Eugene Cho

nickelsville and the homeless: the complexity of an issue and the simplicity of human dignity

Update:  On Wednesday, October 8, eight homeless men and two others representing Nickelsville met with one of our pastors and inquired about using our church parking for their “home” for the next couple months.  They needed to find a new home by Noon, October 10. Logistically, months would have been difficult but the Elder Board had a good conversation and was open to welcoming them to Quest for several weeks but the day before they had to “relocate,” a church in the University District with a much larger parking space opened the doors for them for the duration of the year.  Certainly an answer to prayer for them and another reminder to us how we can “be the church” in the coming years.

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The “homeless” is a broad word.  I don’t want to pretend I am an expert but in the 8+ years at Quest and Q Cafe, we have met and heard from hundreds and hundreds of the homeless community which gave birth to the church’s To The Streets ministry which is still going strong.  In short, homelessness is indeed very complex but like many issues, we tend to forget that there are people – human beings – beneath the issues.  Like you, they go hungry, cold, lonely, afraid…and there are some who genuinely want to get off the streets.  Beyond just compassion, they need dignity and advocates…

This past Sunday, I had a friend – Dustin Cross – join us at Quest and share his brief story in working with an intense hot political civic issue with the homeless community known by many in Seattle as Nickelsville. His commitment and advocacy for the homeless led him [and numerous others] to jail last week.   

 What is Nickelsville?

Nickelsville is a permanent homeless shantytown in Seattle which will accomodate up to 1,000 people.  Nickolodeons [its residents] will live in permanent structures (not tents) and will not have to move every few months.  Emphasis will be on safe and sanitary conditions.

This year’s one night count showed an increase of 15% in the number of homeless people sleeping outside.  Sleeping outside is dangerous; unfortunately there are not enough indoor shelters.  There is safety in numbers, there is power in being organzed.

Here’s what Dustin shared on Sunday.  His contact info along with ways you can help are listed below.  They especially need legal help for those who are able.

**************************************************************************

This week the mayor ignored the request of 13 local congressmen as well as the city council and destroyed the homes of 143 people. You probably didn’t hear that much about it because these people were homeless.
Most there at Nickelsville have been homeless less than a year, many less than one month.

One family who was recently homeless was asked, “Do you want to stay here”?  The husband George replied:

“Of course I don’t want to stay here. Do you want to live in a tent? Would you want to have to keep your family in a tent? I hate it, I can’t buy my wife the things she deserves. There is no other choice. For us to go to a shelter means I have to go one shelter and my wife has to go to a different shelter blocks or miles away . I have to leave my wife on streets if I want her to have a bed. I can’t watch after her, I can’t protect her. Here at Nickelsville is the first time in months that I’ve even been able to sleep next to my wife. It’s the first time I’ve been able to be with my wife in months.”

We built 15 homes and had 150 tents. All the homes and 80 tents have been demolished by the city. Many came up to me and said,

“Dustin, I’ve never owned a home before, this is my first home. I built it with my own hands. Why do they want to come and destroy my home?”

That Friday night, after the city arrested us and bulldozed the area, there was still not enough shelter. Rev. Rick Reynolds of Operation Nightwatch which dispatches homeless to shelters around the city said that “there still wasn’t enough beds in Seattle for the people seeking shelter.”

After the mayor deemed Nickelsville “unnecessary” and promised that “no one who wanted shelter would go without it”, Operation Nightwatch turned 20 away that same night b/c all local shelters were full and ended up having to send them back to Nickelsville to join the over 100 who were already there.

The hardest thing has been leaving. Every time I leave I am surrounded by people calling out,

“Dustin, we’ll never forget you, please don’t forget us. Please come back. Please share our story. Tell the churches to please help. Can you come start a church service here?”

There are still well over 100 staying at the shelter. We need food and water, but our two main needs are for people to please contact Gov. Gregoire’s office 360-902-4111 to voice support. The other need is simple. We need blankets. We need them badly. Many are sleeping outside on the pavement with nothing.  For those who want more information, you can contact us at http://nickelsvilleseattle.org or contact me directly.

Dustin Cross
318-349-6535
bro_cross@yahoo.com

Filed under: religion, ,

6 Responses

  1. Bret says:

    Curious to know what has worked in getting other churches involved.

    We feed the needy every Sunday afternoon and provide clothing, hygiene products, etc. We are upto 140 meals a day and pushing our financial and logistical limits.

    We havent been to successful with getting other congregations involved.

  2. Bret,

    Apparently Mayor Nickels is working hard to get other churches involved too. A Notice of Violation of Land Use has been posted in Nickelsville. This is seperate from the Notice to Vacate that has been pushed back until Wednesday as has been widely reported.

    The Notice of Violation of Land Use threatens to fine the occupants of Nickelsville $150.00 a day for every day Nickelsville exists starting today. Amazingly, that notice names several other groups and individuals and threatens them with fines. This includes the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness and David Bloom who currently heads this group.

    It also names the following –

    ROOTS and the current head of ROOTS, Sinan Demirel. ROOTS serves homeless youth.

