelessness, how do we make Seattle more inclusive?”

Another benefit to developing the hub is the positive message it will send to station visitors, ARTS communications manager Erika Lindsay explained.

“It sends a message of who the city is and what our messages are,” Lindsay said.

“It will add to the vibrancy,” said Lisa Dixon of the Alliance for Pioneer Square. “The arts piece will definitely draw people down, but it’s the biggest transit hub in the city, and for so many people to have access via public transit to an art hub is really exciting.”

ARTS will be using its existing budget, which draws from the city’s admission tax, for the move in January 2017.

‘Craft your world around you’: SIFFX explores the future of virtual reality

By Kate Clark | The Seattle Times

While Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) is appealing to Seattle’s tech population with a new four-day sub-festival focused on virtual reality (VR), SIFFX isn’t just for technologists.

Joe Chen, the executive technical producer of VRSE, a Los Angeles virtual reality studio, says for VR to reach its full potential, it needs artists.

“It isn’t just about information and technology, this is ultimately a new medium; we need not only technologists, but creatives,” said Chen, who will speak at SIFFX on June 3. “It takes some pretty bold artisan pioneers and technology working together to explore what VR is capable of.”

SIFFX, which starts at 7 p.m. Thursday (June 2) at The Dome at the Pacific Science Center, will show off several VR projects, augmented reality (AR) and 360° immersion. If you’re new to VR, it’s the re-creation of an environment, real or imagined. It’s designed to make you feel like you have ownership over what you are watching. You are effectively the camera operator, the director and the actor — an immersive viewing experience.

“You are empowered to craft your world around you,” Chen said. “VR offers incredible intimacy at mass scale.”

The festival will feature screenings, panels and talks at The Dome and the SIFF Film Center. The VR/AR exhibits, where you can try out a VR headset, will be nearby at theX Gallery and the Nonny de la Peña Pavilion at 305 Thomas St. You can buy tickets for any of these on SIFFX’s website.

Go underwater with dolphins in James Nestor and Sandy Smolan’s “The Click Effect,” see if you can handle VR horror with James Kaelan and Blessing Yen’s “The Visitor,” or visit Syria’s displaced children in “Project Syria” by Nonny de la Peña,

Among the panels are “Feminism 360º,” “The Ethics of VR: In & Around It” and “Making is Thinking: Introduction to Cinematic and Journalistic VR.”

The speakers include Tom Furness, the “Grandfather of VR” and founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington, and de la Peña, called the “Godmother of Virtual Reality,” known for her work integrating VR and journalism.

Chen and Kel O’Neill, a VR filmmaker, will talk at noon Thursday at The Dome about 360º cinematography and VR storytelling.

“It’s that sense of being in South Sudan or in Tokyo or in Ukraine,” Chen added. “When you actually feel like you are there, even with something as simple as looking around, it creates your own experience.”


New ‘loop system’ makes all of Seattle Rep hearing-accessible

By Kate Clark | The Seattle Times

Following in Town Hall Seattle’s footsteps, Seattle Repertory Theatre has installed a fully looped assistive listening system. The wireless technology transmits speech or music on stage directly to guests’ cochlear implants or hearing aids equipped with a T-coil, a small coil of wire inside a hearing device that is designed to pick up a magnetic signal.

The hearing-loop system replaces the more common but less effective infrared system, which used invisible light beams to carry sound from the stage to a personal receiver.

That system worked only when patrons were in line-of-sight relation with the stage; if they turned away, they might hear static, and the infrared system would not work when they were in other parts of the theater — concession stand, concierge desk or coat check.

“The Seattle Rep is kind of the heart of the arts and cultural universe here in Seattle — so much discussion about social issues takes place at the Seattle Rep,” said Cheri Perazzoli, the director of advocacy for the Hearing Loss Association of America and the director of Let’s Loop Seattle. “They have national recognition as well, so they can be catalysts for change in the arts community in Seattle and across the country.”

