In the fall of 1990, SHARE (Seattle Housing And Resources Effort), a group of homeless and recently homeless people, established a Tent City near the Kingdome to provide safe shelter for those who had none. In days, Tent City grew from three tents and sixteen people to over 25 tents and 150 residents. The democratically-resident-managed community gained much support. Through negotiation with the city and with the help of Catholic Community Services, SHARE and the Tent City residents moved to the old Metro Bus Barn. It was run as transitional housing for 99 homeless persons for five months.
The Bus Barn residents also staffed an overflow shelter for 80 persons nightly at the Immaculate Conception Church. When it came time for the closure of the Bus Barn, SHARE and the Bus Barn residents again negotiated with the city, CCS and the Queen Anne neighborhood to move into the Aloha Inn, a former motel purchased with funding from the City of Seattle.
The idea they developed for themselves is the same we have today: homeless people working together to meet one another's needs.
How the Aloha Helps People
The Aloha Inn not only Houses Homeless People temporarily, but allows qualified applicants to save money for permanent housing while learning skills to acquire better jobs. The Aloha helps people by letting them help themselves and others.
The Aloha gives you a chance to stay up to two years and save money for permanent housing to get out of homelessness. The Aloha Inn's success shows that homeless people can achieve their goals together and individually when given a chance.
Most residents are in double rooms with a private bathroom and telephone for local calls. Residents are eligible to move into single rooms as they become available, based on seniority and compliance with program requirements.
Common rooms with cable TV, coffee and snacks are open to all residents.
Full dinner is served nightly and a full breakfast is served on Sunday. Snacks and coffee are available Monday through Saturday.
Sack lunches are available for residents who have jobs outside the Aloha.
Bus tickets are available for those in need of transportation to important weekly appointments. The Aloha is wheelchair accessible.
The Aloha Inn provides a rare chance to save up money to get back into housing.
Residents open checking and savings accounts, start to reestablish credit and gain greater control over their financial lives.
Residents help one another succeed in the program - everyone is part of management.
The Aloha Inn provides these essential services, which the General Assembly helps to define:
- Employment Assistance: Individual job counseling, resumes, computer training & education, support groups, workshops & job referrals.
- Housing Counseling: Assistance in locating and applying for low-income, permanent housing for after you graduate from the Aloha.
- Vision and Dental Care: Eye exams and glasses, and basic dental care.
- Counseling: Personal counseling with a therapist off site.
- Drug and Alcohol Help: Education and counseling groups are on site several times a week.
- Computer Lab: Job oriented, individual computer skills training for residents committed to the program.
- Medical Clinic : Students from the University of Washington offer a free clinic every Sunday for all Aloha residents.