Screen Shot 2017 08 22 at 10.52.24 AMYAEH

Tyler Donhardt


Around this time last summer, in all, there were 65 possible beds for homeless youth in the city of Seattle. But did you know that there has been a near 300% increase in the number of shelter beds this year? New shelters have been popping up left and right since last year. One such shelter in the International District recently opened its doors in April. This new shelter is located on Jackson Street, close to Rainier Avenue. It is hidden in a big grey building towering behind a blue fence. If you aren’t looking for the place with the right eyes, it is very easy to miss.

Screen Shot 2017 08 22 at 10.52.24 AMYAEH

Tyler Donhardttrai

 
Around this time last summer, in all, there were 65 possible beds for homeless youth in the city of Seattle. But did you know that there has been a near 300% increase in the number of shelter beds this year? New shelters have been popping up left and right since last year. One such shelter in the International District recently opened its doors in April. This new shelter is located on Jackson Street, close to Rainier Avenue. It is hidden in a big grey building towering behind a blue fence. If you aren’t looking for the place with the right eyes, it is very easy to miss.

There have been a lot of talks in the community that have culminated in the creation of this shelter. The conception of the idea is tied into the work of Mayor Murray’s Emergency Task Force on Unsheltered Homelessness. Some of our Mockingbird staff were a part of this task force, including one Trai Williams. Trai and the rest of the task force’s ideas have now resulted in both the Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets (PSKS) and the Jackson Street shelters being created. According to Trai, a lot of the dialogue in the task force highlighted the disproportionality of impoverished and homeless people in South Seattle, especially amongst persons of color. This has grown into a core tenet at the Jackson Street shelter.

"Many of the kinds of drop-in centers that exist in downtown
Seattle and the U District don’t exist in South Seattle.
So outreach takes place in locations
like community centers and libraries and other niche spots."

In fact, the Jackson Street shelter is specifically geared towards working with youth of color and youth in the South Seattle area. It does have some requirements though. Homeless youth between the ages of 18 and 25 are able to stay as long they are working, in school, or are working towards enrolling in school. The practices in the shelter are culturally competent, and outreach takes on interesting forms. Many of the kinds of drop-in centers that exist in downtown Seattle and the U District don’t exist in South Seattle. So outreach takes place in locations like community centers and libraries and other niche spots. The culture in South Seattle has been described as more hardened, and less open about the hardships that the unstably housed face. The staff at the shelter have this kind of information at the forefront of their mind when working with youth who see the thing we call ‘hardship’ as something they simply call ‘life’.

Trai Williams is now currently one of the staff and a strong personality and creative force in the shelter. Her time in the planning and conception of the shelter eventually led to employment at the same place she helped create. Now she is able to help ensure that the spirit of change they wanted to create in the community with the shelter is enacted with care and a human touch. Trai has emphasized a desire to prepare youth for independent life and normalcy. Those who stay at the shelter find they are expected to clean up after themselves in the way they would if the shelter had been their own home. This, along with the emphasis placed on work and school, seems like a very empowering approach.

So, if you are looking for a place to stay and are looking to work towards independence, this shelter will be a pretty cool place to check out. Lots of cool work in the community has gone into the creation of this place. The shelter’s creation has certainly been a strong balancing step for the lack of resources in South Seattle. With excellent staff like Trai, the stay is guaranteed to be lively and interesting. So go check it out!

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Your Work

We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit www.mockingbirdsociety.org, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ mockingbirdsociety.org. Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.