Seattle Rep began planning the new system after a presentation from Perazzoli, who is hearing-impaired and has been wearing hearing aids since she was 19. She explained to the Seattle Rep’s staff the importance of having fully looped systems in public spaces.

“I have to get there early, and all my friends are having a drink and I’m in line trying to get my equipment, so if for some reason the equipment doesn’t work, I am kind of on the spot,” Perazzoli explained.

One of the beautiful things about the fully looped system, Perazzoli added, is that it allows the hearing-impaired to come in and sit down just like everyone else, as long as their hearing aids or implants are equipped with a T-coil.

Users switch their devices to the “T” setting, which may need to be activated by a hearing specialist before use.

Those without a T-coil can still grab a neck receiver at Seattle Rep’s coat check.

“This empowers me to have control over my own hearing without asking for staff assistance, without asking for permission to hear,” Perazzoli added. “That is extremely empowering for individuals with hearing loss.”

She says having that T-coil symbol around, which signifies whether a certain area is looped, also generates awareness.

“Hearing loss is invisible; other people can’t see that we cannot hear,” she said. “The biggest thing is that it brings hearing loss out of the closet. Because the stigma behind hearing loss is so great, so many, many people would rather not know what is going on than be seen with a hearing aid. We have to make it OK.”

The sound system is manipulated for each show. Producing Director Elisabeth Farwell-Moreland sits in-house during technical rehearsals while wearing a hearing device to make sure guests are getting the best experience possible.

Seattle Rep used its production of “Luna Gale” as a practice run in March.

The money for the installation came from public and private donors.


Meet the photographer who loved the rain forest, so he bought some of it

By Kate Clark | The Seattle Times

Charlie Hamilton James was closely observing a bald eagle’s nest when the vicious comments started rolling in. Episode One of “I Bought A Rainforest”had just aired on BBC, and Twitter users were quick to point out its privileged overtones.

“I got so much hatred from people, and then halfway through the program it kind of flipped,” James said. “They realized I wasn’t just a rich white-guy colonialist buying land and kicking people off of it.”

In 2014, James, a wildlife photographer for National Geographic, spent $10,000 on 100 acres of Peruvian rain forest adjacent to Manú National Park. His intent: protect the land, mainly from illegal logging. The catch: He had never seen the land before.

BBC documented the unorthodox experience in the three-episode series appropriately titled “I Bought A Rainforest.” James will rehash his story Sunday through Tuesday night in Seattle’s Benaroya Hall as part of the “National Geographic Live!” speaker series.

James and his family recently relocated from the U.K. to Jackson, Wyo., after spending time in Yellowstone National Park on assignment for National Geographic. He has recently been sent to South Africa and will travel to Kenya later this month.

His life makes for excellent television.

“I didn’t even buy a rain forest; I bought an illegal coca plantation. You couldn’t have made it up,” he said of his land purchase, which happened to contain a drug operation.

Cocaine, along with beef, gold and mahogany, are all goods that cause significant damage to the Amazon rain forest to be produced.

In one scene in “I Bought A Rainforest,” a family is burning down a portion of the Amazon larger than James’ land to make room for more cattle, while James holds back tears. He was troubled by his desire to protect the land at all cost, and the inconvenient truth that the locals need to strip the Amazon of its resources to survive.

“We expect them to maintain this pristine rain forest and we shout and complain when people cut it down,” James said. “We ignore the poor people of the world at our own peril.”

Elias, an illegal logger, had a particularly strong effect on James’ understanding of the issues facing the Amazon. Elias is shown continuing to log even after James’ plea to leave his land alone.

In his final attempt to halt the logging, James visits Elias’ home and meets his wife, who is pregnant, and daughter, who is severely mentally disabled.

Crippled with doubt about his decision to kick Elias off the land, James ultimately decides to hire him to reforest the land instead. A win-win at the time. However, after James left Peru and leased his land to a nongovernmental organization, Elias “slipped up” too many times and was eventually fired.

