Councilmembers propose locker program for Seattle homeless

SEATTLE -- Two members of the Seattle City Council say they want to look into supplying storage lockers for the city's homeless, and it turns out they won't have to look very far to see how the lockers work.

In a joint letter posted last week to the Stranger's website, Councilmembers Bruce Harrell and Sally Bagshaw argued that Seattle should explore the idea of providing free lockers to the city's homeless.

But it turns out the city already does just that.

For nearly 20 years, a homeless advocacy group called SHARE has been running a room full of lockers in Seattle. The program is funded by the city, with space donated by Vulcan Inc.

SHARE pays one staff member to run the program, but the locker users police themselves for the most part.

"Council people don't always check the facts before they speak, so when they are saying that, it's like, 'Hey, wait minute, we already have a locker program," said SHARE volunteer Issac Pace.

The program may not be well known, but its 150 lockers are used daily.

"A lot of times people come in and get a new change of clothes or whatever," said a woman named Elaine who has used the lockers.

A man named Barry said he's been homeless for more than a decade and he oftentimes has no place to put his things.

"You're going to a job interview, you don't want the cops or the city crew to haul your stuff off," he said. "That's messed up."

While they may not have known about the current program, Pace said he's glad members of the council are looking into the issue and he hopes they're willing to expand on it.

"Having more locker programs would be great, because during our one night count this year we counted over 3,000 people on the street," he said.

Harrell declined a request to talk about the program, and Bagshaw was unavailable for comment.