Why...I ask myself. Why when I am sitting at the traffic light at 116th and 98th do I always ignore eye contact with the homeless man that often stands under the shade of the tree with his sign in hand? I'm not a big believer in dishing out money to these guys to help perpetuate their way of life. However, his hand-written cardboard plea on this particular day said "hot food or coffee" so I decided to make some time and pick him up a Starbucks. In the car, my kids are firing off a million questions none of which I know the answers to. Yet.
So I want you to meet Steven. He's 54 and from NY originally. He's disabled and has been homeless for 7 years and lives in a tent in Bellevue, but has been taking the bus to his (our) corner in Kirkland for about a year now. Steve used to be a bookbinder and a heavy machine operator, but now all he has are the clothes on his body, a few things in his backpack and his coveted heater, which is hidden back at his tent. I was curious how much these guys pull in on a good day in Kirkland. He had been there 8am-10:30am so far and only had 60 cents. Typically, he'll pull in $20/day which supplements his $70/mo in food stamps. Every corner in Totem Lake has some sad eyes and a sign, thanks to Tent City, says Steve, who also mentions he "gets along great with the cops. I dis-associate myself from the drugs and drama." From what Steve says there is a two year wait list for local housing, so he doesn't really have a plan. But he was kind and respectful and appreciative so I was glad that I made the stop to say hello. And I'm pretty sure this made an impression on my kids, who got their questions answered too. Good luck to ya, Steve.