“We have this romantic image of the people of the forest, but people like Elias are people of the forest as well, whether we like it or not,” James said. “It’s not black and white, it’s not about bad guys doing this and good guys trying to save it.”

James hopes this is what his audience will take away.

“It’s not about blame. Firstly, we are all collectively responsible,” he said.

Buying up a patch of rain forest turned out to be a fruitful learning experience for the photographer, but does he think he made a difference? No.

And does he recommend it? No again. He thinks there are plenty of better ways to help.

“Eat less beef,” he says.

Oh, and stop buying things made of mahogany.


Tent City Collective shows locations for UW-hosted Tent City 3

By Kate Clark The Daily

By Kate Clark

If you read the mission statements of any given school or department at the UW, you’ll find several similar phrases and keywords. Public service, health,

leadership, innovation, and support will appear throughout.

Nancy Amidei, senior lecturer in the School of Social Work, pointed out just how precisely these statements align with the decision to invite Tent City 3 (TC3), the longest established homeless encampment in King County, to the UW campus.

“If anyone tells you it wouldn’t be consistent to what the UW is all about, challenge them to look up the mission statement to whatever school they’re enrolled in,” Amidei said.

Amidei and a group of students known as the Tent City Collective want to bring TC3 to the UW campus. Although this is not a new idea, and students have been lobbying for years to host the encampment, Monday night was the first time a tour of proposed locations was given.

By Kate Clark
By Kate Clark

Red Square, archery field, Rainier Vista, the law building lawn, and the field in front of the HUB are the collective’s five suggestions. These locations were chosen based on their accessibility to public services, water, and power.

Some have indeed argued the UW campus is not a fit location for a homeless encampment. Former UW president Mark Emmert said back in 2009 hosting TC3 would “complicate the business of

the university.”

Interim President Ana Mari Cauce has not commented publicly on the proposal.

TC3 relocates every 90 days and is structured like a small city with specific rules and regulations to promote safety and security. TC3 has been hosted by both Seattle University, who in 2005 became the first university to host a homeless encampment, and Seattle Pacific University, whose president has declared his commitment toward integrating homelessness into SPU’s curriculum and continuing to host TC3. SPU most recently hosted TC3 during winter quarter 2015.

Karen Snedker, associate professor of sociology at SPU, who was largely involved in bringing TC3 to her campus, spoke to attendees of the walking tour. She emphasized while it was students who demanded SPU host TC3, it was also students who were uncomfortable with it initially.

So she hosted eight educational forums and taught the course, Homelessness in America, prior to TC3’s arrival.

“People were really ready to be neighbors,” Snedker said.

When TC3 completed their 90-day stay Snedker conducted a survey in which 90 percent of student respondents said SPU should host TC3 again.

Rine Hart, a resident of TC3 since 2011, said he, like other residents, keeps his promises and follows the code of conduct assigned.

When Hart first moved here in 2011, he stayed at the United Gospel Mission, a homeless shelter in the Seattle area. He said he’ll never go back.

“They only recognize you as a number,” Hart said. “At tent city you have a name.”

Another TC3 resident, Steve Tierney, who has lived in TC3 less than a week, echoed similar feelings of admiration toward the encampment.

“On the streets you can’t trust anyone,” Tierney said. “Everyone expects something from you. Tent city doesn’t do that. I finally have structure there, somewhere I can actually go at the end of the day.”

A petition on has been circulating the web calling for the UW to host Tent City 3. It had 147 supporters as of Monday evening, not including the several hand-written signatures organizers received during the tour.

Other student groups have advocated to host TC3 in the past, such as the ASUW student senate, the faculty senate, and the graduate and professional student senate, who each passed resolutions in favor of hosting.

Nitasha Sharma, a UW student and Tent City Collective organizer, said they will continue giving educational interviews to teach the community about Tent City 3. Soon, they will begin reaching out to administration.

“This issue is an epidemic in Seattle and we need to address it,” Sharma said.

