The Ride Free Area is located in downtown Seattle where there are multiple free services for homeless people: Downtown Emergency Service Center, Mary's Place, Urban Rest Stops, City Hall, King County Courthouse, various shelters, etc. Taking away this service will disproportionally impact people who access these services.
I have been a social worker for 5 years--first as a case manager at Providence Hospitality House (an emergency shelter for women with children) and now at Sojourner Place (a transitional housing unit for women in the U District). Providence Hospitality House is now closed due to lack of funding, but I am fully aware that homelessness still plagues women with children throughout the Seattle area. On a daily basis I talked with women who had small kids who had to ride the bus all night to stay warm. It saddens me to reminisce about this--made more sad by the fact that they will no longer be able to ride the bus for free starting September 29th, 2012.
Every year Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness conducts a "One Night Count" in January. According to the 2012 results over 8,000 people were without a home on that night this year. Over 3,000 individuals were forced to find the most comfortable place they could--laying down for a rough night of sleeping in a tunnel, overpass, wooded area, etc. Furthermore, 50% of all the people counted were families with children.
Mayor McGinn, these numbers are not surprising to me, and I am sure they don't come as a shock to you either. With thousands of working class people losing their jobs to the economy, the time is now to be proactive in ensuring these vital social services are able to sustain people long enough for full recovery.
As human beings, our survival depends upon food, water, and shelter. Thousands of people do not have these basic needs. Taking away the Ride Free Area ensures that temporary shelter (if only to the end of the bus line) will be taken away, leaving people cold and on the streets.
Mayor McGinn, as a constituent, I am disheartened by your lack of willingness to fight for this vital service. Do what we hired you to do, and protect social services, starting with the Ride Free Area.