15 homeless shelters set to close Monday

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by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 10, 2011 at 7:59 AM

SEATTLE -- Spending cuts are forcing a Seattle organization to close 15 indoor shelters Monday, putting about 300 homeless people on the streets, the group said.

SHARE/WHEEL, the organization that runs the shelters, said it has run out of money.  The homeless-run shelters rely heavily on government spending, but this year they lost a giant chunk of federal money, which came through a FEMA grant.

"We really need a stable source of funding," said Jarvis Capucion, who is homeless and serves on SHARE/WHEEL's board of directors. 

A large amount of the money goes to bus tickets, which allow those who use the shelter to travel to other parts of the city during the day.  The tickets are necessary to keep homeless people from lingering in neighborhoods near the shelters, something many sites require in exchange for using their space.

Capucion said many people are afraid to sleep on the streets.  They are hearing reports that six homeless people have died in the past two months.

"Being on the streets, you don't have that safety," he said.  "You can't sleep and you're always on the lookout."

Anna Hammitt, who moved into a shelter in the University District last month, is angry about the closures.  Shortly after moving to Seattle, she learned even motel rent was too expensive, so she moved into the shelter. 

"They welcomed us with open arms," she said.  "These guys are my family."

Her goal is to help find funding to reopen the shelters as soon as possible.

"I know my purpose is here to help those that really need help," Hammitt said.

SHARE/WHEEL is hosting a sleep-out to raise awareness Monday night, which happens to be World Homeless Action Day.  The sleep-out begins at 7 p.m. in an alley off Stewart, between Second and Third avenues. 

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