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.comTwitter: @KateClarkUW

Sensitive information regarding lawsuit against CIA stolen from Center for Human Rights

By Kate Clark The Daily

A laptop containing sensitive information was stolen from the UW Center for Human Rights just weeks after they filed a lawsuit against the CIA.

The UW Police Department is investigating.

According to the center’s news release, the break-in occurred sometime between Oct. 15 and 18. The laptop was stolen from the director of the center, Angelina Godoy’s office.

She is spearheading the lawsuit, which claims the CIA withheld important information on a suspected perpetrator of human rights violations in El Salvador.

The news release stated it did not appear to be a forced break-in and the door was locked again upon exit, leading to concerns the burglary was an “act of retaliation.”

“While we have backups of this information, what worries us most is not what we have lost but what someone else may have gained: the files include sensitive details of personal testimonies and pending investigations,” the center wrote.

The center filed the freedom-of-information lawsuit Oct. 2.

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.comTwitter: @KateClarkUW

Public grant may bring public restroom to the U-District

By Kate Clark The Daily

Employees of University Heights Center, like Deputy Director Ray Munger, have arrived to work on countless mornings to find an unfortunate mess.

“We have a lot of situations of people urinating and defecating on the building,” Munger said. “As much as I don’t appreciate it, I fully understand they have nowhere else to go.”

Munger said because it is not well-lit and is away from traffic, those in need of a restroom have come to frequent the University Heights building on Northeast 50th Street and University Way Northeast.

“We have gloves, we get the stuff, throw it away, we power wash, we bleach it, we do what we gotta do,” Munger said.

Fortunately, a $22,000 grant from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods might eliminate this nuisance. The U-District Partnership (UDP) in collaboration with the U-District Conversation on Homelessness (UDCH) have initiated the U-LOO Public Restroom Project with the goal of having one public restroom installed in the U-District early next year.

Ruedi Risler, co-chair of the U-District Partnership’s clean and safe committee, spearheaded this initiative. His co-chair is Sally Clark, the UW’s director of regional and community relations.

“If you’ve been around the U-District, you know it’s obvious we need something like this,” Risler said.

Risler said the number of official public restrooms is limited because most businesses say it isn’t their problem. He has walked through what he calls the core of the U-District, the area surrounding the UW, counting the number of “sort of” public restrooms.

He’s talking about the restrooms in the University Book Store and the UW School of Social Work. Though not technically public restrooms, they are easily accessible during the day.

The committee will continue to do similar research: walking from 15th Avenue Northeast to Roosevelt Way Northeast and from Campus Parkway to Northeast 52nd Street to determine which businesses make their restrooms available to the public.

They will then develop a list and map of these existing facilities. This list will play a key role in determining the best location for a new restroom.

Risler said a public restroom will become an even greater necessity when the University Link Light Rail station arrives, as it will increase foot traffic in the area, and may not have its own public restroom.

The UDCH works to positively impact the homeless in the area and the UDP strives “to make the U-District a better place to live, work and play for our whole community,” according to their website.

The U-LOO project will determine locations, identify stakeholders, collect input from stakeholders, explore maintenance procedures, and compose a final report stating the feasibility of the project. The report will also determine the project’s next steps.

The UDP will match the $22,000 grant through volunteer labor. They’ve used some of the funds to hire a consulting firm to assist with planning and outreach.

Krystal Koop, director of University District Street Medicine, a UW student-run organization aimed at improving the quality of health care available to homeless individuals, said it’s about more than convenience, it’s about human decency.

“More public bathrooms in the U-District would provide dignity around a basic human need and be a practical example of addressing public health concerns,” Koop said in an email.

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at Twitter: @KateClarkUW

Architecture students lead discussion on Ballard’s homeless encampment

By Kate Clark The Daily

Glue sticks, scissors, tissue paper, yarn, and hundreds of small foam blocks were strewn across 11 tables in the UW’s Gould Hall Court on Tuesday night.

What appeared to be 50 adults doing arts and crafts was actually attempts to create a model of a viable homeless encampment.

