Honorary Field Investigator
US Department of HUD 1986-1996
In 1986 I worked in conjuction with business, civic, and social groups in Seattle who helped reform Washington State's DSHS-GAU program and input ideas into the Office of Congressman Mike Lowry.
Congressman Mike Lowry went on to co-sponsor the Stewart Mc Kinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987. The exchange of information between cities and states began in earnst in 1987.
In 1987 Mr. James Harris of Oregon's homeless program in the Department of Community Services proposed the construction of the I-5 Corridor interstate network between San Diego, CA and Seattle, WA.
Governor Neil Goldschmidt of Oregon, Governor Dukemejian of California assigned Chrisine D. Reed and Washington State appointed DSHS Secretary Jules Sugarman and many others agreed to participate in
the construction of the I-5 network. I was asked to do the field work for this networking program which continues as of July, 1994.
Not long after 1987 Governor Bamburger of Utah, the Govenor of Colorado, Governor of New Mexico, portions of Nevada, InterAgency Council on Homeless, Governor of Florida, and General Willie
Scott of Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and other joined the program and made CHAPS a national directory in 14 states.
The networking activity was origionally a small published list of homeless shelters and contacts. In 1988 we recieved a national news article in
Seattle Post Intelligencer. CHAPS publications influenced national legislation in CSBG, Food Stamps, and other area. CHAPS became a
computerized directory service about 1991 and expands at the request of those using the system.
Chris Walters Author,
US Codes Passed By US Congress
Director Kay Knepprath
Califonrnia Housing and Homeless Coalition
1107 9th Street, Suite 560
Sacramento, CA 95814
Mr. James Harris
Oregon Department of Housing & Community Services
725 Summer Street NE, Suite B
Salem OR 97301-1266
Dept Community Development
Ninth & Columbia Bldg
Olympia, WA 98504
I-5 Corridor Ageeement
Proposal by Oregon State
(Expanded To Include 15 States)
Among those working with the homeless in the western States of California, Oregon, and Washington there is a growing awarenessness that many thousands of the homeless migrate
along the I-5 Corridor on a regular basis as well as seasonally with weather changes. These major migrations have an impact on all the cities both on the corridor and near the highway.
Most of the cities,states, groups, and individuals on this list have expressed an interest in exchanging information and ideas on the homeless
issue with others to gain an understanding of the homeless movements, expansion of networks and computer systems, consider new ideas, and
approaches to problems and possible eventually to formulate regional policy.Of particular interest is the new Handsnet Computer Information sharing system operated by
CAL-NEVA (California Homeless and Housing Coalition) . The California Homeless Coalition has expressed an interest in extending the system into other states for information sharing
(Kay Knepprath 1987)
Also included in the list are city by city information on emergency shelters serving male transient populations where possible showing shelter capability, bed capability, feeding
information, and the ability to return homeless to work. Of the at least 150 emergency shelters in the region of 5 western states it is estimated that only 10% currently have
the ability to assist the home less to return to work at this time. Most shelters have stay time too short to support work among the male homeless; typically 3 to 5 days per
month. It is also important that information on shelters are primarily estimated and more specific information can be gotten from the shelters by writting or calling. It is hoped
you will use this list to contact other taskforces, groups, and individuals and exhange information and ideas with them.
By Chris Walters
Suggested by: Mr. James Harris (retired)
Oregon Community Services
Transient Surveys Shelters
Sunday, November 20th, 1988
Seattle Post Intelligencer
MEDFORD, ORE- In his wandering from San Diego to Seattle Chris Walters has surveyed homeless shelters and developed ideas about how to make them better.
"I'm not doing just a survey" says Walters from a phone
booth in Stockton, California."I live there. I'm a homeless person too."
James Harris, Manager of Oregon's Homeless Program, says Walters has provided information about the needs and movements of the homeless and transients on the I-5 Corridor - information that
officials wouldn't get otherwise
"I think he's doing a public service".
Walters said he worked in security for 10 years as a clerk in a bank in Florida before hitting the road. After a six month stint as a motel clerk in 1986, he was back on the
road again. "If you were looking at me, you couldn't tell I was homeless." He said on the telephone."You would assume I worked in a bank or something. The only thing that would
give me away would be my disintegrating tennis shoes."
His office is a notebook he carried in a small duffle bag along with a change of clothes and a few personal items.
In His travels he distributes his reports on homeless shelters
to city managers, county supervisors, social-service
departments, Congressmen, Senators, Libraries, and Newspapers
He applauds a decision in California to open National Guard Armories as shelters on cold nights and would like to see other states do the same. "It keeps people from freezing to death, "
he said. Walters ranks Oregon first in the West in helping homeless men to go back to work, followed by Nevada, Arizona, Washington, and California.
He said the short time a person can stay in a shelter makes it
harder for him or her to settle down and get a job. "When a homeless person is in Medford and his five days are up, he's not going to starve to death or freeze to death at night,"
Walters said, "He's going to go north to Roseburg or south to Redding. Most homeless move around because the homeless system is set up to encourage them to move around. He would like to see shelters allow
one 30 day stay a year, so people can get a job and start a life for themselves.
If at the end of 30 days you can't show me anything, then I'd say Redding is that way, Roseburg is that way"