What is SHARE/WHEEL?
SHARE is Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (co-ed).
WHEEL is the Women's Housing, Equality and Enhancement League (women-only).
We are partnered organizations of homeless and formerly homeless men and women.
All of our efforts are self-managed; run by the homeless members themselves.
We are King County's largest shelter network, with 11 indoor shelters and two Tent Cities.
In addition to shelters and Tent Cities, we facilitate a Storage Locker Program and a Housing-For-Work Program called SHARE2.
We are not a social service organization; we are a self-help group.
History and Achievements:
SHARE and WHEEL are self-organized, democratic, grassroots organizations of homeless and formally homeless individuals. SHARE was founded in 1990 and WHEEL was founded in 1993. Since then, we have been working to eradicate homelessness, educate the community, and empower homeless people.
We practice self-management because it acknowledges and promotes the innate dignity of each person. All major decisions are made organizing meetings that all members are encouraged to attend, participate, and vote in.
SHARE is the national leader in breaking down attitudinal & unconstitutional legal barriers to Tent Cities, of which we organize three, as well as Seattle’s largest network of indoor shelters, all self-managed. Recognized leaders within SHARE can enhance that role by participating in our SHARE2 housing for work program, which provides extra support for struggling shelters, enabling them to become successful in self-management.
WHEEL operates a large, low-barrier women's shelter, facilitates the Homeless Remembrance Project, and sponsors Women in Black vigils whenever a homeless person dies outside, in a public place, or by violence in King County.
Together, SHARE and WHEEL educate our community about the causes and effects of homelessness, build bridges with homed people to address those issues, and actively lobby to change policies that oppress homeless people.
Up to 450 people each night find safety, shelter, dignity, and respect in our self-managed shelters and Tent Cities.
After years of struggle, community education, and negotiation we established the first Tent City in a suburban area in May 2004. Overcoming initial intense public opposition, we negotiated with King County to define and establish land use standards for temporary homeless encampments. In the process we were able to build bridges with the community, leading to the establishment of Eastside Cares and Greater Seattle Cares, coalitions of religious and lay people that provide practical, fundraising, and lobbying support for Tent Cities.
Membership in SHARE/WHEEL is open to all homeless and formally homeless adults. Membership is defined as participation: we do not have dues or formal membership lists. We are active throughout greater Seattle, with participants from throughout King County. Our self-managed shelters and SHARE2 houses are located in 13 Seattle neighborhoods. Tent City 3 moves quarterly within Seattle, Tukwila, Shoreline, and unincorporated South King County. Tent City 4 moves quarterly between locations in suburban cities in North and East King County, including Bothell, Kirkland, Woodinville, and Bellevue.
Decision Making Process
Participants at weekly community meetings make all decisions in SHARE and WHEEL; virtually everyone present is low-income. Every participant who attends has an equal vote; paid staff has none. The SHARE Power Lunch is held at rotating program sites every Saturday, and the WHEEL community meetings are on Mondays at the WHEEL Women’s Empowerment Center. Decisions that affect both SHARE and WHEEL must be agreed on at both meetings. The SHARE Board of Directors meets with the Power Lunch.
SHARE has a nine-member Board of Directors and WHEEL has an Executive Committee, elected by participants from among participants. There are no term-limits; the community meetings can replace any elected member at any time. These elected groups study issues and make recommendations at the community meetings.
There are a number of standing ad-hoc committees to address particular problems and projects: a Finance Committee, a Vehicle Maintenance Committee, committees to prepare for meetings such as those with City Council members, etc. These committees consist of low-income participants with a staff facilitator, and carry out directives set by the community meetings. Actions taken by committees are always subject to review at the weekly community meetings.
Both SHARE and WHEEL depend on individual participants holding each other accountable. Any member may file an incident report or grievance against a staff member, someone in an elected position, or anyone delegated to do a task for the community. Grievances are reviewed at by-weekly meetings and at the weekly community meeting.