Hosted by the UW department of architecture, the three-hour event resulted in 11 very different ideas of what the encampment, specifically the city-designated soon-to-be encampment on 2826 NW Market St. in Ballard, could be.

This particular encampment will house 52 residents, likely in 96-square-foot houses. The site is not large. Currently, it’s a medium-sized patch of grass tucked between a bar and a parking lot. This made fitting the 50 small blocks of foam in the designated space, each representing one person’s temporary home, very difficult.

Sharon Sutton, professor of architecture and urban design, hosted the event along with five of her students. She said there were no right or wrong answers; they were just there to brainstorm.

“It’s about getting people together who have different perspectives on the issue and starting a conversation,” Sutton said.

Many of the attendees were current and former Ballard residents, two were potential residents of the encampment, and others were in the architecture or construction business.

Prior to building actual models, participants broke into groups led by conversation facilitators, most of whom were authorities in the field of architecture or urban planning, and discussed the various expectations they had of the residents of the encampments, neighbors, and of city officials.

Each group was then assigned a more specific conversation topic. These included connectivity, safety, landscape, beauty, social service, and construction.

Freelance architect and conversation facilitator Dave Machemer discussed construction with his group. He said permanence and sustainability are essential, “as opposed to ‘hey, stay here for a month then get out.’”

Other encampments in Seattle include Nickelsville, located at 1010 S. Dearborn St., and Tent City 3, which is currently located at Bryn Mawr United Methodist Church.

The rising number of homeless individuals in the Seattle area led Mayor Ed Murray to select three new encampment sites in late June, hoping to be up and running this year. The other two new sites are in Interbay and the Industrial District. Together the three sites will host 200 people.

The sites must be 25 feet from residential lots, a half-mile or less from a bus stop, one mile from another encampment, and at least 5,000 square feet.

Another conversation facilitator, writer and brand strategist Sean O’Connor, said while these sites must be somewhat divided from its neighbors, there’s no need to create unwelcoming borders.

“We need a working space for the residents to create a community for each other, learn from each other,” O’Connor said. “But not being completely fenced in from neighbors like a demilitarized zone.”

The Ballard location caused an uproar of disapproval among many Seattleites, mainly Ballard residents and business owners. Several attendees of the community meetings held to discuss the encampment space said they felt their voices weren’t heard in the selection process.

On the other hand, many advocates for the homeless said it was the age-old ‘not in my backyard’ philosophy that spurred the upheaval.

“I think people find they’re a lot less scared of these encampments than they thought they would be,” Machemer said.

The event concluded with a debrief. Sutton asked participants what they learned and whether or not they would attend a similar workshop if she were to host again.

“I heard a lot of ideas I hadn’t thought about, so we’re off to a great start,” she said.

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at Twitter: @KateClarkUW

Rent stabilization discussed as U-District rents rise

By Kate Clark The Daily

Discussion surrounding rent control — a particularly polarizing issue in Seattle — culminated in a debate Monday night at Town Hall.

Pro-rent control Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata quarreled with anti-rent control development lobbyist Roger Valdez and Washington State Rep. Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg). The debate followed the release of Mayor Ed Murray’s affordable housing plan, which included 65 recommendations, none of which involved rent control or stabilization.

The U-District is composed of primarily renters, given that a large majority of its residents are UW students who live off-campus. A study done by KUOW said the average U-District rent for a one-bedroom unit in a larger apartment complex is $1,215, $200 below the city average, but a 30 percent increase from 1998. Rents increased most dramatically from 2013 to 2014 and continue to rise.

Most community and city leaders are in favor of rent stabilization, which caps rent hikes and is often indexed with inflation, making rent hikes more predictable and justified. Rent control, on the other hand, strictly limits rent. With both policies, rent can be raised to market rate, or the amount a person of median income can afford, when tenants vacate the space.

Rent control was banned at the state level in 1981. Repealing the ban will be difficult, but not impossible. Alex Pedersen, former aide to City Council President Tim Burgess and U-District community leader, said reversing the state policy is important because all options need to be on the table.

