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‘Everyone is a paycheck or two away from being homeless’

Ron and Don with Polly Trout and Patrick Mosley. (Lauren Padgett, KIRO Radio)
LISTEN: Seattle homeless camp needs to raise $15K after city’s grant

Patrick Mosley has learned a few things since becoming homeless in Seattle, living on the streets, and in a tent city. First, while there are a lot of people living in tents around town, there are many different reasons individuals are doing so.

“It’s a variety of situations, anywhere from felonies and having a hard time getting a job, or mental issues,” Mosley told KIRO Radio’s Ron and Don Show. “In my case, I went through a pretty bad divorce and lost everything. Instead of moving back to California, I decided to stay here and be close to my kids.”

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Mosley is shy, yet well-spoken. If he didn’t tell you his situation, you might not assume that he is homeless and living in a tent city.

“Everyone is a paycheck or two away from being homeless,” he said. “It just takes a couple of things to come up and anyone can be in this situation.”

A sober tent city

Mosley is still homeless, but he does have a community — Camp Second Chance. The tent city is among three that have been authorized by the City of Seattle recently. It has a unique story. The strictly sober encampment began when organizer Polly Trout broke a lock off a gate to gain access to the vacant city land on Meyers Way South. The campers then squatted in their tents. They almost were forced off at one point. A few months later, the city donated $208,000 to support the camp over the coming year.

Mosley came along after the camp’s controversial beginning. He’s been at Camp Second Chance for about four months. And recently, Mosley was elected to the board — the camp is a democratic organization. That organization is now moving forward with city support, and private funding, to build up the camp.

“When I came in, there was a great group of people there,” Mosley said. “I decided to join with a little bit of prodding.”

“We are now in the process of coming up with designs for tiny houses,” he said. “Hopefully, we will have volunteers build them for us.”

Previous reports on the three encampments that Mayor Ed Murray has called for indicate that Camp Second Chance was to have 50 tent sites, serving 60-70 people. The tiny homes would be a new addition. The two other authorized camps — on South Myrtle Street and another on Nesbit Avenue North — are slated for up to 50 tiny homes each.

Currently, Camp Second Chance is attempting to raise $15,000 to meet funding requirements in its deal with the city. It has until March 1 to come up with the private funding and is accepting donations.

Trout is with Patacara, the organization sponsoring the tent city. She said that housing for homeless individuals is the ultimate goal, but in the meantime, there has to be another remedy.

“Housing is better and we can do better,” she said. “But the reality is we don’t have enough housing and it takes longer. Everybody needs a safe place to sleep tonight. And everybody needs a safe place to leave their belongings tomorrow while they go to work, or look for work.”

“There’s not enough affordable housing, and that’s a problem, we need to build more,” Trout said. “But building housing takes time … When shelters are full and people are forced to live on the streets and in greenbelts, if they don’t have community and organizing, people can get hurt badly. People are raped, beaten and killed.”

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