Homeless in Seattle, WA

28878366_15229012210_r.jpegThe back story~ It seems like ever since I signed a lease with Seattle Housing Authority at the beginning of June 2016 things have been a non-stop downward spiral.  Instead of finally getting into a place where I could work a little less & apply for SSDI b/c of my disability, I found out rather quickly that SHA exploits the vulnerable & marginalized populations they serve.  They also break various regulations from city to federal, & when I would bring one up, they would simply tell me they didn't have to follow it.  One of them regarded how they calculated rent.  There are federal labor laws regarding temporary, intermittent work which limit employees to a certain number of hours a year. (This is the type of work I'm limited to given my chronic progressive illness).  SHA consistently projected my yearly salary beyond that cap, thus making my rent higher than what I should be paying.  Whenever faced with a tenant complaint, SHA either blames the tenant or ignores them (or both), which makes it virtually impossible to remedy anything.  When I started contacting politicians & agencies to see who had jurisdiction over SHA to try & resolve the issues, I found that they essentially had no oversight or system of checks & balances.  The more I looked into it, the more I found that others ran into the same problems as myself.  My activism made me a huge target at SHA, but I stayed & continued to stand up b/c I knew giving a voice to others who didn't have one was the right thing to do.  Before my eviction on March 20th, I had been experiencing months of retaliation from them.  (I won’t even go into all the Tenant-Landlord regs they break.) SHA legal was doing everything they could to try & shut me down to the point where they were specifically trying to infringe on my civil liberties & make my existence there as difficult & onerous as possible.  For the SHA attorney I was dealing with, she was out for a personal vendetta b/c I had reported her unethical conduct to the WSBA.  SHA knows they can get away with all this since it's a civil matter & their tenants can't afford attorneys.  This is the situation I was in when the eviction finally took place.  It was, needless to say, a very bad situation.

The current story~ Being homeless in Seattle is a double-edged sword.  Because we have the 3rd highest homeless population in the US, right behind NYC & LA, it is difficult to get emergency shelter, transitional housing &/or other resources.  The flip side is there are a lot of people living in tents, cars, & RVs, so no one really notices another person living in their vehicle.  Thankfully, the 1998 CRV I was able to purchase in Feb 2017 with gracious assistance of others is a great little vehicle, so I have been cozy & safe from the weather.   My issue now is looking longer term.  Realistically, I need to look at purchasing a small towable camper or RV for the near future as I don't anticipate getting any type of housing soon. (It took me 5+ yrs to get into SHA!)  Also, given the short notice of eviction, I had to rent a UHaul for a couple days & pack all my items into the nearest storage facility w/out having the time to get rid of things.  I am now sifting thru boxes on my days off, & doing donation runs, but it takes time, & storage in the city is costly.  With my health, I'm limited to what I can make working part-time, &  because of my medical disorders, it makes it difficult to move elsewhere.  It may be cheaper to live further away, or in another state, but it's taken me years to find these particular jobs that have the flexibility I need, so even if the rent is cheaper, I still would be in the same position if I couldn't get a job to pay for the rent & other basic necessities.  Tough position all around, so any contributions would be greatly appreciated.
Also, I've been looking for a pro bono attorney in the Seattle area, so if you know of anyone willing to take on SHA, it would be a very worthy cause.

A hopeful note for the future~ I have not given up the fight- if anything, I have even more resolve- & am working with a local org that has gotten housing policies changed in the past.  They believe I will be a powerful advocate.  There are so many others with stories like mine, & so it's important to keep pushing for change.

Thank you for listening....
Peace & Light, Sarah

Edit: In searching on Craigslist, I found that a small, decent RV that doesn't need a lot of work is a minimum of $5500-$6000.  From there, I would still need to pay tax & licensing fees, which is fairly high in WA state.


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Sarah Stewart 
Seattle, WA
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