“Ideally, the state would give the city the power to decide what’s best for its residents,” Pedersen said.

City Council District 4 candidate Tony Provine said a repeal may happen, it’s just a matter of how councilmembers sell rent control.

“If they sell it like it looks like it’s going to be San Francisco, it won’t go through,” Provine said. “But if it looks modest, it might.”

San Francisco is a failed experiment in rent control to those who believe the policy hinders simple economics and discourages landlords, among other things. Peter Orser, director of the UW Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, said rent stabilization is an extreme and the city shouldn’t operate at extremes.

“The market is in control here, we have to encourage and incentivize and guide the market to let it work,” Orser said. “As soon as you interfere, bad things happen.”

As it stands, a student living in the U-District doesn’t have much leverage when it comes to haggling over their rent or finding more affordable options. Provine said this lack of leverage is striking.

“We need to do more to protect the housing that we do have,” Provine said. “It’s basically a seller’s market … It sounds like [landlords] can put any price with little or no justification other than that they have a waitlist of people willing to pay it and I think that’s sad. There needs to be a good reason for rent increases other than greed.”

Provine said rents should only be raised for “real reasons,” including increases in property taxes or cost of building remodels. In short, he said tenants need more protection.

Cory Crocker, the executive director of U District Square, a project aimed at creating a public square near the new light rail station, said we have to think ahead, and while rent stabilization is on the more aggressive end of the spectrum policy-wise, it has to be considered.

Crocker worries the addition of the light rail station will lead to permanent changes to the U-District, ones that may lead to a very different exterior, with buildings taller than the UW Tower on every block.

“The U-District will get more expensive and you have to wonder who can pay that,” Crocker said. “It could create a district that is a less livable district for all of us.”

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at Twitter: @KateClarkUW


City breaks ground on University Commons

By Kate Clark The Daily


It’s 80 degrees and 200 people have cycled through the University District Food Bank’s 800-square foot space. This is a typical summer day.

“It gets really hot,” said Julia Taylor, the University District Food Bank’s volunteer coordinator. “It’s just cramped.”

Since 1983, the food bank has been housed in the basement of the University Christian Church on Northeast 50th Street. As the fourth busiest food bank in the city, more space has become a necessity.

Last month, the city broke ground on the University Commons, an affordable housing apartment complex on Roosevelt Way Northeast and Northeast 50th Street. The space will also become the new home of the food bank, granting it three times as much space as its current location does.

“We want to feed as many people as possible in a more timely manner,” Taylor said. “There are many people in need and so much waste. I think it’s up to us to repurpose that waste and give it to people in need.”

The Commons will allocate 20 of the building’s 49 apartments to former homeless young adults, ages 18 to 24. The other 29 studios will be for low-wage workers, according to Sharon Lee, director of the Low Income Housing Institute. Lee said she can’t be certain, but predicts there will be part-time students living in the Commons.

Formerly homeless residents will pay a rent equal to 30 percent of their income, while other tenants will pay somewhere between $400 and $650 per month.

Construction began on the apartment complex three months after Mayor Ed Murray announced his goal of creating 20,000 affordable housing units in the next 10 years. Just this week, Murray unveiled the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee’s 65 recommendations. These included upzoning several single-family neighborhoods to allow for taller buildings.

Some groups, like the Seattle Displacement Coalition, have argued upzoning in neighborhoods like the U-District, which is already experiencing large changes, would strip the area of its charm. Murray insists upzoning is Seattle’s ticket to sufficient affordable housing.

Kristine Cunningham, director of ROOTS Young Adult Shelter in the U-District, said more housing is always a good idea.

“I just wish we had more,” she said. “[The University Commons] will be a huge help. Many of those we serve are employed but suffer from a lack of credit, savings, and stability … All the data shows us that simply by housing folks, they quickly begin to address the issues that homelessness exacerbates like addiction, mental illness, and health.”

