Homeless stage 'sleep-out' outside Gates Foundation building


by KING 5 News


Posted on October 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM

SEATTLE -- About 100 homeless people and anti-poverty activists staged a "sleep-out" Monday night outside the new Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation building in Seattle to protest the closure of 15 area shelters.

Dozens of homeless people lost their shelter this week after the SHARE/WHEEL organization was forced to close its doors due to lack of funding. The group said the Gates Foundation is not doing enough to solve homelessness in Seattle.

SHARE supporters said they chose to protest outside the Gates Foundation because they are tired of seeing global projects funded out of the headquarters while homeless in Seattle suffer in poverty.

Protestors said they plan to protest from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. outside the Gates Foundation building every night until they get enough money to refund their shelters and keep their 15 locations open.

The Gates Foundation has endorsed a 10-year plan to end homelessness in King County, but the SHARE/Wheel group said the plan doesn't make it a priority to build shelters.

"Me and my wife both sleep in there and we can't be there at the same time, so I let her sleep and I stayed up all night, fighting the fight with everybody," said Marcus Hammitt.

"The Gates Foundation, they're not the only people that we target. Boeing's out there, Microsoft is out there," said Justin Embre.

David Bley, a spokesman for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said "homelessness is an important issue the ... Foundation cares deeply about. In fact, we have committed more than $100 million in the tri-county region alone to address this problem."

The SHARE/WHEEL supporters said they have nothing to do with the Occupy Seattle protest. They said they would like to sit down with some people at the foundation. No word yet if the foundation plans to do that.

KING 5's Jake Whittenberg contributed to this report.