Photo by Greg McCorkle for the West Seattle Herald
Photo by Greg McCorkle of West Seattle Nickelsville resident and homeless advocate T.J. Johnson speaks to reporters at Westlake Center. The States District Court in the Western District of Washington issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Nickelsville, Real Change, and others with Occupy CEHKC to permit them an overnight forum to protest Seattle's handling of homelessness issues noon to noon, april 24-25 in the Westlake Plaza, against the wishes of the City of Seattle. SLIDESHOW, CLICK ON PHOTO FOR MORE.

UPDATE: SLIDESHOW-Nickelsville, 3 others beat City on court battle; homeless organizers can protest overnight

Occupy CEHKC Protest occupied Westlake Plaza noon to noon, April 24-25

UPDATE, Saturday, April 28:

SLIDESHOW, Click on photo for more

The 24-hour Occupy (Committee to End Homelessness in King County) CEHKC Protest was organized to make a statement, both symbolic and literal, as tents went up and folks gave speeches.

Former Washington Governor Mike Lowry, (1993-1997) a board member of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, spoke at the Governing Board Meeting, Bertha Landes Room, City Hall, April 25. He also spoke to reporter/photographer Greg McCorkle for the West Seattle Herald.

"The state can't just appropriate money (to help the homeless)," he said. "They have to look at, 'Here's the data that shows what to invest in, with taxpayers money'. You have to be able to successfully lobby to show there is a priority. We have a five-year target as opposed to the 10-year plan for veterans. The numbers keep getting bigger. The bad economy means the number of homeless is going the wrong direction."

The West Seattle Herald caught up with T.J. Johnson, an advocate and resident at the West Seattle homeless encampment, Nickelsville, who was helping at Occupy CEHKC. She echoed Gov. Lowry's message about showing Olympia that homelessness should be a priority.

"The 10-year plan to end homelessness still isn't enough because in the seven years they've had it, it is growing in numbers, with homeless both inside and out," she said. "We need to just keep pushing them, being nice to them, but keep being irritable by annoying them with redundancy, 'Hi. We're here. We're still homeless. Hi. We're here. We're still homeless.'"

Harriet White, age 4, lives in Nickelsville with her mother, Virginia, and her grandmother, Virginia's mother, Gebbie Eagle. They were at Westlake Plaza.

"Harriet loves books, and coloring," said her mother. "Anywhere we go is home to her. I'm the mom and dad."

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The Committee to End Homelessness in King County, or Occupy CEHKC, has just announced that the Honorable Richard A. Jones, District Judge for the United States District Court in the Western District of Washington, issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Real Change, SHARE, WHEEL, Nickelsville, and Tim Harris, the founder of Real Change, who say they are positioned as advocates for the more than 2,500 people who are without shelter every night in King County.

These groups had filed suit against the City of Seattle and the Seattle Parks and Recreation department for refusing to issue a permit for their 24-hour protest to allow a 24-hour period of political discourse to include the public and visible occupation of tents. As a result, "Occupy CEHKC at Westlake Plaza, April 24-25" to run from noon today until noon tomorrow, will move foreword.

According to Harris, the City of Seattle maintained it was applying a public ban on camping without intending to limit the free speech. Harris said that, in his ruling, Judge Jones said that the City had changed the reasons for their denial several times, and it was not clear what interest they were trying to protect. Moments later, he granted the preliminary injunction sought by the organizations and Tim Harris, who were the plaintiffs in the case.

The ruling applies only to the eight-hour period between 10:00 p.m. on April 24, and 6:00 a.m. on April 25, for which time the City had sought to exclude the plaintiffs from carrying out political activities at Westlake Park. Plaintiffs will now be allowed to camp at the park, and may erect up to four tents and two canopied structures for the duration of their activity.

The West Seattle Herald has reported on homelessness hitting, well, close to home, including the West Seattle presence of the Nickelsville Homeless Encampment, the homeless and near-homeless Real Change street newspaper vendors stationed in front of Safeway, PCC, Met Market, the Alaska Junction, and other heavily-trafficed pedestrian stops, the official One Night Count, and the Veteran's Club at South Seattle Community College's anticipation of area veterans returning in large numbers with statistically low opportunities to find work, and many afflicted with PTSD.

Those on Facebook can visit the page Occupy CEHKC at Westlake, April 24-25.

That site posts the following statistics:

Beginning of 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness: 2005

Total number of homeless without shelter in 2006 King County One Night Count: 1,946

Total number of homeless without shelter in 2011 Seattle-King County One Night Count: 2,594

Increase in King County unsheltered homeless since first full year of 10 Year Plan: 33%

Number of unsheltered homeless in Seattle alone in 2006 One Night Count: 1,618

Number of unsheltered homeless in Seattle alone in 2012 One Night Count: 1,898

Percent increase in unsheltered Seattle homeless since first full year of 10 Year Plan: 17%

Number of homeless counted in 2006 in emergency and
transitional shelter: 5,964

Number of homeless counted in 2011 (last year numbers are available) in emergency and transitional shelter: 6,382

Increase in sheltered homeless people since CEHKC initiated
10 year Plan: 7%

Number of King County homeless dead by violence or outside since 2005: 318

Sources: Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness, 2006 and 2012 ONC Reports, Women in Black

Sponsored by WHEEL (wheelorg@yahoo.com), SHARE (shelters@sharewheel.org), Nickelsvillle (scott@nickelsville.org), and Real Change (organizer@realchangenews.org).

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