Cunningham serves on the board of the U District Partnership (UDP), a nonprofit dedicated to improving the neighborhood. The UDP’s president, Elizabeth McCoury, said homelessness and affordable housing are topics that have driven countless conversations and meetings since she began working there a year and a half ago.

“Homeless youth are always top of the mind for us,” she said. “We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in the U-District.”

In addition to supporting the University Commons project, the UDP also employed six homeless young adults at this year’s University District Streetfair.

The University Commons project is funded by KeyBank, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the King County Veterans and Human Services Levy, the State of Washington, Impact Capital, the National Equity Fund, the Wyncote Foundation NW, and the City of Seattle.

Construction is expected to be finished by next summer.

“The first step is housing,” Taylor said. “There isn’t enough housing in King County, especially not enough low-income housing. This is something. It isn’t a lot, but it’s something.”

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.comTwitter: @KateClarkUW

Two activists visit campus to discuss issues plaguing homeless

Tim Harris, founder of Real Change, is not optimistic about the future of Seattle’s homeless population.

“I see inequalities continuing to deepen,” he said. “I don’t see change on the horizon.”

Accompanied by Rex Hohlbein, founder of Facing Homelessness, Harris answered numerous questions regarding the issues plaguing the homeless, what the community can do, and how the UW specifically can get involved. The question and answer session, titled “Honing in on Homelessness,” in the HUB south ballroom Tuesday night was hosted by Health Equity Circle, the UW School of Social Work, and University District Street Medicine.

Harris and Hohlbein explained the best and most immediate way for the UW to get involved is to host 15-year-old Tent City 3 (TC3), the longest established homeless encampment in King County. Various student groups have advocated to host TC3 in the past, along with the ASUW Student Senate, the Faculty Senate, and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, which have each passed resolutions in favor of hosting TC3.

Hohlbein spent a month living in TC3 and it changed his life, he said.

“Every community that hosts a tent city walks away a better person,” Hohlbein said. “The challenge is to break the barrier you have somewhere in your head about homelessness.”

TC3 relocates every 90 days and is structured like a small city with specific rules and regulations to promote safety and security. TC3 has been hosted by both Seattle University, who in 2005 became the first university to host a homeless encampment, and Seattle Pacific University, whose president has declared his commitment toward integrating homelessness into SPU’s curriculum and continuing to host TC3. SPU most recently hosted TC3 winter quarter 2015.

The UW came closest to hosting TC3 in 2009. However, then-UW President Mark Emmert said hosting TC3 would “complicate the business of the university.”

Celeste Goulding, UW student and member of the Tent City Collective, a subgroup of the Health Equity Circle, said there is no reason the UW shouldn’t host TC3.

“The UW is one of the biggest property owners in the city; frankly we should be hosting Tent City,” Goulding said.

The Tent City Collective recently revitalized the campaign to bring TC3 to campus. Goulding said the goal of the campaign is to get a dialogue surrounding homelessness going on campus again.

“I want [students] to continue the conversation,” Goulding said. “When they see the piece of metal on the benches at bus stops making it so people can’t lie down, I want them to wonder why those are there. Or when they get food and see homeless youth on the street and then they walk back to campus, I want them to ask why the university isn’t actively participating to do something about that.”

The next step for the Tent City Collective is to continue to engage and educate students and to get the administration on board, which has proven to be difficult in the past. In a broader context, Harris said, the city has to work to integrate these populations, not continue to segregate them, which is an inherent characteristic of a homeless encampment.

“How do we get them to actually live next to us?” Harris said. “The fundamental challenge that we have is to just see the person for who they are.”

In the short term the city of Seattle needs to do something about rent and housing, relax zoning codes, and put an end to the criminalization of the homeless, Hohlbein and Harris agreed.

“Do we want to end homelessness?” Hohlbein said. “If we want to then we will, but we have to want to, and that’s the battle.”

Reach News Editor Kate Clark at news@dailyuw.comTwitter: @KateClarkUW

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