Seattle and King County should hold firm against a demand from the homeless activist group SHARE.

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THE homeless activist group Seattle Housing and Resource Effort (SHARE) is under contract with the city of Seattle to operate 250 badly needed emergency shelter beds.

Instead of simply doing that work in the midst of a homeless crisis, SHARE is staging a hostage-taking of public resources. It shut down 13 shelters and set up camp at King County’s downtown Seattle offices in order to demand what amounts to a bailout for years of sketchy financial management.

The targets of SHARE’s audacious tactics — King County and Seattle — have yielded before when confronted with these types of protests, including even when shelter beds were shut down. They should resist this time and extend a lifeline only if the activist nonprofit agrees to fundamental reforms, including a professional board of directors and new management.

SHARE fashions itself as a self-managed collective of homeless people, arising from a protest during the 1990 Seattle Goodwill Games. In addition to running tent cities, it offers the bare-bones version of emergency shelter — self-run shelters, usually out of a church basement, at a cost that is a fraction of other government-funded shelter beds.

While SHARE has a record of keeping people alive, it doesn’t have a record of moving people out of homelessness.”

While SHARE has a record of keeping people alive, it doesn’t have a record of moving people out of homelessness. King County, Seattle and big philanthropic funders like United Way are emphasizing shelters with case managers to help boost homeless people to stable housing.

That’s one reason that SHARE lost a competitive bidding process for $4.4 million from King County for 2015 and hasn’t received county money since. “We want to help people exit out of homelessness, not just survive,” said the King County human-services director, Adrienne Quinn.

The organization has had shaky finances for years and shut down shelters before when its fiscal pinch got too tight. A fiscally responsible organization would reconsider its practices and reform.

Instead, SHARE resorts to direct action to shame elected leaders into opening up the public purse. Those tactics are especially troubling because the nonprofit is dogged by a reputation that it coerces homeless residents of shelters into protests. Quinn said the county has heard protesters now camped out at King County were told to participate or they couldn’t stay at a SHARE shelter again.

Seattle is rightly demanding SHARE open up shelter beds the city has paid for. “It is difficult to trust an organization that will close its doors at the drop of a hat for political and funding advocacy,” said Jason Johnson, Seattle’s deputy human-services director.

The nonprofit says it carries $70,000 in debt, partly because of rising labor costs under the city’s minimum wage, and is flat broke.

Before Seattle or King County considers extending a lifeline, SHARE needs to prove it will not simply repeat its own history and be back in a few years holding public resources hostage.