    SHARE/WHEEL (based on 3 locations, including one in Vancouver, WA)

    Veterans for Peace Chapter 92,

    and the following individuals:

    Diane Christie, Scott Morrow, Bill Kirlin-Hacket, Daniel H. Gilman, Woody Pidcock, , and John and Jane Doe.

    My guess is that naming these groups and well known individuals, the Mayor has essentially invited a whole lot of people to get involved that would have otherwise stayed more on the sidelines.

  3. […] a link to the Citywide Housing Coalition.  Please take a look.  also,  I’d commend to you these thoughts from a pastor in Seattle by the name of Eugene […]

  4. […] becoming homeless.  We haven’t had any folks at Quest…yet…but 10 folks from Nickelsville came by Quest last week and asked to use our parking space for their encampment.  The Elder Board […]

  5. […] and genersosity.  On a recent trip from his doctor, he passed the homeless community called Nickelsville, and his last wish was to help feed the homeless.  It’s an amazing and beautiful story.  On […]

  6. […] and genersosity.  On a recent trip from his doctor, he passed the homeless community called Nickelsville and his last wish was to help feed the homeless.  It’s an amazing and beautiful […]

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Everyone loves the idea of  reconciliation...until it involves truthtelling, confessing, repenting, dismantling, forgiving, and peacemaking. Charlottesville. So heartbreaking and infuriating. We weep and mourn over the hatred in the hearts of these white nationalists. We weep and mourn but we can't be defeated.

As I stare at this photo that's making its round on the internet, I'm reminded of the utter importance of showing up. I'm grateful for the news media, law enforcement, clergy, and peaceful protesters that are currently there to report, protect, pray, and protest.

And this is an invitation to us. May we not be mere bystanders. May we keep pressing forward. Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Commit to truth-telling, justice, reconciliation, peacemaking. Follow the ways of Christ. Every day. And it's important to note that we don't have to go to Charlottesville to do this. In fact, it's more important that we do this exactly where we're at. May we live out the call to reconciliation in our churches, workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, and around our dining tables. Lord, may it be so... We don't have to go to Charlottesville to do this. We have to do this wherever were called to be.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. /// Thanks to those who let me know that the photo wasn't actually from today but rather from last month in Charlottesville. - https://www.facebook.com/FrankSomervilleKTVU/posts/1551137301616258:0 Grateful for a spontaneous, last minute trip with Minhee to my old stomping grounds - San Francisco. 48 hours of visiting this special city that I called home for so many years.

Pic 1: Went to the Cliff House restaurant where we got engaged about 21 years ago to make out. Oops, sorry, I meant...to reflect on God's faithfulness over these many years.

Pic 2: Walked across the Golden Gate Bridge because it's such an iconic place - with some of the most incredible views.

Pic 3: Enjoyed a glass of some Cabernet Sauvignon and pretended to be wine connoisseurs at a vineyard.

Pic 4: Had lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant, Sam Tung, which boasts some of the best chicken in the country. And of course, we ate at In-n-out.

Pic 5: And finally, celebrated with the good folks at @thefreedomstory where @onedayswages received their annual Freedom Award. What an honor.

Grateful. Thankful for this sabbatical. Breathe.

Show yourself some grace.

We can't do everything for everyone in every situation. Do what you can and do it with a joyful heart.

Amen A family that eats sushi together stays together.

Seriously, I don't ever remember eating so much as a teenager but these kids eat and eat and eat. Perhaps, the reason why this kid is pushing 6 feet tall. Grateful for a special treat with the family at @JaponessaSeattle. I'm sharing an obligatory, "I love and appreciate my wife, she's amazing" photo. Also...because I did something naughty...or brilliant. ;) Seattle is in the midst of a crazy heatwave. Near 100 degrees, hazy, and humid. An excessive heat advisory warning has also been issued.

So, Minhee and I needed to run some errands. It waa horrible but sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do. It's also known as adulting.

So, I'm driving and the air conditioning seems to have minimal effect. Minhee is in the passenger's seat and umm, when she's not paying attention, I turn on her seat heater to 5 - the highest level. All along, she's complaining about how hot she is...for nearly an hour...until she finally realizes what I did.

Bam. Boom. Gotcha.

Minhee, I love you!

my tweets

  • RT @mrmedina: When Bryan Stevenson speaks, we do well to listen. https://t.co/o5GJD0KWR2 || 12 hours ago
  • "Mourn with those who mourn." Lifting up the people of Sierra Leone in prayers. Hundreds dead and many more missing… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… || 14 hours ago
  • Dear Barcelona: We are so sorry. We mourn the violence and tragedy in your beautiful city. We pray for healing and yearn for peace. Amen. || 1 day ago
  • Love wins in the end but meanwhile, it fights for things that matter. Love isn't sentimental. It's both gentle & fierce. Seek God's Kingdom. || 2 days ago
  • In response to racism, folks often say, "It's a sin issue." Yes...but don't be naive. Sin creates sinful systems: youtube.com/watch?v=LEbUa0… || 3 days ago
  • Everyone loves the idea of reconciliation...until it involves truthtelling, confessing, repenting, dismantling, forgiving, and peacemaking. || 5 days ago